Why I Stopped Reading Indie Books (and Started Again)

indie readOne of the problems with being a voracious reader is that it’s an expensive habit. If it wasn’t for the library, I’d be broke. My children would probably starve or—even worse—I’d have to go without Starbucks.

Like it or not, price is a factor I have to consider when buying a book, and I want value for those dollars I’m investing. Who doesn’t? Self-published books are generally less expensive than traditionally published books, at least when it comes to digital format. Sometimes they’re even free, which makes them very enticing to a voracious reader like me.

But a pattern began to emerge with some of the self-published books I bought. My excitement would dwindle as I started to read. Three pages into the book, and I’d find myself doing more editing than reading. “Than” and “then” are not interchangeable.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

After a few poorly (sometimes horribly) written books, I found myself less and less willing to read indie books. I gravitated toward the traditionally published ones, thinking that if it had gone through a publisher, then it had at least been professionally edited. Yes, there are plenty of traditionally published (professionally edited) books that are less than print-worthy. I just figured my odds were better with a traditional publisher.

I admit it. It was pure laziness. I wanted someone to sift through the millions of books out there for me. The truth is that I let a few poorly written indie books ruin it for all the others, and I ruined it for myself in the process. I’m sure I deprived myself of some great reading.

Indie publishing is not what it was a couple of years ago or even what it was six months ago. Talented authors are investing the time and money it takes to produce a quality product. They learn the craft of writing and create a story worth reading. They act as a general contractor for their book, securing professional editing, formatting, and cover art. They build a frame that will make their masterpiece shine.

I’ve seen some fantastic authors emerge, authors who’ve proved that an independently published book can be just as good—or better—than a traditionally published book. A few hard-working authors restored my faith in indie publishing, and they took away my excuse for being lazy. But I’m okay with that. It’s good news for a voracious reader like me because I’m no longer limited by a publishing method. There are more books to choose from, more possibilities. Stories that might never have reached print otherwise are there for me to read. If some of those books cost a little less, then I’ll be able to buy more books and still have Starbucks once in a while. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Do you read indie books? Do you rely on the library to satisfy your reading habit?

©2014 Kim Vandel

8 thoughts on “Why I Stopped Reading Indie Books (and Started Again)

  1. I’m with you, Kim. I’m on a quest to find well-written, properly-edited indie books. I haven’t given up yet. I’m really interested to see how things shake out over the next several years. What new filtering system will emerge so readers don’t have to plow through so much not-yet-ready-for-publishing to get to the gems.

    1. Hi, Lesley! I think sites like Goodreads will become even more popular. Word of mouth, whether it’s in person or virtual, is what sells books. It’s an exciting time in the publishing world and a great time for readers.

  2. There are more and more good indie books out there. (And like you, I’ve been burned a few times. Nowadays I ALWAYS download the sample first, whether it is an indie or traditionally published book. I was also burned by a few traditionally published ones I thought were awful.)

    I think you have to look at the reviews. It’s unlikely that a book with 50 or more reviews is going to have terrible grammar issues. And if they do, you’ll quickly see them in the sample or Look Inside. I also check to see if any reviewers mention grammar or lack of editing.

  3. Like you I’m a voracious reader. I have a few go-to authors that I know I will want to read anything they put out. But with publishers wanting $12-$15 for ebooks, I find myself turning to the library for those books.

    Indie books are much harder to find at the library. So for those, I generally read the sample on Amazon first. If that doesn’t grab me, or has tons of errors, I will pass. (Just the other day I was looking at a romantic suspense Indie-pubbed book. The author is a multi-pubbed Traditional author, but on the first page she had a glaring error where she said a bullet wound is larger at the entry point than at the exit point. I passed on that one. An editor might have caught that for her.)

    As an Indie author myself, I’m thankful there ARE people willing to give us Indies a shot. But I think we authors need to go that extra mile to make sure our work is up to par.

    1. Well said, Lynnette. It seems more and more likely that indie books will make it into libraries before too long, so I’m looking forward to that. Thanks for being one of those indie authors willing to lead the way and set a standard for excellence!

  4. I’m an indie author, but I completely get your frustration. (That’s the freelance editor in me, and unfortunately, this editor is brutal on both indie and trade books).

    When I’m browsing Amazon or Barnes & Noble, I’m looking at the packaging. By that I mean, the cover, the description, and the first chapter. If the author or publishing house takes the book seriously and hooks me, then I’ll click “buy.” If the cover looks like it was designed on Paint, the description isn’t compelling, or the first chapter is riddled with spelling/grammar errors, I’m out–No matter how intriguing the story idea is.

    Here’s hoping those books keep rising to the top. 🙂

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