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

Interview with an Author: Angela Howard

Angela's storyToday I get to do one of my favorite things—introduce you to a debut author. I met Angela Howard at a writers’ conference last year, and believe it or not, it wasn’t writing that sparked our friendship. It was cats. Or more precisely, it was the reason neither of us own a cat. I can’t remember how we got on the subject of cats in the first place, but the conversation went something like this:

Me: There’s only room for one person with attitude at our house, and that’s me.

Angela: Exactly! I knew there was a reason I liked you.

In addition to having a great sense of humor, Angela has an openness that instantly puts you at ease, and it comes through in her writing. She encourages others by sharing her own mistakes and successes. She’s the perfect person for us to be nosy with, so I asked her to share some of her experience as a first-time author.

First of all, tell us a little bit about your book.

How to Love Your Crazy Family is about learning to love your family while shattering the myth of perfection. No one has the perfect husband, perfect wife or perfect kids. No one—don’t let them fool you! What we can have are growing relationships where we love with purpose, growing every day to be more like Jesus. Loving others sounds easy in poems, love songs and sappy movies but this is real life and we need practical help. My husband and I also share some of our story in the bonus chapter: Holding Out Hope for Happily Ever After, Even with Bipolar.

Did you go with traditional or self-publishing?

I chose self-publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing with Amazon. I have to give credit to some wonderful friends—Angela Craig and Kim Martinez. They encouraged me to take a leap of faith and go for it. I’m kind of a traditional person so I never dreamed of self-publishing. Fortunately, I had some amazing help from my husband with the formatting (which can be tricky) and I’m happy I did it.

What’s been the biggest surprise about the publishing process so far?

The feeling of vulnerability really surprised me. I thought I was pretty much past that but I’m not. There’s this nagging feeling that my parents will be the only people who buy the book, but I just had to let that go and take the risk. I believe in the message of the book and know that there are so many hurting families who need hope and healing in their relationships—just like my family did.

In addition to being a wife and mom, you have a very busy speaking schedule. How do you fit in writing time?

A couple of things help me: 1) I made a commitment to blog 3 times a week when I first started my blog. That self-imposed deadline to “practice in public” helped me to faithfully show up no matter how I felt. 2) I don’t have an hour by hour schedule, but I do have a routine. I start my day with prayer, sitting quietly, Bible reading and study. Otherwise, I don’t have much to give to my writing, my family or my friends. After that I write—something, anything 5 to 6 days a week. I’m not a “morning person” or even a “night person.” I’m at my best from 8-5. The key is knowing yourself and showing up consistently, even when you don’t feel creative or productive.

And last but not least, the big question: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

That’s easy! I’d be able to transport myself and anyone I am touching, with the blink of an eye—anywhere. Can you imagine? Lunch on a warm, sandy beach in the Caribbean. A misty sunset walk through the streets of Paris. Come on—amazing!!

Angela Howard author photoAngela Howard is an inspirational speaker, writer and credentialed minister who loves to teach the truth of God’s Word in a fun and relevant way. She writes for her own blog at No Ordinary Days and is a contributor for the Her Voice Blog, and the Becoming His Blog. She also compiled Joanna Weaver’s devotional At the Feet of Jesus. Whatever she is doing, she has a passion to see spiritual growth and an increased sense of purpose in people’s lives. She graduated from Northwest University in 1997. She and her husband have been married for 18 years and live in Washington state with their two children.

You can connect with Angela on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Her new book, How to Love Your Crazy Family, is available from Amazon.How to Love Your Crazy Family cover

©2014 Kim Vandel and Angela Howard