"But lisa, indie authors don't edit their work well!"
On this point I'll admit that some independently published books are in sore need of an editor. I recall one book with hideous typos that became so laughable, I couldn't put down the book because I was incredibly amused at how awful the editing was. A character named "Nathaniel" was even misspelled as "National" - who doesn't catch these things? But trust me, that's the exception to the rule. Yes, there is the occasional, "Did your copy editor even graduate grammar school?" novel, but for the majority of indie works the editing is clean and superbly done. Yes, there's the occasional minor typo, but I've come across just as many errors in final copies of traditionally published books. (Not to mention ARCs - I have a new pet peeve of readers that devour ARCs but use "poor editing" as an excuse not to even attempt reading indie works.)
"But lisa, I want a publisher to vet out good work from bad."
It seems a little arrogant to insist that the mark of a good writer is a publisher's stamp of approval. Think for just one moment about the last really bad book you read. The one that made you cringe and sigh and think, "I could've come up with a better ending than that!" Chances are that novel you're shaking your head about is not an indie work. It may even be one that garnered critical acclaim that left you wondering what all the fuss was about. Publishers don't make works well written simply by the act of publishing them. Talented writers make works well written, and with six billion people on this planet, I'm going to venture a guess that many more of them have talent as writers and storytellers than will ever see their name on a NYT Bestseller list.
"But lisa, if indie authors can write so well, why aren't they picked up by traditional publishers?"
Some of them are. I use the term "indie author" rather liberally and would even go so far as to put Christopher Paolini and Lisa Genova in that category as both Eragon and Still Alice were published independently before being picked up by large presses. Some authors have published their work traditionally and then gone the indie route when their works went out of print. But maybe those are exceptions to the typical indie author experience. Not everyone can get an agent. Not everyone can make the right connections. Not everyone can get their foot in the door to get their manuscript in the right hands. We sadly live in a world that's more about who you know than what you know. I don't want to be the kind of reader that rejects a work just because it's not what a publisher was looking for at the time.
"But lisa, there are soooo many indie authors out there. Even if I wanted to read them, I wouldn't know where to begin!"
That's where I come in! Well, not just me, but fellow bloggers! The more people that get involved reading and reviewing indie works, the easier it is to discover what you're looking for and which books and authors you'll most likely enjoy! The same way supermarkets offer samples to let you taste a product before you buy it (the only way on the planet I was able to convince my carnivore of a husband that he might actually enjoy black bean veggie burgers), most indie authors offer sample chapters of their work online. Try before you buy and you just might surprise yourself. If you read a chapter and don't really like the writing style or aren't connecting with a character, move along to something else. Books come in all types, shapes, and sizes because readers do as well.
So where do you fall on the indie author spectrum? Love them? Refuse them? Never tried them? Better yet... why? I'd love to start some dialog on this topic! Do you have a reason to seek out independent works that I haven't yet mentioned? Do you have an objection to indie publishing that I haven't addressed?
I realize this feature may end up alienating some readers from my blog. Hopefully, even if you're anti-indie you'll stick around and keep reading my usual posts and maybe even check out my reviews of indie works this summer. I'll be hosting some interviews, guest posts and fabulous giveaways as well so stay tuned for what I hope will be a super fun feature! If any other bloggers want to join in and spotlight their own favorite independent author or work, feel free to borrow the badge above and be sure to drop me a link in the comments!