Friday, June 15, 2012

The Ups and Sucks of an Indie Writer - Part 3

Visions of Indies and Bad Reviews.

The name has been changed but it still carries a stigma.
            Years ago, when you took matters into your own hands to get your book out there into the public, it was called Self-Publishing. Now, it is referred to as being an Indie.
            Which, confused me at first because to me, an ‘Indie’ was a filmmaker. I am fortunate enough to be both an Indie writer and filmmaker and I can tell you from experience, the purchasing public has a totally different view of both medias.
            When you make films, the public is sympathetic to your low budget woes. They excuse a lot of problems in the film if the story is good and the acting decent.
            Even those in the community support one another. As a film writer, I get a lot of respect from my peers. But as a book writer people aren’t quite as forgiving, and we as writers must realize that if we are going to put our book out there, then we also must take the sucks that come with the ups.
            The biggest suck is a bad review.
            Just like I labeled myself the queen of rejection letters, I’m pretty much dusting off my tiara to be the queen of bad reviews.
            The best advice I received was not direct, but posted on an Amazon forum by an angry reviewer who was tired of Indie writers getting mad and defensive over bad reviews. She said, “Reviews are for the readers, not the authors.’
            From that moment forward, I stopped reading reviews. It made it easier.
            Every author gets bad reviews. And they are so hard to take, but the truth is, most bad reviews have something in them that has merit, that we as authors should listen to.
            My first bad review was from Zombie Battle. The reviewer stated: ‘Bobbed wire fence, that’s all I’m going to say, bobbed wire fence.’
I was like, ‘huh? Maybe the reviewer didn’t know what a bobbed wire fence was. Perhaps I should let her know it’s a metal mesh of twisted wire above a regular fence.” Then my son Noah informed me that it wasn’t bobbed it was barbed. Duh.
            The question on my mind is are we easier targets because we are Indies or are our books just not up to the level our readers expect? I think it’s a combination of both.
            I don’t believe there is an Indie writer out there who wants their work to have bad grammar or typos, or poor sentence structure. Most of the time we do what we can to get it clean and keep cleaning it as time goes on.  We use beta readers, family and friends.  A professional editor would be wonderful but they cost an arm and a leg, bottom end a grand. For me to get a grand back on a polished book I’d have to sell 3000 copies. Unfortunately that may be the total sales an indie book gets for the entire shelf life.
            It’s a catch 22. We can keep the price low because we are aware it may not be perfect. Or seek out a total overhaul edit and raise the price to make up the costs. But we’re Indies. No one wants to buy a 7.99 book from an Indie let alone one priced higher.
            And still the bottom line is … we’re Indies. Just like people go to an M. Night Shyamalan movie looking and searching for hints about his super surprise endings, there are readers that pick up a book looking for errors and mistakes because they know they have to be there. It’s an Indie book.  And they are right.
            But I am finding more and more that this is slowly eeking away from being the norm. There are readers out there who absolutely love Indie novels because they get a good story for a good price. They are forgiving of some errors in exchange to be moved and entertained. Much like the Indie movie watchers and the B movie lovers. Some of us found a pocket of appreciation.
            The crusade against Indies last year really did some damage. It got out of hand with Reviewers and Writers getting nasty. That’s calmed and it seems the overly used 'grammar slam reviews' have become like over prescribed antibiotics, immunity has been built up. Or maybe, just maybe the crusade worked. I think it did. Maybe it didn’t let up but rather clocked a lot of Indies on the head. I think these reviewers who honestly ‘wanted to like our books’ and were sorely let down by editing, heightened our awareness of what we put out there. We Indies have become more diligent about out work. We realize there are those out there who are reading and we don’t want to let them down.
            I said a decade ago that all I wanted was a chance and I’d run with it. Well, Kindle has given me a chance. I’ve been running, sometimes in circles, sometimes I drop the ball, but I keep going.
            As far as reviews … good or bad, I’ll take them and be grateful. Some like them and some hate them but people are reading my books. And isn’t that what I wanted in the first place?

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