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Being “Indie” Doesn’t Mean We Get to Be Lazy

See full issue for 2018 07-30
by Renee Miller

This might not be a popular article, because this is a place where we celebrate independent authors and self-publishing. I’m an indie author, and (in my opinion) the only reason I’ve had success is because I self-published, so I’m not saying it’s not a good thing. However, if you think this is the easy route, well, sit down, dear. We’ve got some shit to discuss.

Indie is wonderful and liberating and fascinating, but it rarely makes a person rich or famous and there's no one checking for quality. I guess publishing traditionally doesn’t make you rich either, but it tends to happen more often in this case, probably because authors have a team of people working behind them. Whichever path you choose, success requires that you, the author, does all or most of the work, particularly when it comes to marketing.

But marketing and which path to choose is not the topic of today’s discussion. Maybe it’s just that I’m reading more posts in writing groups this week, but I’ve seen a lot of comments/rants about not needing to have a firm grasp of self-editing, because “that’s what editors are for.” Really? I’ve also read bits and pieces saying that readers don’t care about typos, and they don’t care about plot or research as long as the characters are likable. In other words, if they like your characters, nothing else matters. Really?

The most troubling posts, though, are the ones where folks claim that being a good writer doesn’t matter, because in self-publishing, there’s a market for everything. In other words, these guys are too lazy to try to better themselves. Someone will read it, so why bother?

More and more I believe that a lot of people seem to think they have nothing to learn and/or no reason to improve your writing skills. To them I say, get over yourself. Even the best writers can and should strive to be better. This is why I think everyone should submit to a pro market. (a magazine or publisher who pays pro rates) If you think editors are there to fix your shitty writing, let me know how subbing turns out for you. Unless you find a very generous soul, and most editors aren't feeling generous when they go through a slush pile, it won’t go as well as you think it will.

Every single writer out there would benefit from submitting to a publisher or magazine that pays, even if that’s not the route you plan to take in the end. Why? Because unlike your friends and some of these writing groups, there’s no circle jerking, ego-soothing or back patting in the submissions process. If you’re good, you do well. If you’re not, you don’t. Hell, even if you’re good, sometimes you don’t do well. Sometimes you get feedback, which you should use to make your writing better. More often, it’s a simple rejection. No reason given. In this case, you should look at what you wrote and figure out why they said no thanks.

We all need a reality check sometimes and subbing to paying markets gives us that. If you’re very lucky, it might be the spark you need to get this writing career you’re working on off the ground. You might be a good writer and still get rejected. It doesn’t mean the system is screwed up. More often it means there were better writers submitting, so you need to improve your game.

Some of you will be all, “No thanks,” to the submitting thing. That’s fine. Don’t do it. DO make sure you’re not publishing shit. In the end, it’s going to bite you in the ass.

None of us is a perfect writer. Not even those lucky devils making millions. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to get as close to perfection as we can. Readers do NOT ignore sloppiness or laziness, contrary to the belief of those I mentioned before. They’re smart and they’re paying for your book, so show some respect and give them your absolute best.

Tags: Advice for Writers, Miller Time

Renee Miller

Renee Miller lives in Tweed, Ontario, a small town she vowed to run away from, only to realize there is no escaping. She’s been a waitress, a bartender, a gas station attendant, a social worker, a daycare provider, coffee-slinging drive-thru professional, an office administrator, a baker, and a freelance writer, but always had her heart set on writing fiction.

When she’s not burning dinner or failing at housework, she hides in a glamorous office/garage cuddled up to her laptop. She’s what folks like to call a “hybrid” author, having published independently and with publishers such as Unnerving Magazine, Deadman’s Tome, Broadswords and Blasters, DarkFuse Magazine and Hindered Souls Press.

Visit Renee Miller‘s website.


  1. EvolvedPub

    Well nuts! If I could edit the previous post, I would correct “thier.” Oh, you obstinate fingers!

  2. EvolvedPub

    Thanks for the refreshing, candid SELF-examination, as too many SELF-publishers seem to be in SELF-denial. The marketplace has been, for those not already established as of mid-2014, brutally difficult to sell in. Why? After all, self-pubbed books enjoyed great success from 2010 to 2014, in much larger percentages, before the tailing off? So why the tailing off? Well, there are many contributing factors, of course, but not the least of them is the fact that consumers got tired of trying self-pubbed books only to find that they were poorly written garbage. Even if they only spent $0.99 — heck, even if they downloaded it free and invested thier time — they became more and more frustrated. They returned to their old stand-bys in big numbers, many of them simply giving up on self-pubbed works. It’s no coincidence that many of the big-name, traditionally-published authors enjoyed a resurgence about that same time. Really… wake up, people. And so I say GOD BLESS to you and other self-pubbed authors who take your craft seriously, and who take the time and energy, and make the investment, necessary to produce high-quality books that ANY reader of that genre would be happy to purchase. (Naturally, reaching those consumers is a whole other monster!)

  3. Duda George

    You hit the nail on the head. I’ve been reading several articles lately on self-editing. A professional editor can tell within two pages if the manuscript is going to need a lot of work and will often reject it for just that reason.

    Self-editing is a daunting task. There’s tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid among others that can help. I just started using ProWritingAid and can’t believe all the changes I’ve had to make to my book. It’s taking a lot time. But, like you said, we need to be the best we can be if we want to be taken seriously. Reminds me of one article where it was said, “Agonize over sentences.”

  4. Peter Bernhardt

    Exactly. There are many a book I put down after the first few pages when it becomes clear that the text has never suffered any type of proofreading. Typos, filters, purple prose, “haditis,” adverb infestation, and so on.

    Peter Bernhardt, Author: The Stasi File, 2011 ABNA Quarter Finalist; Kiss of the Shaman’s Daughter [sequel]; Red Romeo;

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