Three Things I Don’t Understand About the Indie Author World

March 22, 2013
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In the year and a half that The Bookcast has been online, finding and bringing you some of the best indie author books, I’ve learned many things about the indie author life, but there are a few things I just can’t figure out, things that are illogical, counterintuitive, and sometimes downright self-injurious.

1. I don’t understand why some authors don’t have blogs. Or, in some cases, even a basic website. I get that it’s hard, time-consuming work to write a book, and that maintaining a blog can be a drain on your time and imagination.
But like it or not this is the world we live in, and in this world a vibrant online presence is a necessary tool in your self-promotion toolbox. The author who can’t, or won’t, make the effort to establish that online presence has put himself at a competitive disadvantage right out of the gate.

Now let me talk about websites that purport to serve indie authors.

2. I don’t understand why some blogs and websites call what they do “interviews.” In reality they’re more like surveys – or job applications. Often the most substantive question put to an author is, “Tell us about your current book.” From a reader’s standpoint, how does knowing your favorite song, or what time of day you like to write, help them decide whether to read your book?

While I applaud the intentions of any website that tries to help indie authors get the media attention they so badly need, it’s not always helpful to give them this kind of “attention.”

money3. I don’t understand why one particular website that purports to serve authors effectively holds their “help” for ransom. I won’t name the site because they don’t deserve the publicity, but their business model is to give the author a free interview, post it online for a day or two, then charge the author an annual fee to keep that interview online and available for potential readers to listen to.

This same website also expressly forbids authors from posting the interview on their own website or on social media platforms – presumably until they have paid the fee.

It is emblematic of the gatekeeper mentality that drove major media for decades, until digital overturned everything.

And I don’t understand why any business still operates that way.

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3 Responses to Three Things I Don’t Understand About the Indie Author World

  1. March 23, 2013 at 7:45 am

    It’s sad but true — writing the novel is much easier than promoting it. I am continually judging the veracity of offers and feel like I’ve “dodged a bullet” all to many times. Years ago when I worked in advertising I would never buy ad space for a client without looking at the stats for the publication: how many readers, who are the readers, etc. Online everything is up for grabs.

    Scary world out there for indie writers!

    • March 23, 2013 at 9:30 am

      Indeed, Candy, it’s startling how many businesses are eager to drain an indie author’s bank account. And it can be very difficult to distinguish the real help from the take-your-money-and-run variety.

  2. March 26, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Excellent article, Bill. I’ve done several “print” interviews which, as you rightly say, are really surveys.
    On the other end of the spectrum are the interviews you conduct on The Bookcast–researched, live audio interaction, and supplemented with relevant graphics. I took advantage of your embed option and now a link to my interview with you appears on the book’s own website. It has received much favorable attention.
    Occasionally a “survey” question can elicit some useful introspection. For example, I was asked, “What do you think is the hardest thing about being a writer? My response was, “Living with inattention from those who should know better. The writing itself is hard, but hardly hardest.” I had never thought about this before, but perhaps it explains why many authors seek out opportunities to be noticed however fruitless an exercise it may be.

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