Indie is not a Get Out Of Jail Free card.

By Evangeline Jennings

Today we’re going to talk about the difference between Indie and Amateur. It’s time the tale were told.

I have been spending more time than I care to measure editing and proof-reading the first Pankhearst book – Cars And Girls – which is scheduled to ‘drop’ on or around May 24th. I’m on my second round of proofs from CreateSpace.

This is what she's like.
This is what she’s like.

So imagine my less than impressed grin when a member of some group or another – I am trying to be circumspect, it doesn’t come naturally – posted a howl of outrage on some website or other – still being circumspect – about a review their book had received on Amazon. While others flocked to commiserate and denounce the reviewer, I went to read the free excerpt and the review. The review was fair, actually kind, and gave the book three stars. I could have justified one star and backed up every criticism with multiple examples. The obligatory disclaimer, for example, read “This is work of fiction. The cover and contents within WHERE created from the writer’s imagination.” – my upper case letters – and set the standard for the rest of the book.

However, the clearly distraught author felt targeted and victimized. “It was defiantly someone that didn’t like me.”

The arguments they put forward against the reviewer were as follows:

If you don’t have anything good to say, why say anything? Because that’s the purpose of a review. To advise future prospective customers. And because an honest reviewer won’t know what they’re going to say about a book until they’ve read it. Having put in the effort, why wouldn’t they write their review?

It was free. Yes, it was. In order to try to get favorable reviews. It is now priced at $2.99.

I am an indie writer. All indie.  I finished the story several weeks ago. I edited it myself over and over and over, than converted it myself, then made covers myself. I am all Indie. Yeah, by this stage I was irked. This author is not “indie”, but amateur. Indie is not an excuse. And I am genuinely insulted that this author is trying to claim some sort of brotherhood with people who actually know how many beans make five.

Of course, it’s possible to take an indie approach to publishing which says, Yeah, I’m going to rip this story out quick and dirty – a cheaply produced seven inch single as opposed to Dark Side Of The Moon – because what I have to say is more important than artwork or punctuation. And I will always support any writer’s decision to follow that path. We even thought of doing it ourselves with Cars And Girls but in the end we decided we wanted it to be the best book we could deliver, by traditional commercial standards. And it will be. When we publish , it will be as professional as we can manage. There will be misteaks, I’m sure. Yes, that spelling mistake was a joke. Some people won’t like our book at all. Some will object to one or more of the storylines, the violence, or the sex. Some people will write one star reviews without reading the book because we tend to ruffle feathers. But you won’t find us crying about it. It’s all part of the game. We’ll just track those bastards down, kill them, skin them, and eat them. Much like I will do with the next person I see whining when their slapdash amateur book gets a review that tells the truth.


7 thoughts on “Indie is not a Get Out Of Jail Free card.

  1. I am self published, yes I live in fear of bad reviews but I do hope that I will have the grace to accept them and the honesty to look at my work and see if it is in need of more work. Even the most well known authors e.g. Sir Terry Prachett say that they would love the opportunity to re-write some of their earlier stuff but that’s not the same as throwing out any old stuff (not saying this was the case here but I have seen things that have been marketed with no covers, appalling grammar, dreadful layout etc. etc. I know I will be hurt when I do receive poor comments but I will try to be honest with myself and I will definitely not complain, I am asking people to part with their money I owe them!

  2. All so true. You have to do the very best you can and then brace to take the good with the bad.

    Although I would say, I’ve seen some pretty compelling evidence that people do leave shit reviews just to be vindictive–for whatever reason–and those “people” should be taken deep into the mountains and left for the cannibalistic mutant family to chase down, tie-up and carry back to their shack where they’ll be forced to snuggle on the couch between Cousin Earl-Lee and Leather Lips for a weekend of mutant family home movies and bowls of cold rat chowder.

    Those who leave bad reviews based on their own misteaks, (I suffered a reader getting muddled after mixing up characters), they should at least have to eat the rat chowder–slightly warmed–while they pen their retractions.

    Okay, okay…I’ll shut my whine-hole and take my own advice of accepting the good with the bad.

    Now, time to grill some misteaks.


  3. I agree about some reviewers, J. Or can I call you Eric? I’m quite sure we’ll see some of those haters come out of the woodwork when we publish but the review that sparked this little rant was fair and kind. So today’s wrath is directed at writers who believe that rank amateurism is the same as being “indie” and that being “indie” entitles you to an easy ride. Kind of thing.

  4. This is a wonderful article, and I agree with you in every way. Being Indie is not an excuse for failures, it simply means that there is nobody to pass the buck to when the shit does hit the fan (in this case, in reviews.) If there are mistakes riddled throughout, why would you expect a reviewer not to pull them up? Hell, if it were me, I’d probably be thanking the reviewer for pointing them out to me before I go for another redraft and upload the newest version to amazon!

    I’m also wanting one of Eric’s grilled misteaks now.


  5. Are you sure you want one, Chele?

    They’re not called “misteaks” without reason, you know.

    And, as to the topic… Yes, I’m with you, Pankie, (can I call you “Pankie”?) and very much agree. Being an indie does not equate to a free ride. If you want people’s time and hard-earned money, you’d best do your best to earn both. That, or be prepared for a deserved basting review-wise.

    And please… Call me Jeri Claing. So many others do….

  6. If I wrote a blog post every time I received a less-than-favorable review, I’d have a hell of a lot of content right now. Haha.

    Those whiny authors who send their troops out to bash reviewers will either learn quickly to behave otherwise or will sink into obscurity (or just remain there?) as they waste years defending their first book instead of writing another.

    The key to an online presence is confidence. Be concerned with what you’re saying, and give no #*%& whether or not anyone is paying attention.

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