am I an Indie writer?

In his memoir on writing, Stephen King said: “If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”

Of course, he said this before the days of no-cost self-publishing.

To date I’ve sold 45 copies of my book. I’m pretty sure I could pay the light bill with that. But this does not mean that I’m talented.

While I would love to be respected as a writer, one thing I definitely do not want is to be known as an “Indie” writer. Because while I have met a lot of really cool self-proclaimed Indie writers, there are some habits within the community that I find pretty intolerable.

The first is the complete lack of integrity exhibited by some people. Yes a lot of these people have far more book sales than I do, but that doesn’t mean they’re more talented. Mostly it means they’re better at marketing and networking.

The thing I’ve noticed about a lot of Indie writers is they really band together. They ‘like’ each other’s Facebook pages, they follow each other on Twitter, and they write 5-star reviews on Amazon for each other. Unfortunately, the quality of the writing doesn’t seem to be a factor in any of this. They do this for each other regardless of how good or bad any particular writer is just so they’ll get the favor in return. The worst thing I’ve seen so far is an instance where one writer grumbled about getting a 1-star review on Amazon, so they all banded together and complained until Amazon removed the review.

Yeah, a bunch of Indie writers—who may not have even read the book—used their strength in numbers to shout down the voice of an actual reader.

I think it’s pretty sick, and I don’t really want to be a part of it.

Another thing that annoys me is the inability of some of them to take criticism. I mean, I can understand why they don’t like it when I criticize their lack of integrity, but if someone wants to have any hope of being a successful writer they need to be able to accept criticism on their writing. The way some of these delicate flowers wilt when you try to help them a little with their prose you’d think they’d been physically assaulted by a gang of rabid gorillas.

Which I would totally foot the bill for if someone could find a way to make that happen.

Because while they may have this little incestuous thing going where they ‘like’, buy, promote, and 5-star review each other’s books, in the long run they’re just hurting themselves by putting out poor-quality products with inaccurate and misleading reviews. Most readers are already wary of self-published books, and it’s only going to get worse if this trend continues.

Alright, now that I’ve gotten all that negativity out of the way I do want to say I’ve had a lot of positive experiences with Indie writers. I’ve had people edit my work and give helpful criticism, and I’ve edited stuff for other people as well—which helps me see my own writing through the eyes of an editor. And personally I think this is the best possible way for so-called “Indie” writers to support each other. By giving criticism, by editing, and yes by networking and promoting, but not in an insincere and superficial way. A high-quality book review is an invaluable thing for a novice writer, but it has to be sincere, and most importantly it has to be accurate. I wrote a piece on the importance of a good 4-star review, and I’m already getting some flak from elements in the Indie community.

I do want to be a writer, and I do want people to think of me as a “good” writer, but with the way things are going right now I really don’t want to be considered an “Indie” writer.