I’ve realized something about myself this weekend. I read a lot (no that’s not the realization), and since I jumped on the indie author train this year, I have made an effort to read a lot more indie work. What I’ve realized about myself is that I hold indies to a higher standard when I read.
Well, part of it is that I hold myself to incredibly high standards and I tend to hold other people to the same standard (my students really hate that about me)–and it’s a standard that a lot of people who are not excessive, type A, overachievers fail to meet. So when I put out something for people to read, I make sure that it’s the best that I can possibly make it. I’m a grammar Nazi, freelance copy editor, and I’ve spent hours and hours learning craft to improve my work. So I expect the same from other indies. Because the buck stops with them. There is no New York editor or copy editor who’s gonna go behind you and fix your screw ups (unless you hire someone freelance, which most indies apparently don’t do). Indies are the underdogs of publishing, and as such, they need to put out a product that is well-written, well-edited and gone over with a fine tooth comb in order to compete.
When I pick up a traditionally published book, yes I notice when there are mistakes. They stick out like a sore thumb, often pull me out of the story, and generally cause me to think nasty, demeaning thoughts about whatever editor or copy-editor failed to catch it. Lots of eyes go over New York published work, so there tend to be fewer of those kinds of mistakes. So yeah, while I notice them, I don’t think I’m QUITE as on alert for them when I read a traditionally published work.
With indies I’ve noticed I am almost in the same mentality as I am when I grade students’ papers. I’m LOOKING for errors in grammar, punctuation, formatting, misused words. And of course, I find them, because so many indies don’t get enough eyes on their work before they put it out. So here I am going through and mentally practically giving demerits for every careless error I find. Which, obviously, leaves me very disappointed in a lot of indie work.
I read a back and forth on some book review site a while back between a reviewer and an author where the author thought she should get cut some slack because she had kids and a job and apparently didn’t have the time to devote to honing her craft and seriously editing her work. She was just writing “for fun” and not “in it for the money”. She just wanted to be read. Well, sorry sugar, but even if it’s free, nobody wants to read unedited crap and you’re giving indies a bad name. If you don’t take some pride in putting out the best book/story you can, you don’t deserve the honor of being called “writer”.
I think that’s part of it too. Indies have such a stigma to overcome that I have zero tolerance for the kind of amateur errors that continue to contribute to it. So, yeah, I hold indies to a higher standard. They should too.