Are Indie Authors Worth Reading?

It may sound heretical for an indie author to ask, but I think it’s a valid question.

I take my writing seriously. I mean, get-up-at-5-am-to-write-before-driving-to-class, proofread-to-midnight, pay-for-cover-designers-before-clothes seriously. Most the other indie authors I know also put in the same ridiculous amount of time, effort, and exhaustive work. It can really hurt when we aren’t taken seriously by other people. There’s still a huge stigma towards indie authors, though it’s not as bad as it was even a few years ago. Still, a lot of reviewers, retailers, and some readers won’t touch our stuff just because it’s not tattooed with a Big Six Publisher’s logo. To add insult to injury, I actually understand why the stigma exists.

There are a lot of crappy self-published authors. A LOT. No way around that.

Hell, I was a crappy self-published author at one point. I actually reedited, redesigned, and republished my first five books because, let’s face it, the editing sucked and the covers sucked. (With their current versions, I can at least live with myself.)

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Being an indie author comes with incredible freedom. We get to choose when we publish, what we publish, in what formats, the cover art, the audiobook narrators, the interior format, who we sell what rights, and literally everything you can possibly think of.

But like great power, great freedom comes with great responsibility.

I’ve seen a lot of indies (and I’ve already admitted I did stuff like this) upload a partially edited Word doc. to Kindle Direct Publishing, slap together an image drawn in Paint, and set it loose on the innocent world. This is what has flooded the market with the bad material that has given so many of us a bad name.

Regardless, there is no “right” way to be an indie author.


Those of us who are serious all agree it’s imperative to produce quality work for our readers. That’s about as far as our consensus goes. Some swear we need a professional editor. Others rely on a team of trusted beta readers and brutally honest writer friends.

Some indies hire professional interior designers for eBook and/or print versions of their books. Others bootstrap it and study the formatting guides like the Bible until we know what we’re doing.

We all concur covers are second only to story, but again we diverge. While most of us (including Yours Truly) will scream we need a professional cover artist, I would admit others have done pretty well with a Shutterstock subscription and Adobe InDesign.

There are a vast number of ways to be an indie author. Therein lies the point and the problem. It’s all up to the individual!

But are indie authors worth it? Really, that’s up to you—our readers. 

You are the final judge of all things. We’re creating stories and delivering them straight to readers. That’s the point of being indies. We answer directly to you and we try to listen to what you want—those of us who take our work seriously, at least. And there are plenty of us who take it seriously, I promise.

In the end, I would encourage you to try indie authors despite the existence of crappy ones. Take a look at reviews, browse a few free previews, and see if anything catches your eye. Remember we write to please you, not agents or acquisitions editors. Until then, we’ll keep bringing our very best because, long-term, indie publishing is one of those things people only really do when they can’t imagine doing anything else.


  1. With respect, Elizabeth, when you say ‘undulated the market’, I think you probably meant to say, ‘inundated the market’. No offence intended. Some of us can’t switch off our editing brains.

  2. This is such a hard topic to talk about, but thanks for sharing your opinion! I’ve gone back and forth on this a lot.
    I used to be very pro indie authors, and then the more I read the more horrified I was by the total lack of good quality stories. Then I went back to be pro, but recently since working with a small publishing collective (we’re working to bridge traditional and indie publishing) I have found myself again being appalled. I really think Indie authors need more support, they need more editors to help them and eventually (with a ton of hard work!) I think we can turn around the stigma of indie authors.

    1. Yeah…it happens. EDIT ALL THE THINGS FOR THE LOVE OF MERCY. But yay, I’m glad for you! That sounds like a splendid opportunity.

  3. I can say one way or the other. But this I know, I’ve been burned so many times by self-published work, my first response now is to shy away from it. It’s sad because I read a lot, but don’t have the money or the time to dig through the crap to get to the gold.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    1. 🙁 Now I’m even madder at the crappy self-pubs, but reading is really about you. You decide for you!

  4. It’s disappointing that some of us won’t get our books read because other self-published writers have let loose works that haven’t been proofread and are just putting off potential readers from knowing what our edited documents are like. I wish we weren’t judged by the half-a$$ books out there!

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