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.

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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.

Writing Update: November 2016

 

untitled-9Yes, I know my weekly blog post is a day late. Shut up. There have been shenanigans and stock portfolios and STUFF. So without further ado, allow me to catch you all up as to the happenings of Elisabeth’s world.

NaNo WriMo a.k.a. The Month of Madness

As I write this, my present word count tally stands at 25,526 words. Officially past the halfway mark! I attribute this to a functional alarm clock, raging writerly pride, and copious quantities of tea.

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This has been a fun piece with lots of surprises for the characters and me and I am loving it. Of course, I will also have to edit it eventually. Bleh.

Speaking of editing…

Look at what I have been working on just last night! The final mark-ups for Fanged Kindred!

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The amazing Kaitlyn Deann is helping me edit. I’m reviewing her comments, checking for typos one last time, and this baby should be breaking out before New Years! So exciting.

As for reading…

In a fitting coincidence, we are covering Dracula for British Literature right now. For the record, there is no Dracula/Mina romance. NONE. If you think that their predatory obsession/crippling terror relationship if romantic, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?! Mina and Jonathan are the real love story. *heart eyes* Seriously, they’ve got a good thing going.

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Disclaimer: Do not read this book at night, especially if you live alone. It’s over a century old, so you think it’d be safe, BUT IT IS TERRIFYING.

I’ve also got another book review for W.R. Gingell’s Playing Hearts for some time this week! It was fantastic and I can’t wait to brag to you guys about it.

So have you read Dracula or Playing Hearts? Which of my projects are you most excited for? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Calling all fangirls and fanboys!

Some author friends and I have started a Facebook page for fans of Throne of Glass and we hope you’ll join us over there! It will be cool art, bookish stuff, and book recs. Seriously, it will be fun and we hope you join the party.

That time I outgrew YA

I started writing YA when I was well within the age range. But these past two years, I’ve been branching out into Game of Thrones and other not YA ilk. Outside reading, I’ve started involvement with human rights and the heavy issues that come with that.  As I creep ever further from the YA realm of 14-18, my perspective has changed a great deal.

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The storylines for my newer WIP’s started centering around different characters, darker themes. (But don’t worry, Haddie and Janir are safe.) I started toying with several ideas that cast young parents and widows in protagonist status—both generally considered no-no’s in YA. Truth be told, I feared I was growing out of my beloved genre.

Then not too long ago, I realized how much I missed certain things about YA. Young Adult characters, with scant exception, still believe the world can be changed for good, that there’s something worth fighting for. There’s a kind of innocence that’s rare in adult fiction and I had missed that so, so badly.

woman-1413054_960_720That was when I remembered the magic of YA, why it so successfully transcends age barriers. The thing is, we are all or have been young. We’ve all experienced or are experiencing some form of learning about the world, ourselves, and relationships. (Though people assure me that learning never really stops.) YA is so universal and successful for that very reason.

Loving and reading YA doesn’t mean you don’t dabble in other things. What’s more, YA itself covers a vast array of subgenres and issues. Whether you want to read something philosophical, sarcastic, humorous, contemporary, historical, speculative, surreal, or just about anything,  I guarantee the Young Adult section has it. There are very few limits on what it includes these days and the only consistent feature is protagonist age.

book-1149031_960_720Every so often, I want to read something about “grown-ups” screwing the world over, but I can still love YA. It stays there, like your high school best friend who still calls even after you both start grad school.

Truth is, I don’t think it’s possible to outgrow YA. That’s like saying you can outgrow ice cream.

Conflicted Loyalties: Villains vs. Heroes

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A soft spot for villains.

All too often, I find myself watching a movie or a series for the sake of the villain, because I care more about him/her than the “good guys.”  If you go on Tumblr or any other fan site, you’ll see that villains in pretty much every genre and media garner massive followings, sometimes even larger than those of their heroic counterparts.

This led me to the inevitable question—why? Are the heroes just too boring? Are the good guys too good? Is it that the villains are a means of expressing our frustrations and resentments by proxy? I’m sure there’s a psychology dissertation in that somewhere.

The double standard.

Firstly, I notice that villains get away with a lot more by virtue of being villains. If a hero abducted and poisoned children or slaughtered entire armies defending their homes, he would be condemned by the readership rather quickly. Yet the villain gets away with it because we expect that. After all, he/she is a villain and villains by their nature do villainous things, but if a hero has so much as one selfish moment and yells at the wrong character, suddenly we’re all over him/her with pitchforks and torches. (But if the protagonist is too perfect, we’re still not happy.)

When a hero monologues about traumatic events in their lives, they too quickly come off as whiny complainers. When a villain discusses past trauma, however,  people are generally more sympathetic. Villains also tend to talk about past traumas less often and I wonder if that has something to do with it as well—we don’t have to listen to many sympathy-garnering speeches.

The perspective factor.

Interestingly, there seems to be more villain-centric fans in films and television series. Personally, I find heroes more relatable and easier to empathize with in books and I believe other people do too. It probably has something to do with being thrown into the hero’s psyche, sometimes exclusively, leading us to develop more attachment to him/her.

Even in multi-POV books, the hero has the most “screen time” and the villains are usually secondary or tertiary if their perspective is there at all. This means a certain amount of distance from the villain and a buffer zone of attachment, if you will.

In the end, this subject could probably span a few more blog posts plus that dissertation I mentioned. I’m just trying to tap into what makes all characters—villains, heroes, and everything in between—lovable.

But in the end, it’s still an art, not a science.

Me and Book Series…in GIF

Me starting a new series:

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Me when I decide I’m a fan of a new series:

Me when I finish the first book:

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Me realizing the next book isn’t out yet:

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Me when they announce the official release date:

Me when, after moving it back four times, they announce the “official” release date:

Me being forced to wait:

Me when the sequel finally arrives:

Me when I start reading the sequel:

Me when I finish the sequel:

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So behind…

I am so very behind on my reviews that it isn’t even humorous. I’m going to have to do a whole post just to show you how very behind I am. but until then, this is what I am currently reading! (It’s pretty flipping awesome so far!)

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As the last of the Incenaga Witches, Emmeline has been tortured and forced to use her power to kill. But unlike the Incenagas before her, she has survived. With her freedom restored, she should feel safe, invincible even. After all, she has the protection of Prince Erick’s army and a power strong enough to obliterate any enemy. Yet Emmeline lives in fear for the next person who will try to control her, and no one can seem to find the tyrant threatening to claim her.

Until it’s too late.

With everything on the line, and the enemy at her throat, will Emmeline be able to use her power like never before? Even if it kills her?

In The Underground Witch, the second novel of the Incenaga Trilogy, Debbie Dee delivers enough adventure, heartbreak, and suspense to captivate readers at every turn.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads