(The above works can be found here, except for Autumn Winds, which will be released in about a week.)
Later edit: This post was featured on Passive Voice!
Later edit: This post was featured on Passive Voice!
I recently had an encounter with an Indie group on Facebook that truly took me by surprise. They were so set in their ways that I had the feeling I was dealing with a traditional publishing group in disguise. The problem wasn't that they were even wrong for most writers, but that the moderator of the group (and her leap up and down followers) would not admit that someone might be capable of actually doing a good cover themselves or, worse, have spent time as an editor and was capable of editing their own work.
Now don't get me wrong. I think most of us do need help with editing especially. I have had such help and I'm very grateful for those who did the work. I've been told, even by occasional traditional publishers (small press) that I've worked with that my submitted work is extremely clean -- but there are small things that can still slip through and there are occasional blind spots we just don't see. I know this is true of every writers. And every editor, for that matter; I have found problems in edited transcripts too.
So I'm not arguing that this is helpful for most writers.
It is the attitude of the group which verges on the traditional publishing pat on the head and 'Don't you worry about anything but the words, little writer. You aren't smart enough to handle art (or editing), too.'
I found this attitude to be more than annoying. I found it counterproductive and the antithesis of the entire Indie ideal. Being told that any author who dares edit their own work or create their own cover ruins the Indie market -- without EVER looking at the individual work done -- is so elitist that it actually took me a few days to believe they were serious. They are sprouting the same things we've heard from everyone who won't take the time to actually examine work before making a pronouncement. It's far easier to make a ad hominem statement and dismiss everything with a single wave of the hand, isn't it? After all, that's what others outside the Indie world do.
Let's look at the cover art side first. Many people do not want to do the art and have no interest in learning how. I can understand that part. It is a lot of work and if you don't have the interest to begin with, then you simply should not bother. Some people think they have the ability, but they need to study other covers and try again. I've been at that stage.
However, a lot of cover art these days is done with pre-made photos and simple templates. It takes practice to find the right picture and get the lettering right, but it is NOT something impossible for any poor little author to do. Branching out from there can be more difficult. I am most certainly still learning, but I'm willing to put the effort in to study other covers and expand my ability. It interests me. The covers I have above are not bad covers. I've seen far worse on some traditional works and Indie works hired out.
Telling me (and others who are far better at this than I am) that creating our own covers is ruining the Indie image and why readers don't take us seriously is just plain stupid. There are some truly bad covers out there. You know what? Those people aren't listening to you anyway. So why wouldn't you try to help the ones who are trying to do better, rather than patting them on the head and telling them they aren't creative in anything but writing and don't bother?
And editing? Yes, writers need to edit their work to the best of their ability before they consider publishing or going to another editor. The problem is that the worst of the offenders out there are people who wouldn't bother to edit at all anyway, so holding them up as the example of what every writer is like who doesn't hire an editor is just plain wrong. Instead of pointing to them as a norm (which these people are doing by saying they're running the Indie experience), we should be making certain people know they are the exception. Yes, they'll be held up by others as a sign of how horrible Indie Publishing is, but that's normal in any field. People always want to degrade something they don't believe in, and if you go along with it and say 'everyone has to do X not to be one of them' then you simply play into that mindset.
We should also be telling readers to check out the free samples of any author's work before they buy. If an author is obviously lazy, then don't buy or look at their work again. Don't whimper and moan about how bad other writers are and how they're ruining the Indie world when you keep pointing to them. Instead, take command and stand in front of them instead of behind. You and I have no control over those people and making them important is not helping. We need to move on and point out the really good work, rather than the bad. I think some people are so worried about what others are doing wrong that they've stopped seeing good in people who do not work the same way they do.
Indie authors are a diverse group. We are not all following one path and the way we have reached our current state has been through various trials and learning experiences. There is no one answer for any of us; not how we work, how we edit or where we choose to publish.
We are not on the same path as traditional publications. Stop trying to force us into the same mold or shame us into believing your way is the only way. If these people were truly and Indie group, they'd be finding ways to help even the people who do not work in the same ways they do. They would welcome diversity and offer help that embraced