An open letter to indie authors

Dear Indie Authors,
This letter is directed ONLY at those of you who are ruining the industry for the rest of the indie authors, and for authors in general. if you are a courteous, talented, detail-oriented indie author who doesn’t put out crap, this does not apply to you. But you might want to read it because those OTHERS, the INDIOTS, are ruining it for you.

A few days back, on a FB group I started, an author or an author’s husband posted something similiar to this.

“My wife is sick, and we don’t know what’s wrong. She’s been sick for a day and half, and now is very behind. Please buy her books and give them as gifts to help us out.”

Now, I’m not much for text-speak, but pretty much the only reaction one can have to this is WTF? Are you KIDDING me? I know authors who have cancer, have lost loved ones, lost pets, faced mystifying diseases (yeah, that’s me) and more. And they have NEVER resorted to such a pathetic excuse for publicity. This is guilting at it’s highest, and it will backfire.

Why oh why do people do this stupid shit? You are HURTING other authors who are trying to make it in the industry, and do the RIGHT way, even while staying indie. Yesterday, my dad had a massive coronary, and they were forced to do surgery, even though his heart was very weak, with blockage in every artery. I messaged my friend Renee at one point in the day, when I was out in the ICU waiting room with my computer, and said, “Hey, Renee, my dad just had a massive heart attack. We are unsure if he is going to make it. Will you tell everyone to buy my books because now I’m behind schedule.” Renee, of course, knew I was not serious, and was referring to some of the IABB we have seen on our Facebook groups.  This was a joke, and an attempt to laugh when life seemed a little grim. Renee knew I was kidding, and did not bombard anyone with the ridiculous plea. But the bottom line is, PEOPLE ARE DOING THIS. I have CVID, which is a serious autoimmune disorder, and I spent yesterday at the one place most dangerous for me to be. The hospital. But I did what I had to, and I’m not going to beg anyone to read my books and buy my books if I get sick now. Why? Because this is the equivalent of standing on a street corner with a sign saying, “Will work for food.” If you WOULD WORK for food, you would be working. Yes, unemployment is high, but McDonalds is always hiring, as is Seven-11, and telemarketing corporations, and numerous other jobs that you might think beneath you. I sent three years with the IRS. I did not love this job, but it was better than standing on a street corner with a sign, and I had benefits and was able to provide for my daughters.

I don’t understand why indie authors don’t do the research, study, and discover what it takes to be a SUCCESSFUL (or at the least self-respecting) indie author. Again, this is not all indie authors. There’s a long list I could present of those who are doing it well, and I will probably compile it on another day when I am not so exhausted.

Here are some examples of Indie Author Bad Behavior, heretofore called IABB.

1. Reviewing your own books on Amazon, and giving them FIVE STARS at that, is not acceptable. Even if you use a pseudonym. Or twelve. This is one of the most ridiculous things I have EVER heard of. If you have to write a fake review of your book, perhaps you should take up knitting instead. This is on the 10 scale for IABB. If you think readers are fooled, you are wrong. They are NOT stupid, and you are making them hate ALL authors. For example, I innocently wandered into the Amazon reader forums one day, and almost lost an arm and a leg, and one eye. In other words, READERS HATE YOU. The problem is, READERS ARE YOUR AUDIENCE, not the other indie authors you are continually harassing with promotion. If your READERS hate you, they are not going to buy your books. You don’t want them to hate you. This, if you do the math, does not work in your favor.

2. And then there is the glut of “preaching to the choir.” Why are you targeting OTHER indie authors? This, folks, is not your target audience. Any marketing and promotion beginner can tell you that. Here is an excellent blog post about this very subject. Posting spam posts on authors’ FB walls is not only rude, it’s annoying.

3. Stop THANKING everyone for following you on Twitter. Or Retweeting your Tweets. Thanks is not necessary. I have searched and searched for a Twitter-quette guide, but cannot find one, but “thanks for following and read my book” is a big turn off for me. I can imagine others feel the same. How about interacting with the follower instead? Ask a question. Comment on something they say. Stop the IABB.

4. Stop STEALING copyrighted material to make your book cover or put on your Website. I had an author oh-so-innocently ask if anyone knew if a particular picture was copyrighted, as she wanted to use it as her cover. Yeah, it was High School Musical. Indie author, meet copyright violation lawyer. If you want to know more about copyright, you can read my post on it. GOOGLE is not a stock photo site. If you want to use someone else’s intellectual property, you must either a) purchase it or b) have written permission. Innocence is no excuse. Educate yourself.

5. Do NOT attack reviewers, no matter how strong the desire is. Reading is subjective. If they don’t like your book, they don’t like your book. If they don’t review it, even if they promised, it’s possible they didn’t like it. They might be doing you a favor by NOT reviewing it.

The Goodreads site has turned into the IABB Junior High School. This is quite unfortunate, because this is a venue where you can actually REACH your target audience. Readers. Of course, most of the people who friend you are indie authors, and they immediately respond to a friendship acceptance with a “please read my book.” It doesn’t matter how nice you say it, folks, it’s STILL annoying. Please don’t do this anymore. It’s bad marketing.

Not only that, but a group of indie authors started a Website calling reviewers “bullies” and “outed” many bloggers who review books, including personal information about them on the site. Now that, my friends, is bullying behavior. Not liking your book does not quality as bullying. Not reviewing your book, even if they verbally promised it, is not bullying.

And then we have the adult who is harassing a teen blogger, was involved in some sort of prank sending her a fake picture, and has sent her harassing emails including one wishing her death. Wow. Who is the teenager here? I responded on this author’s blog post about how he was going to release a list of “bad bloggers” because they were swindling authors. Oh really. Obviously you have been a writer for, what, half a day now? Do you even KNOW how many books are sent out for reviews that NEVER get read? I do. So you’re an indie author, and you have to pay for the book copy. That was YOUR choice. And don’t send me nasty missives saying I don’t have a right to comment because I am not an indie author, and am New York published. I have my own small publishing imprint, and thus work “indie.” And the rules are the rules no matter how you publish. For God’s sake, LEAVE REVIEWERS ALONE. Setting up a “GR Bullies” list targeting reviewers, makes YOU the bully. IF they don’t like or review your book, so be it. Sure it doesn’t feel good. b

The “brave new world” of publishing is awesome.


About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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3 Responses to An open letter to indie authors

  1. Marlyn says:

    Well said, Natalie, thank you. As a reviewer who often receives review requests, I try to be diplomatic and tell authors I may not review the books they send me. I get a LOT of books, but I’ve made a personal policy not to post negative reviews, even though they may be fun to write because a) I don’t want to spend time on being nasty and negative, b) I don’t want inadvertently make an enemy, and c) I really don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.


  2. JM Madden says:

    Good gosh. Every one of these are true! Yes, the publishing world is more dynamic now than ever, but people are losing sight of basic common sense. And basic politeness.
    I received a negative review on GR the other day, which is fine, but then the woman had to call me b***h at the end. What was the sense in that? It just made her look bad.
    Am I going to release her personal information? Hell, no. Obviously, she’s not my target audience.
    Am I going to go out and create a fake name, and post myself a 5 star review to counter hers? Hell, no.
    Sorry, got a little ranty there. Excellent post. Exactly what I’ve been thinking for the past few weeks.


  3. But I’ve had a headache for the last couple of days… and I haven’t been able to work. So can I post a link to my 374 badly written books here in your comment section so that -732 people will buy my (now) 375 books that I have listed on 37 different sites?



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