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  • Writer's pictureDouglas James Troxell

5 Common Problems with Indie Books

As an indie author, I've been reading more indie books over the past year. While I've found several hidden gems, I've also discovered why indie publishing continues to carry a negative stigma. The great thing about indie publishing is it allows authors who write original, unique, or out-of-the-box books, books that would usually be rejected by the publishing gatekeepers intent on turning out nothing but cookie-cutter James Patterson garbage, to finally reach an audience. The problem with indie publishing is those same gatekeepers also act as quality control to keep a lot of poorly-written, rushed, or nonsensical books out of the marketplace.

The indie world is the Wild West of the publishing world. There's the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here are the top five common problems with indie books:

5) Unnecessary or Over-the-Top Violence/Sex/Profanity

I'm certainly no prude. I'm a big fan of violence, sex, and profanity (Hell yeah!), but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Without an editor to reel some authors in, some writers go way overboard. Every other word is an F-bomb, the violence (especially toward women) is excessive and uncomfortable, and the sex scenes can be ... disturbing. Sometimes less is more.

4) Cookie Cutter Copycats

To me, the indie scene is ideal for original concepts that maybe don't have an obvious market, but there are many books on the indie scene that are fan fiction masquerading as original titles. Just because you call your small, pipe-smoking halflings "Bobbits" in your epic fantasy, doesn't mean you're fooling anyone. Why rewrite a book that's already been written? I get that you like (insert popular author's name here), and it's fine to be inspired by that author, but rewriting a book that has already been written and trying to pass it off as an original work clogs the marketplace with stories we've already read.

3) Bad Covers

This one I have a lot of sympathy for because a good cover is expensive and sometimes as an indie, your budget is limited. The cover shouldn't matter ... but it totally does. The cover is the first thing a reader sees and there are some bad covers out there. It's tough to make it to that first page when you're staring at a hot mess on the cover. Make it beautiful on the outside so we can get to the beauty within.

2) Incomplete Narratives

This is my new indie pet peeve. There are dozens of Amazon authors out there all reading the same "how-to-make-money-off-your-writing" books and one of the most common tips is the importance of writing a series ... except instead of actually writing a series, some authors take a single narrative, chop it up into five parts, and then pass it off as five separate books (and then, of course, charge you five times instead of once). The most recent "Part One" I read, the protagonist and antagonist never came into contact with one another and there was ZERO resolution by the end. The characters had barely even started their adventure (one character was in a BATHROOM for the entire book). That's not a series! That's a Ponzi scheme. Each book should contain a complete narrative. Get out of here with that "Please pay $4.99 to find out what happens next!" bullshit.

1) Poor Editing

It's the ultimate sin of the indie world: poor (or a complete lack of) editing. No mistake immediately outs an amateur faster than a novel littered with grammatical errors, misspellings, and formatting errors. A good editor is expensive, but it's worth it. It doesn't matter how good the story is, if it's full of mistakes, I ain't reading it.

If you're tired of reading all the paint-by-numbers, unoriginal drivel coming off the assembly lines of Big Publishing, there is no better place to find new and unique voices than the world of indie publishing. Indie authors can continue to help drive readers to our works by avoiding these and other common problems and making sure we are turning out the best work possible.

Looking for an indie title that doesn't commit ANY of these deadly sins? Check out my dystopian comedy, Trumptopia! The United States of Walmart, available right now on Amazon! And the best part? It's not part of a series!


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