I'm not going to dress this up with a bunch of pretty pictures. This is just me with an opinion. I will try not to rant like a raving lunatic, but there are some trends out there that need to be examined. I want to say now that when I say "Indie", I am meaning everybody who goes self-pub and even the multitude of small presses out there.
If you are here, you either know me, have a fetish for obscure blogs, or somebody told you to check out the crazy guy rambling on about stuff he may or may not be qualified to ramble about. So I guess that raises the first question. What defines an expert? In the Indie writing scene, can there be one? Do we look at sales numbers, freebie giveaways....what? As far as I am concerned, there is no such thing. There may be varying degrees of success, but that's it. And what works for one person may not work for another. Each of us are out there in the minefield hoping to hell we make it to the other side intact. Along the way, we bumble, stumble and basically hope that we will find that magic formula that vaults us to the Promised Land.
Many of us rely on friends--personal or social media types(and yes, you can make REAL friends in the social media, but that is a topic for another day)--and some of the small but helpful groups out there that share ideas with one another. Like it or not, we are the kids in the back of the bus. But for many of us, that is nothing new. If we are going to flourish and not be a passing fad like the Betamax and the 8-track...we need to get our act together. We also need to start shedding the light on some of the dregs of humanity that see hopes and dreams as something to cash in on.
Many of us are familiar with a certain publisher who took terrible advantage of his writers. For some reason, folks continued to just turn away and pretend it wasn't happening. Nobody wanted to get into a conflict with this unstable, abusive and sickeningly unprofessional individual. Then a cry went up and people banded together to finally put this person in his place. He is now a pariah and a cautionary tale. Sure, he may resurface like one of the countless incarnations of Jason from Friday the 13th, but we aren't afraid of his bullying tactics any longer. The lights were brought up to reveal him as a sad pathetic little man.
But that is just ONE. Lately, there is a rumble building over a cover artist. Is it okay for several books to have basically the same image with just a tweak to the color scheme of the picture? Uh...let me answer that. NO. I won't put names out on front street until I have more facts, but I am putting a bug in your ear now. If you look around, you will probably find a thread dealing with this problem. Don't wait for me to have all the leg work done. Look for yourself. Hell...if you find something, email me with details, because I am ready to sound a call-to-arms. And a word of warning...you so-called "Book Packagers" who charge hundreds of dollars to "format and prepare" a book for release (via Createspace or Lightning Source.or whatever)...YOU are next in my sights. Am I saying that if a person is not tech savvy enough to get their books up on their own, should they be able to enlist somebody who can? No. But when you put a bunch of fancy words together and make it seem like a 40 hour job to put one book together (not edit...just format for putlets like Kindle and Smashwords) and charge folks $150-200 for it...you are a snake oil salesman. I will also direct you to a few folks who do that very thing for $20-$40.
Indies, it is time that we clean up our neighborhood. Start calling people on their BS, and holding up a big spotlight on scammers and charlatans. Over the next few weeks as I have time between tasks, I will return with more on this stuff. Until then...go buy a book or dole out the couple of bucks for a book by an Indie. Support local talent. Finding a local indie author is probably easier than you might think.