The rise of e-books (and the flurry of devices for reading them, such as Kindles, Nooks, Ipads, Kobo‘s, etc to infinity) has led to a surge of independence in the ranks of professional writers. These Independent (informally: Indie) writers have caused a huge uproar within the writing and publishing community, but what it means for readers is that there are now literally thousands more books out there for them to read. Sounds great, right? But, I hear you all asking, are there actually more books out there worth reading?
I think that is a definite yes. For readers, indie writers are a good thing.
What exactly is an indie writer, though? Contrary to popular belief, they are not all wild-bearded hermits, living their lives in seclusion. Mostly they are regular folks (or regularly irregular folks) like you and me who happen to have a talent for telling entertaining stories and are not able to convince marketers that their work will entertain a significant portion of the population. So they decide to publish it without the support of a large firm behind them. Sounds a bit like corporate rebels, right?
But can a book without a big publishing house behind it be more than a poorly edited stock plot, with generic characters? If profesional editors won’t take it then can it really be any good?
Eh, I would say, maybe. Then I would ask how many books you’ve browsed through in Barnes and Noble (insert your favorite bookstore) and thought “Maybe I should be a writer, I mean, if this crap sells it can’t be that hard!”. Or something far more pithy and humorous. You get the idea.
So how do you as a reader know if an indie author is worth your hard earned cash?
Honestly, it is the same way you tell if any book is worth your money. Is the cover made with attention and care or is it a lot of fuzzy, splotchy, poorly knitted together photos and color gradients? Is the description well written? Does it describe a book you would like to read? Does the author have a website or any type of public presence? Is there a print copy of the book available? The answers to these questions will give you an idea if an author is serious about their writing and has a fair chance of providing entertaining fiction or not.
A great many indie authors are excellent writers who are tired of playing by corporate rules that limit or utterly block their chances at reaching their audience. Like in every crowd, you have your cons and Sally-come-easy’s, but readers should not be discouraged by those people, just as you shouldn’t let the probable presence of pick-pockets keep you away from fairs and theme parks. Most indie authors work just as hard as their traditionally published counterparts to ensure their books are properly edited and formatted and fully prepared to entertain you.