Tuesday 11 September 2012

Indie v Trad – The Battle Rages On

I don’t get this indie/trad warfare. Traditional books are better because they are edited. Er – no. Indies have editors too. Indie books are better because they are cheaper. Amazon is often selling best-sellers at 20p these days. Trad writers can write better books because they don’t have a day job to distract them. Nope – a lot of trad authors have day jobs – advances are less, and sometimes non-existent for debut and even mid-list authors in some smaller houses. All the myths on both sides can be debunked with little or no effort.

But why do we have to compare?  Why differentiate at all? From the reader’s perspective, he or she doesn’t care how the book came to market. The reader looks at the cover and the blurb; maybe a sample or a few reviews if they exist. Then it might be the price. Indie authors have less overheads so can price ebooks lower – true. But amazon can fight back with their 20p promotional sales of the big names, so that argument goes out of the window too.

I guess the only time a reader might care how the book got to market is if they have been burned by poorly-edited indie books in the past and have now decided to boycott anything that smacks of self-publishing.  That’s down to the author. Trad writers have editors, yes, but indie writers can too – you might have to buy in editing services (and cover design and anything else you don’t have the skills for), but if you want to be a professional writer, that’s the price you have to pay. And that’s what all writers should be aiming for, surely? However you publish a book, there is no excuse at all for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes or just bad editing.

I would prefer to bring all writers together, not talk about their differences and make allowances. I want to be treated by a reader the same way he or she would treat any other writer - with the same expectations of professionalism and a quality product. Is that too much to ask?


Lawrence said...

You echo my thoughts, Debbie. My own view is that this type of "warfare" has more to do with traditional publishers running scared of the future. When in fact, they should be embracing it.

Mhairi Simpson said...

Brilliant post, Debbie. I get so frustrated at this ridiculous debate. A lot more writing would get done if people on both sides weren't so busy through Word-atov cocktails at each other.

Personally, I will be pursuing every publishing option open to me, in the name of diversifying my income. That doesn't mean I intend to self-publish unedited junk. My self-published work will be as good as I and my editors (yes, plural) can make it. Same as my trad and small press published stuff. If you'll excuse me, I have to go and write now.

Debbie Bennett said...

@Lawrence: I think you're right. It started out as trad publishers running scared, but then the indie writers got on the defensive which does nobody any favours. We're all writers - we should all be supporting each other.

@Mhairi: Indeed. Channel the frustrations into plots! There's plenty of room for all of us.