3 Gripes From a Frustrated Indie Author


I signed up for the good, the bad, and the ugly in becoming an indie author. The good? Absolute creative control. The bad? As with any writer: writer’s block, nasty reviews, and disappointing book sales always hover, like bloodthirsty mosquitoes. The ugly? I’m about to get into that. There are some annoyances that are unique to indie authors. I have since learned not to take any of these things personally, and to push back, if I even get a whiff of disdain. So, here are the not-so-nice things I hear while on my independent writing journey, and my brilliant rebuttals.

Indie authors are lower-quality writers because they don’t have agents. Some readers assume that you’re an indie author because no agent would take you. That might be true to some extent, but as I stated before, you possess absolute control over your writing projects when you’re an indie author. Go with an agent, or publishing house, and they will often ask you to change certain lines in your books, or decide which covers the books will have. They sometimes even change book titles. I once had a short story, changed so much by a publisher, that hardly any of my original words remained. Yikes. As anyone in the creative field knows, your projects are your babies. And we indie authors can dress our babies however we like. If you want publishers to publish your book, you have to submit to their soul-killing demands. I love that I can release my own words, well, in my own words, design the cover artwork, set my own deadlines, and choose how the book will be marketed.

If people don’t want to read something you wrote because it’s not in a genre they like, fine. But to put a cigarette out on an author’s head because he or she is sans a literary agent is book snobbery. And frankly, it really frosts my cookie. Some superb classics were self-published books: Eragon, The Joy of Cooking, Peter Rabbit, What Color is Your Parachute?, and many more. And some books published by big publishing houses (sorry, not sorry) are garbage.

How about a freebie? Anyone who knows me knows that I’m generous, but this is business. You wouldn’t ask a clothing designer for a free evening gown. And in the writing community, you wouldn’t dare ask Terry McMillan for one of her books for free, so why do people feel it’s fine to ask self-publishers for free copies of their books? It’s very baffling. Sometimes, it’s overt. “I don’t have a Kindle, could you send me a paperback?” Sometimes, it’s covert. “I would love to be a beta reader for that book. Let me know if you need one.” Please stop asking indie authors to gift you with free copies of their books. They usually do giveaways, anyhow, so there are plenty of chances to win one. Or we like to give them as gifts. Either way, wait until we offer a free copy for your enjoyment, or for feedback. Please don’t ask.

Hold my hand. This builds on my preceding gripe. It’s okay to ask fellow indie authors for advice, if you’re attempting your own writing journey, too, but compensate them for their time if it’s a huge favor. I once had a fellow self-publisher message me, asking if I would be his tech support, while he set up his book on the publishing website. I was at work at the time, so I was annoyed. I politely replied that he needed to contact the site’s help line to walk him through each screen. They get paid for that service; not me. Then there are the fellow writers who ask you to edit or beta-read their manuscripts for free. I totally understand that writers are starving people, but at least offer to barter; a free, signed copy of your book, buying dinner, a gift card, posting about their books on your blog, etc. We all win in the indie writing community when we support each other –  and feed each other.

So fellow self-publishers, what challenges have you noticed or faced in your lone wolf writing journey? I open the floor to you.

Sean C. Wright is the author of 8 books. For more information about her writing skills and how she can assist you with yours–business or consumer–visit https://seanarchy.wordpress.com.



I’m pleased to announce the release of my 8th book, Skoll’s Diary.

Africans and African Americans left Earth in 1900, and went to another planet in The Milky Way to escape mistreatment…

It’s now the year 3005 on that terraformed planet. We get a peek into the life of a bright and sensitive teenaged boy, Skoll, through his journal. He loves his world, but is curious about life on Earth. Then suddenly, an epic event casts him in the middle of a difficult decision.  The fate of the planet’s community is in his hands.

Get the book here. I’d appreciate your leaving a review if you read it. Thanks in advance!

Afro-Sean-Commission-Final copy

9 thoughts on “3 Gripes From a Frustrated Indie Author

  1. chicki663 says:

    Preach, sister! As a fellow indie author, I feel you. I recently celebrated my ninth publishing anniversary, and I’ve learned a lot during that time. As indie authors we have to put out the best product we can and close our eyes and ears to the naysayers. Half of them are literary snobs, and the other half are jealous.

    As far as freebies go, we have to price our books so that we can make a good profit. I’ve raised my prices three times in nine years. I don’t do freebies anymore unless it’s for a contest or giveaway. My opinion is if certain readers are too cheap to pay the equivalent to way they pay Starbucks for their daily fix, then I don’t need them!

    I have also stopped the hand holding. I will give aspiring authors a ton of information, which I keep saved to my hard drive, but I will NOT walk them through it step-by-step. Part of becoming a good author is learning how to learn. If they want it badly enough, they should be willing to work for it. Google is free, and I advise them to use it. For a while I considered doing paid mentoring, but I don’t have the time or the patience. Okay, rant over. 😀

    • seanarchy says:

      Thanks, pen sister. I felt it was high time I set people straight about giving indie authors the shaft. If I helped one person with this post, then that makes me very happy.

      Your Starbucks analogy is perfect. I also am puzzled as to why people close to us buy celebrities’ shoes or perfume, but won’t buy our books, which cost a WHOLE lot more.

      But keep writing! I will, too, darling.

  2. Lee Hall says:

    An indie author is an unpublished author who never gave up!

    Great post, my biggest struggle as an indie is distribution (people knowing your stuff exists)

  3. markbierman says:

    I hear you. I feel the same about having a publisher take over and butcher my story, so I keep to the Indie side. There are many struggles with this choice, but you mentioned a few good ones. Lee Hall makes a great point too, about spreading the word about your books. Marketing among so many voices is a challenge and any “professsional” marketer wants big $$$. Thank you for sharing what so many of us go through.

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