9 comments on “Overcoming Stigma: Indie Publishing’s Biggest Mistakes, Part III – Word of Mouth Devaluation

  1. As with most things you write, I totally agree. And not cuz of some “I know you so I agree with you” thing but because you have this freakish way of putting to eloquent words the rambling thoughts of my brain.

    I was part of a brilliant writing website back in the day that suffered from this same problem (among others). Actually to be honest the site suffered from many of the issues facing the indie publishing industry. Anyway, as a result of this 5 star ratings and reviews given from friends to friends for often low calibre work many of the more dedicated and talented authors drifted away.

    By and large I tend to completely ignore reviews. My brain is so much a different place than the rest of the world why on earth would I trust “normal” people to tell me what I want to read? Give me a good and compelling description of the novel and I’ll read it. End of story.

    • By and large, I look at reviews from people whose judgment I trust, but I take everything else with a grain of salt since everything is so ridiculously subjective. Interestingly enough, I often find that one-star reviews are the most useful, because people are much more specific when they’re angry than when they’re raving. Sometimes I’ll buy a book BECAUSE of a one-star review — occasionally someone else’s absolute deal-breaker is a total plus for me. ^^

      I do think the close community thing can be a real danger, even though it’s also fantastic and supportive. Critique is just as important as praise, in my opinion, and too often low reviews are treated as though the person giving them is a total jackass. Granted, someone whose review history is entirely one stars probably IS a jackass, but most people aren’t like that.

  2. Yeeaah, the problem with an underdog industry gaining steam is that the spunky habits that help an underdog survive in an established industry become really, really obnoxious and self-defeating once they stop being underdogs. I was a Mac owner in the 80’s and 90’s, before the iPod turned a bunch of plucky second-string computer users into everybody’s “it” crowd. If you don’t adjust the outlook and the attitude (and the ethics), you risk turning into the things many indie authors have vocally lashed out against the last few years.

    • Well-put! I actually have nothing to add to this, other than I’m going to add this comparison to my mental notes for the next time I’m having this conversation with someone. :)

  3. i think the indie publishing group is in the same realm as vanity presses were in the past. Yes they eat into some sales, but in reality, a bad book is quickly passed by…
    Marketing a media driven process beyond reader reviews.

    The reason one wants to be picked up by traditional publisher is that they understand marketing and publicity and have a built in machine that does this somewhat effectively.,
    If the indie publisher does not compete with this marketing, then they become reliant on making up emails and giving themselves five starts on websites.

    • Yup. I have absolutely no business or marketing skills here, so I’m not pretending this series has ANY answers — that’s for the industry professionals. ^^ But I do think that the only-5-stars phenomenon is a little bit backwards — sort of like attempting to give yourself legitimacy rather than it coming from other people.

  4. I’m writing a book. If you give my book a 5 star review, I’ll give your book a 5 star review. Haha. Just kidding… kind of… heh heh. Seriously, I’m not into indie books at all, but I can tell you that there are way too many 5 star reviews for books of any kind. The worst example (that I can think of offhand) was The Passage a couple summers ago. It was getting 5 star reviews all over the place, and I thought it was a plodding, horribly written mess of a book. I don’t think most of those reviewers had an agenda (I hope they didn’t.. that would be a lot of agendas). I think people like stuff because they think they’re supposed to like stuff.

    • Haha! Obviously mutual press has its benefits, or it wouldn’t be so prevalent. There’s something very soothing about the “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” mentality, and it’s a great way to build relationships and whatnot. I’m trying to figure out a way to do it that doesn’t involve nothing but insider congratulations, and I’m coming up blank.

      5-star reviews for books should be for AMAZING, LIFE-CHANGING books, and that’s how I give them. Occasionally a book isn’t perfect but I adore it anyway, and it’s the way I react to it that merits the 5-star reviews, but generally speaking, no, I don’t give them just because.

      People DEFINITELY like stuff because they’re supposed to (which then leads to the opposite — people hating stuff because OTHER people like it, hello hipsters), and that makes me facepalm a little. I like books because I like them, period. There’s always a bit of pressure/disappointment when I dislike a book that a friend is really enthusiastic about, like I failed somehow, but overall I try not to let something’s popularity affect me either way. Granted, if a book is piling up the 5-star reviews and I think it’s ridiculous, I’m going to be cranky and much harsher than I would’ve been if it got middling reviews.

      I also think that many indie authors are missing the absolute boon that is controversy. If people didn’t spend so much time bashing Twilight, I doubt Meyer would have made as much money as she did. Sometimes a few well-placed one-star reviews can be the best thing a new author can hope for!

  5. Your blog was very helpful, thank you. I’m currently working on my first novel and trying so hard to keep it professional while trying to promote my upcomming novel as well as I can.

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