Traditional Publishing vs. Indie Publishing

Posted January 28, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 18 Comments

Let’s have another discussion post, shall we? They’re always so much fun. 
Today I want to see if I can make some sense of my thoughts on 
traditional publishing vs. indie publishing 
and why-oh-why there is such a line in the sand between the two sometimes.

Before I blogged, I was a blog stalker. Don’t act like that…y’all did it too! 
I noticed blogs say that they did not accept self-published/indie published books
 (Sometimes it would even be boldfaced! What in the world??) 
When I became my a blogger myself,I guess I followed suit. 
I hadn’t ever really read any self-published books because 
if my library had them, I wasn’t aware of it.
 AND…if no one else was reading them…I guess I didn’t need to either, right?

In doing a little research, I found that bloggers didn’t want to read self-pubs/indies because they had what they called “bad experiences” or because of bad editing or various other reasons like that…certainly valid reasons for not reading books! But one day I was sort of browsing around looking for upcoming titles and I found a book with one of the most beautiful covers I had ever seenand my gracious it was an indie! What on earth would I do? 
At that time, I clearly stated in my review policy that I didn’t read books like that but oh my gracious it sounded amazing and was SO PRETTY.
(y’all know I’m a cover girl and cannot resist a pretty cover)

So I requested that book. I sure did. My first indie request. 
And you know what? I was BLOWN AWAY
The cover was perfect. The editing was perfect. The story was amazing. 
And my entire perspective on a whole new new branch of the industry was changed, just like that…
because a well-done cover and great marketing caught my eye, 
and an excellent story with great editing followed. 

I myself (speaking only for myself here) had judged this entire portion of the industry based on what other people said and did…without giving them a chance! That is totally not like me in real life, by the way.
I felt horrible. 
I knew that if I struck gold with one book
~ surely there were other great ones out there ~
so I decided that I’d look around…and you know what? I’ve found plenty of them.

Sure, there are some not-so-great indies
Some could use some editing work
some could use some cover work
and some of the authors could seriously work on their pitch process
But there are some not-so-great traditionally pubbed books out there too…
…and all of the things in this list applies to them as well. 

One of my favorite things about the Self-Pubs & Indie Authors is:
They are so hardworking and supportive of one another.
It is SO OBVIOUS too, y’all. It’s right there on Twitter. 
I LOVE IT. And I want to be a part of it. 
I LOVE being a part of it.
When I read one of their books, it is a JOY to be doing so. 
THAT is part of what book blogging is about…

I know I don’t have the kind of drive and determination 
to do the work behind publishing and marketing my own book, so 
I am forever in awe of this group of people
And for the readers out there who love this sort of thing: 
these authors are super interactive
They typically want to talk to you
respond to you
hear your feedback
and answer your questions
They are all over twitter and their respective blogs. 
Find them!

Now, I’d love to talk for a second about the recent drama that has been happening between the traditional publishing authors/agents and bloggers. I’ve seen several people say that they won’t be buying the books of certain authors…and they are entitled to these feelings and in some cases, maybe justified. I personally would consider these “bad experiences.” So…then…are people going to say that they won’t be reading any more traditionally published books because of bad experiences? 

I very recently read and reviewed and LOVED a book that was involved in one of the major drama episodes. I posted my raving good review, which was totally contradictory to the drama-inducing review that was involved in the mess that was going on while I was reading the book. I was totally oblivious to the entire scandal between the blogger and industry professionals until after I finished the book and started puffing it up on Twitter. I loved the book, still love the book, and wish I could read it againDespite loving it and giving it a very, very positive review, I consider that a bad experience. However, I personally am not going to stop reading books by traditionally published authors and I will re-read that book and continue with that series when it comes out. 

I’m just saying this: I wish more people would give the self-pubs & indies a chance: 
Step outside of the box, step outside of your comfort zones. 
Because there is some amazing stuff out there in indie-land! 
And, likewise, there is some crap in traditional-land! That is just the way it is. 

For those of us who love to read 
you really love a great story – 
I just don’t understand why it matters where it comes from…
there is room in the world for both kinds of publishing
As long as the story is great and compelling, who cares? 

I will say…
~ because I’m sure you are wondering~
 ~and because I’m sure I’ll get a million emails~
(please don’t pitch me your book on this blog post)
in both kinds of publishing. 
I pick my titles based on what I think I’ll enjoy, traditional AND indie.
I do not accept every pitch I get. I couldn’t possibly read all of them, 
and I know that I won’t enjoy all of them. I take indies on a case-by-case basis. 

But you should know, y’all, that for some of the indies, 
I get just as squeally as some of the books from the Big 6.   
I will ballerina dance around my living room just as fast and lovely 
for certain Indies as I will for certain Traditionals. FACT. 

This is not to slam my blogging friends who still do not read self-pubs/indie books. Everyone has their niche and their reasons. Some are really good ones. Maybe you don’t have an eReader, maybe you don’t really read that many books to branch that far from your TBR list, maybe you just don’t want to, etc. Whatever your reason, it is fine! I’m just thinking that this month has been a month of “bad experiences” with traditional publishing…and I know a group of people who work so hard and are so appreciative (like, directly to you, not through an agent) of the time you take to read and share your thoughts with the world. 
I just would LOVE to see more people try indies. That is all. 

Hello, My Name is Asheley.
 I read Indie Published books 
Traditionally Published books. 
And I am/it is awesome. 

Okay, let’s hear it. Who will/won’t read the indies? 
Have you ever given them a chance? A second chance? 
Do you need indie recommendations? Cause I have some! 

Any thoughts or comments? 


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


18 responses to “Traditional Publishing vs. Indie Publishing

  1. Tee

    I was like you Asheley..I would not read Indie books at all. I mean if they have to publish their own books that means they are not good enough for the "real" publishers so why would I read them…that was my mentality. Oops…this is so not correct. Infact I have read many Indie books that outshine any traditional published book. I am glad I found one Indie author on Twitter and she changed my mind..because since then I have read many great books I would never have picked up..not to mention had some great conversation with the authors because they are so receptive to us bloggers…after all we are their advertisement

    • Absolutely Tee. I agree 100% with everything you just said. I feel awful for not giving them a chance sooner, but thank goodness I'm reading them now…I've found some amazing stories! Now I try really hard to be reading both an Indie and a Traditional at the same time. It doesn't always work out that way, but it is just a little something that I try to do…

  2. I, personally, have had both great and not-so-great experiences with indies. But, for the most part, I absolutely LOVE the ones I've read. Sometimes, when I finish an indie, I'll flip the last page and be like – WOW, that was one amazing novel. It's been a blessing to discover and support indie authors who I've really come to like and I'm really excited to meet more of them in the future!

    • Alexa,I bet that is probably the case with most of the people who read self-pubs/indies…they've had both good and not-great experiences…thankfully they don't give up and will still keep reading, just like people do with traditional or Big 6 publishers. I've read some lately that I've done the WOW thing at the end…one in particular that I just was lucky enough to get the sequel to for review and I literally hugged my Kindle as if I was a child.

      It's like when you find small businesses in your community and want to support them…I will wholeheartedly support my favorite self-pubs and indies and I love being a part of what they do. They work hard!

  3. Ems

    I used to avoid the indies because of what other people said too. *hangs head in shame* I was so sure that I would have bad experiences, just like they had.

    But then I manned up and accepted one from a fellow blogger who'd written her own. I. LOVED. it. It was incredibly well-done. The story was compelling, the editing was spotless, and the cover was lovely. When I got the chance to meet her in person, I had her sign my copy.

    Now I'll look at them on a case-by-case basis. I don't accept them as e-books, just because I have a hard time doing much reading on my laptop and I don't have a separate e-reader. I'll take hard copies though, and some of those I've loved just as much as my other beloved books.

    As an aspiring author myself, right now, I'm saying that I won't go the indie route. But you never know. Things could change totally. Only time will tell.

    Excellent post!

  4. Ems, that's awesome. Your decision to start reading indies sounds like mine. And I think it is awesome and totally fine to decide to try and go with traditional publishing with your book when it is done!! There really isn't a right or wrong, ya know? Just different.

  5. This is such a great topic. I'm a new blogger, and when I was setting out to write my Review Policy, I noticed so many examples of people stating they weren't interested in reviewing any indie/self published works. I have to say, I followed suit. But you know what, after reading this, I think I'm going to revise my policy. I don't want to miss out on something I might really enjoy because of close mindedness on my part. Thank you for starting this conversation:)

    • Heather, that's great! I felt horrible for being judgmental and close-minded I feel better now that I read across the board.

      Thank you for being a part of this conversation! There are some AMAZING self-pubs/indies out there.

  6. Like others, I was surprised to see the widespread I DON'T ACCEPT INDIES business.

    The first indie I read was not my flavor. At all. It was disjointed and awkward and I didn't finish. After that, I didn't seek out indies and I said no when asked.

    Then, I opened my heart to the indies again. I read ME AND TENNESSEE recently and despite it not being my all time favorite read ever, I'm still glad that I gave it the chance.

    I've started deciding my reviews based on summary and genre and word of mouth, not so much with the publishing company.

    There are big name publishers that I absolutely adore and will trust just about anything they put out (looking at you, Little, Brown and Candlewick), but otherwise I trust my gut.

    Thanks for sharing this post, Ash!

  7. Hey Lisa!

    Trusting the gut is always a good thing! I'm glad I was able to be "brave" and take the initiative to swim against the stronger current and be my own blogger. I pretty much read what I want to read now, and YAY FOR THAT. There's awesome stuff on either side of the publishing line, and I want to read it ALL.

  8. Asheley: I've had great experiences with both Indies and Traditionals. I never ruled out Indies, but do think that editing can tend toward a negative reading experience. Of course, Traditionals can need work, too.

    I haven't been blogging long, and maybe Indies weren't all that great for awhile, but I think that a reader/blogger/reviewer can miss out on some great reads by ruling out Indies as a rule. A good book is good no matter how it's published.

    Get to reading 🙂

  9. :0) We were just sorta talking about this on your last post! When I first started blogging, I noticed that too. the whole not reviewing indie/self published stuff. It made me think back to those HS days, when you were made fun of for buying shoes at K mart instead of the mall. Stupid, I know, but that's initially what came to my mind.

    I never really did set up a real review policy, mostly just blog for fun at the moment. I was a little nervous about reading my first self pub. I'm also selective like you. I wont read a book that I don't think I will like.. usually, unless a friend forces me. So this particular book had a gorgeous cover and sounded really good. I was surprised by how great it was..

    I'm sure there is tons of not good ones out there, and no doubt I'll come across them. There are a few shiny gems though, and those are what make trying indie books worth it for me. If I start a book and hate it.. then I stop. Move on to the next. I almost feel it's more worth it for me to try indies then published, because if I don't like a published book, I'm out at least 12 bucks or more.. where as an indie.. 99 cents to 2.99, that's morning coffee and a donut.

    On a somewhat related note, I asked my inlaws for a kindle for my bday .. just so I can start reviewing more indie books. Pretty much my number one reason. 🙂

    Great post. My fav part….

    Hello, My Name is Asheley.
    I read Indie Published books
    Traditionally Published books.
    And I am/it is awesome.

  10. April, that's awesome!

    I think you'll love the Kindle…I do all of my Indies that way b/c it is more cost effective for the authors and it saves me space, plus I am a big NetGalley-lover.

    Yeah, I've actually had people ask me do I ever read bad books or books I don't like…which I did a discussion post on before. It's because I'm super selective. Life is so short and there are so many great books, all different kinds.

  11. I think I'm accidentally biased towards traditional publishing. For the longest time I only read what I saw on the shelves in the library, but since I've started blogging I've started seeing more into the indie/self-pub world. I still don't read a lot of them, but I'm trying to be better about being open about them :]

  12. Traditional publishing definitely has an argument, Jasmine! I mean, that IS what is on the library shelves, ya know?? I am a heavy library reader, so I still do read mostly traditionally published titles. But now, I'm just more aware and I'm hoping to spread some of my awareness to other people. 😉

  13. OK, Confession time. My name is Derrolyn, and I'm an indie… and some indies suck!!!!

    When I first self-pubbed, I went on the Kindle boards and joined groups of indies who were brainstorming ways to get the word out about their books. One suggested we swap reviews and I thought okay… until I got a look at a few of them. UGH. This is why I have no books listed on my Goodreads profile.

    I decided I'm a writer, not a reviewer, and I didn't ever want to be put into a tit-for-tat situation, so to speak.

    When I was querying publishing agents with my first book I would have signed anything to get published. Then I saw that Snookie had a book deal (HARDCOVER no less!). I threw up my hands in frustration and decided that traditional publishing was no longer the best or only arbiter of quality.
    You guys are!!! The readers, and the book bloggers that do all the hard work in the trenches have the power now. Word of mouth is much more valuable than all the publishing house swag in the world.
    E-readers have the publishers running scared, and there's a tremendous shake-up underway. Established authors (J K Rowling anyone?) are self pubbing e-books and keeping all of their rights. I predict that dead-tree publishers will morph into publicists, and I know that paper book lovers (Hey- I'm one of them!) will lament this, but I'm afraid that the writing is on the wall – er, the e-reader, that is.

    At any rate, with the 20% sampling available on all the major e-book retailers, you can get a good idea if the book you're considering is a real dog or not.

    As for me, I've decided to keep slogging away, working hard to improve my writing, and trying to build that proverbial better mousetrap.
    Although, confronted with so many "no indie" policies when seeking honest reviews, I did consider putting "Goobersville Publishing" (or something like that) on my query. Fortunately, my rebellious side kicked in, screaming … I don't need no stinking publisher!!!

    And I don't. And I won't.
    Unless they show me the money…

  14. I love it when you do posts like this! Anyways, I am a little hesitant to try indie books. My reading time is so precious and I have limited knowledge of indie books (which do I read??). I do follow a lovely blogger who reads quite a bit of indie published books – and I put a lot of stock in her reviews (Meg @ A Bookish Affair).

    I hope to expand my horizons a bit in 2012 and get to reading some fantastic indies. So glad that you found a wonderful indie to change your perspective Asheley!

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