March 17, 2014

Why Indie Authors Fail

Why Indie Authors Fail

I’m not saying indie authors aren’t making it; in fact, some of them are doing amazingly well. Every day it seems as if another success story is in the news, not to mention that indie authors have staked permanent spots on the bestseller lists. It has taken a few years, but the stigma once associated with being an independent author is quickly disappearing. Despite that newfound success and acceptance, tens of thousands of indies can’t sell more than a handful of books.

Why Is That?

Visibility, of course, is one huge reason. If readers can’t find your books, they obviously can’t read them. But let’s talk about the books that readers do find…and then decide not to continue reading that author’s other books. Why does a reader stop?

Is it plot?

You might have the best, most complex plot in the world, but not every reader will agree. Some will love it and others might think it’s bad.

Is it your characters?

Your characters might be real, deep, bursting with emotion, but some people might despise them and think they’re one dimensional.

No matter what you do, no matter how good your storytelling, or how clever your point of view, or how pitch perfect your dialogue—you will encounter readers who disagree with all of it. They’ll become bored with your storytelling, claim your POV is distracting, and your dialogue is off. But there is one thing that everyone agrees on, and there can be no disagreement.


Readers cannot disagree on mistakes. It’s not a subjective decision. It either is or isn’t a mistake.

• If a word is misspelled, it’s a mistake. 
• If a word is used wrong, it’s a mistake. 
• If words are repeated, it’s a mistake. 
• If words are missing, it’s a mistake. 

Mistakes are the one thing that readers can, and do, agree on. Not all of them will trash a book because of a few mistakes, but many readers will. Here are a few comments taken from reviews I found on the Internet.

“I purchased this book based on the number of 5 star reviews. They must have been relatives because this book was riddled with errors. It’s the last book I’ll read by this author.”

“Had a good plot, but the mistakes distracted me so much I couldn’t enjoy it. I stopped halfway through.”

These were two out of thousands. But neither one of these readers will be buying books from those authors again. That’s a steep price to pay. It’s difficult to attract a new reader. The last thing you want to do is lose them over a few mistakes.

Why Indie Authors Fail

Why Do Indie Authors Fail—Mistakes

You can’t control what readers think of your plot—some will love it and some hate it. You can’t control what they think of your storytelling or characters, or anything else—except mistakes.

They are the one thing that is universal. If your book is riddled with mistakes…well, it’s riddled with mistakes. There is no other way to say it. Out of all the problems that can be found in books—character development, storyline, dialogue, plot, setting, prose—mistakes takes the crown as the number one complaint from readers about independently published books. And the most amazing thing, is that mistakes are easy to fix. It’s tough to redo a plot, or completely restructure a character, but mistakes are easy.

Bottom Line

Work hard at producing a mistake-free book. Hire editors and proofreaders, edit backwards, go to universities, join critique groups, find beta readers, sell your children…do whatever it takes—but get rid of the mistakes. And if some slip through anyway? People will tell you. When they tell you, pull the book down and fix it.

Remember, there are two ways to do things—the right way and the wrong way. You decide.

Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,


If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

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