What can Traditional Publishing learn from Indies.

I was recently asked what I thought traditional publishers could learn from Indies.
In my opinion I don’t believe there is much traditional publishers can take from self published authors. I’m not a fan of the indie designation for writers who chose to self publish. There is nothing wrong with being a self published author, after all I’m one, but some writers carry that Indie designation as if it were justification, an excuse, to produce sub-par work and rush it to publication. 

I know many will disagree with me, claiming that maybe traditional publishers should be a little more open to new writers, more willing to take a chance, quicker in their responses, faster to publication,  freer with their money. They are first and foremost a business, and in business the bottom line matters. When a writer approaches a traditional publisher they should do so with the understanding that they are dealing with a business whose sole purpose is to make a profit. The writer is like a manufacturer offering a product to a retailer for sale to the reading public. 

Honestly, as a consumer, would you purchase a sub par product?

The biggest thing a self published author can take from traditional publishers is the amount of editing in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and story structure that goes into a work before it’s released. And before the comments overflow with examples of crappy editing from traditional publishers take a moment and compare the number of known mistakes with the volume of that publishers releases. We’re all human and we’re prone to make mistakes. But that is no excuse for sloppy writing and even sloppier formatting.

The goal of any writer should be to make their writing transparent. You want the reader to experience your work with the least amount of roadblocks and interruptions possible. For me as a writer the biggest compliment I can get from a reader is that the words vanished as they were reading. This is only accomplished by polishing your work. 

I was in an online discussion with a young writer who proudly proclaimed that he switched tense from past to present and back again in his work, on purpose, just to keep the readers on their toes. I attempted to explain to him how important it was for the writer to remove those roadblocks from the story but he insisted that it was important to keep the reader guessing. 

Again I have nothing against those who self publish, only those who refuse to take the time to produce their best possible work.

What are your thoughts on this? Is there something I've missed that traditional publishers can learn from self publisher writers?


  1. I proudly call myself an Indie author, but I also take enough pride in my work to ensure I'm producing a quality product. I have great respect for many other self-proclaimed Indies, although I'd be lying if I said I didn't notice far too many authors rushing their work (much to their disadvantage). IMHO, unless you've redrafted multiple times, sent it to beta readers (and I'm talking educated people who both know their craft and understand how to use grammar), redrafted a couple more times, sent it to another set of beta readers, and then redrafted at least once more, the book is not ready. I don't think enough people get that, and that's unfortunate for all of us.

  2. And sadly there's not much we as writers can do, beyond our own work, about the situation. The gatekeepers served a purpose, and I'll be the first to admit that the business model overlooked some true gems. As for the indie designation I'll not argue with what anyone wishes to call themselves, and maybe one day I too will embrace it. But for me an independent is someone who pulls together a team to complete his vision. An independent filmmaker cannot do it alone. Whereas writing is a solitary task.