Am I More Forgiving With Indie Books Than I Am With Mainstream Books?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: well, read on…

Reason #1: Money Equals Power

Not all books are published equal. We know this. It is ridiculous to pretend otherwise. Books that sell the most are meant to be the most enjoyable. Of course, this cannot be the case when there is money talking for them. Advertisement, brand recognition, and just plain getting people to review it (professional critics and eager amateurs alike), traditional houses offer it all on the greatest scale. The majority of indie authors just don’t have that kind of power or money to propel their book to the centre of attention. The data is skewed.

And let’s not forget the real world: bookstores still exist, and I still borrow heaps of physical books from the library. The only books that are available in these areas are those published by big houses. How many self-published books have you seen in those places?

Reason #2: Hoops.

Books that are picked up by big publishing houses are meant to be of a higher standard. These books have impressed several someones (not just the publishers, but usually an agent too) enough to say “this book is better than the rest” or “this book does something new”. If it isn’t or it doesn’t, then I’m going to be far more disappointed than if I were reading an indie novel.

Let me put this into a little more context: if I find an indie book average, I will give it an average rating and think ‘well, it was worth a try’. If I find, say, a Penguin book average, I will give it an average rating and think ‘well, that was a waste of my time’. My attitude is very different depending on where the book came from, and this definitely comes out in the review. I am not a professional critic, and I do not claim to be without bias (actually, I don’t think any of us can, but at least if you’re aware of it you might be able to catch yourself). So while my review might depend on what emotions I’m running through at the time, I do try to make the star ratings on goodreads consistent.

Reason #3: It’s a tough competition.

This is where my bias rears its ugly head (um, more so). The fact is that I sympathise and respect people who are really putting themselves out there with no one but themselves to back them up. To create something that is wholly their own and ask people to judge it when there are thousands of others doing the same, and you are all starting at the bottom.

That is tough. It takes a lotta guts.

So I have more empathy for people who pretty much throw themselves into the unknown with nothing but their own wits to guide them. Of course, this is true for all authors, but (and this is my own, personal belief) indie authors have a greater disadvantage, in that their voice is SO much quieter than the non-indie author.

Then there’s the human factor. A lot of the indie books I’ve read so far are from people I have met online. That makes the read a little more close to home. Even if I have never met these people in real life, I feel like I know them, and I will review their work with this in mind. Basically, I find I treat indie books with more respect than I do with mainstream books. I might be happy to bag out a big name author out sheer annoyance, but I’m not going to do the same for people who I know. I’ll be more tactful in voicing my issues with a book.


So, really, why would I use the same scale to judge these books? They are not equal, so they should not be judged equally. If I’m reading an expensive hardback and I see a typo or a sentence that doesn’t make sense, I get really annoyed. That’s just slack (especially if I notice it – I know my grammar grasp is fairly minimal.). If I’m reading a 99 cent ebook and I see the same errors, it doesn’t bother me. But that’s only the little things.

Big things like an unoriginal story? Or authors rehashing the same old plot & character bundle? These are unacceptable in a Random House or Harper Collins. Your books are meant to be on another level, and I expect a higher standard. When you don’t deliver, I notice it.

Does anyone else feel the same?


15 thoughts on “Am I More Forgiving With Indie Books Than I Am With Mainstream Books?

  1. Yes, you have explained it quite well. Although, I do find it hard to gloss over lots of bad spelling. In this day and age of spell check there really isn’t much of an excuse. Unless you have fingers like mine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Spell check is obviously the first step, but to be honest I never use it. It’s always fretting about “sentence fragment” and bringing back spell checks for character names or fantasy words. I know I can set it so that it adds them to the dictionary, but I just can’t be bothered (slack, I know). And lots of the typos that I see in print tend to be real words, just not the right ones if you know what I mean.
      I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets irritated by the little things 🙂 the devil is in the detail, after all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • This is definitely something I relate to and you absolutely have a point that books read and vetted by agents, publishers, proofreaders etc should be of a higher quality than those not and overall we are charged more for publishing house books, to pay these professionals, so they should deliver. However, after saying that yesterday I was invited to review a short story for which the newly independently published author was charging just under £4, which is a lot more than I pay for full sized novels from established independent authors and if I was to buy or review this book I would be very unforgiving as it’s a very expensive short story.

        Liked by 1 person

      • A very good point. It’s about value for money isn’t it? Which seems horribly skewed these days, not just for books but for anything. Just because you’re paying a lot of money it doesn’t mean you’re getting a quality product.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think there’s a school of thought in consumerism some marketers exploit, which is, “if it’s expensive it must be good.” This is seldom the case but if you have paid a lot for anything you have raised expectations, which may be difficult to meet if the product was overpriced to begin with.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Right there with you. Sometimes indie books are awesome, they just weren’t accepted by agents or big houses because they weren’t what the “market wanted”. So being original doesn’t always work in the indie’s favor.
    That said, I’ve been more than annoyed a few times after buying an indie book that’s so poorly edited I can’t get past page ten. I’m all in favor of indie author getting his work out there. But he shouldn’t be so hasty to release something that will in no way compete with the big dogs because he hasn’t grasped comma use or formatting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, I’ve been lucky in that I’m yet to encounter an indie book that’s unreadable, but then I’ve only just started delving. So far I’ve been finding books through word of mouth – reviews by bloggers I like, or even when the bloggers themselves have books! So at least I’ve been able to judge whether they have a decent enough grasp of the English language 😉


  3. I just like a good yarn, I reckon it’s possible to get that in WH Smiths or self published off the internet. I do like to stand up for the independent amateur though. There are too many of them ruddy multinational conglomerate things these days. That’s why I still get my beef dripping from Arthur Knaggs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree – everything seems to be just a branch off a larger tree these days, and it’s all a con. You think you’re getting consumer’s choice – but they’re all from the same company!


  4. I’m very grateful that you give Indie authors a chance, Marigold. 🙂 Published authors have professional editors, which certainly helps for story cohesion and grammar etc. Many Indie authors are spending their money on covers, print-on-demand options, IT assistance, unpaid time etc. Employing an expensive editor is further down the list.
    I would hope that if an ebook is cheap, a few errors might be forgiven if the story is compelling. Many authors might even appreciate the feedback. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

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