The Stigma Surrounding the Independent Artist

Issue #102
Blog #15-2019
Section: General Post
Blogger: Joseph Clay

We all know about the stigma surrounding the Independent Author.

People critique every aspect of an Independent Authors work right down to the book cover.

We have been told we put out subpar work filled with spelling errors, bad grammar and poor sentence structure. The plot is full of holes and the characters are weak and non-relatable.

The general census for these shortcomings is due to the Independent Authors have no talent and/or the proper education to write a novel worth reading. After all if we were qualified to be an Author we would have chosen the traditional avenues of publishing and offered a lucrative deal.

I had a younger author tell me that at lunch one day she was reading through the suggested changes she needed to make to her manuscript. An older woman walked up and started a conversation.

“I once dreamed of writing a book. I got as far as submitting the manuscript over a hundred times and received a hundred rejection letters. What publisher picked you up?”

A Dream Crusher

The young author explained that she had chosen to publish her own work as an Independent. The older lady replied.

“Child get an agent and submit your manuscript to the publishing houses while working at a real job that pays the bills. Your writing may be awful, like mine, but if it is good someone may sign you. Till then stop wasting mom and dad’s money publishing your own work and chasing a dream that may never come true.”

A Dream Crusher

The next section is directed towards the ‘Dream Crushers’.


Some of the greatest Authors alive and dead were rejected over a hundred times, that is no reason to stop pursuing the dream. Just because you gave up on your dream and are stuck in a boring nine to five job doesn’t give you the right to try and destroy someone else’s.

Dream Crushers here are some facts for you to soak in.

90% of Independent Authors do work full time jobs. What separates them from the ‘Dream Crusher’? The Independent Author is so dedicated to their dream and craft that after work they spend another two to five hours or more writing. That is after taking care of their responsibilities at home.

8% out of the remaining 10% are like me, retired and living comfortably while writing.

That leaves us with 2% who may have their parents helping them with funds to get published. Even if that is the case that is their business and shows a strong family unit and a desire to help their children achieve their dream.

Choosing to be an Independent Author or Singer is a choice we make and one that takes guts. You need tough skin, dedication and a love for your craft to withstand the onslaught of criticism and to ward off being eaten alive. We know this yet still elect to take this path.

Independent Authors are considered entrepreneurs and have a high intelligence level.

Think about this ‘Dream Crushers’ Independents have elected to by bypass the traditional way of getting published. That choice eliminates the commission an agent and publishing house would charge, putting more money in their pockets. That sounds like a smart thing to do.

Enough about the ‘Dream Crushers’. Let us move on to why Independents must band together to lift this stigma that swirls around us and the work we produce. Then cover how to accomplish the task.

The world is full of people that write. They pen their thoughts in a dairy daily, some journal their accomplishments and life events. A ton write blogs that cover a wide variety of topics. Then we have those that write because they feel if they don’t their soul will die. This is the group we must pave the way for.

The young lady that had the conversation with the older lady could be another Anne Rice, Patricia Cornwell or Margaret Mitchell. Who knows the older lady could have been another Harper Lee or Mary Shelley, if she had not given up.

Within this group we may find another Stephen King, James Patterson or Phillip Margolin.

We have to open the door for the generations that will produce writers like Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m betting there is another Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck in this group.

We all know the best of the best get rejected and it is discouraging. What if this group gives up on traditional publishing and decides to be an Independent. As they start the process the writer hears that no one would buy their books due to the stigma surrounding those type of authors. The literary genius tosses up their hands and walks away from writing.

What a shame it would be if these people who felt they had to write to live never publish their work for the world to read. The question is how can independents break through and get the respect from the public and others to stop this travesty from happening?

Back to the top.

Unfortunately what people think and say about the published works of Independents holds some truth. This is where we must start to remove the mark that is upon the Independents.

I blame two sources for this.

  • The Independent Author
  • The Self-Publishing Industry

I’ll start with the Independent. I don’t care how smart you are or how many degrees you have hanging on the wall you can’t publish quality work alone.

The first thing a potential reader notices about your book is the cover. Sure you can get cookie cutter book cover templates out there for free or next to nothing. Most of these covers are two color and contain nothing but the title and authors name.

Nothing screams Independent Author who didn’t want to invest in his own work like a two color, no graphics, book cover.

Find a graphic designer who can design a cover that depicts the story and draws the potential reader to it. The graphic designer you select should be familiar with book cover design as there are requirements the cover must meet.

The written text, this includes spelling, grammar and sentence structure; should be as close to perfect as possible.

The story plot and sub-plot should be solid and structured with a hook beginning, strong climax and a definite ending. The characters should be believable and have good and bad traits along with flaws. Remember no one is perfect so your characters shouldn’t be either.

A Professional Editor is needed to assure the final draft has all the above before going to print. Since you are going to need a professional editor bring them on board early utilize their expertise. The process I like the best and the one I use is as follows.

  • Write manuscript (1st Draft)
  • Read and Self-edit by writer (2nd Draft)
  • Manuscript Review by Professional Proofreader/Editor. The review will cover the plot, characters and formatting along with any other details with the story that may need to be addressed.
  • Author revises manuscript review and makes changes to manuscript using the Review as a guide line. (3rd Draft)
  • Manuscript edit by Professional Proofreader/Editor. This includes catching the spelling, grammar and sentence structure errors. The editor will also review the other manuscript changes that were suggested in the Manuscript Review.
  • Author makes changes according to the mark ups in the manuscript. (4th Draft)
  • Editor Proofreads manuscript after all edits are made.
  • Author makes any changes found in the Proofread (Finial Draft – Ready to Publish)

The second part of the problem is within the Self-Publishing Industry. These are the companies that feast off eager uninformed independent authors. These places will publish whatever the client sends them… for a price. Some offer editing, book cover design and formatting packages…for an additional price. The client can refuse any one or all of the services and only pay to be published. Without reading the manuscript the self-formatted and edited manuscript with a cookie cutter cover goes to press.

These companies have no set guide lines or standards of what they will publish. They care nothing about quality only quantity. They tell you flat, it’s not their reputation on the line. It’s the name on the front of the book.

Client pays they publish. Here is an example of what I’m talking about.

A client purchased a printing package that included ISBN, formatting for paperback publishing and a non-graphic two color book cover along with editing.

The editor from the publishing company contacted the author to inform him he had major plot issues. The author stated he didn’t want his plot or story changed and to only check the manuscript for spelling, grammar and sentence structure errors.

The publisher agreed to the clients wishes.

The publisher and editor left out one important feature about this book that should have been discussed with the author. The book contains around 11,000 words, which is only 44 printed pages. That word count falls in to the Novelette category, which has become nonexistent.

This book should have only been published in eBook format due to its length.

Why didn’t the publisher inform the client of this? The answer…money. The client didn’t select or pay for the eBook formatting, although the printed format and eBook are the same. The publisher was not about to turn down a dollar. Publishing a physical book cost more than downloading an eBook to a website.

The conclusion; the company printed a 44 page book with a plot that needs work.

The author did not realize and was not told that the printing charge for a 44 page book is the same as a 248 page book. That has put the author in a tight spot as he has to sell a 44 page book for $8 to clear cost and make a small profit.


We as Independents can’t change the way these types of publishers operate but we can start with sending them an impeccable manuscript for them to print or publish in eBook format.

I hope you found this article helpful and informative. Thunder Horse publishing will be posting more blog in the near future that will cover everything from ISBN’s to how do I start a novel.


Reference blogs:


ThunderHorse Publishing ©2019

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