The Great Indie Author Twitter Challenge

I’ve seen some blogs and articles posted over the last few months that have referred to eBooks by Indie Authors as complete crap. Indie Author stigma is alive and well in the blogosphere and within the pages of The Huffington Compost. One blogger classified 98% of the eBooks written by Indie Authors as crap (her word, not mine). Can any of these opinions be true? Or are these negative purveyors just out for a “late-night-troll”?

In response to these naysayers, I’ve decided to offer myself a small challenge. Perhaps you may care to indulge in this experiment yourself.

Step1: Go into Twitter and start scrolling. Stop at the first eBook promo Tweet that has an Amazon link. Usually the Tweet is from the Indie-Author him/herself.

Step2: Follow the link and use the “Look Inside” feature.

Step 3: Jot down what you thought of preview.

Step 4: Go back to Twitter and keep scrolling until you find another eBook promo.

** I took a glance at 25 eBooks using the “Look Inside” feature. **


The Results of the Twitter Challenge

In the final analysis, I did not find 98% crap, nor would I say that Indie Authored eBooks are an insult to the written word. Yes, I saw some stylistic problems. I have learned much about editing in the past few years, and can zero things down to three basic errors or should I say non-refinements. They are 1) Echoing Headwords 2) Weak opening line and/or paragraph 3) Overusing forms of “to be.” However, some readers probably wouldn’t spot those problems. They purchased a bargain book and were entertained.

For those of us who have published a few items and have spent hundreds of hours in critique circles; we know crap when we see it. Perhaps I’m being too harsh and wonder if I should give some people the benefit of the doubt. May be their definition of “crap” differs from mine.

Here are a few examples of my criteria for assessing the quality of an eBook with an excrement expression.

The writing is unreadable and unintelligible. If I see an endless stream of poor grammar, spelling errors, punctuation errors, p.o.v. shifting, or incomplete sentences, then I’ll agree it is crap. I can name a few more sins, but I think you get the picture.

Different “Yardsticks”?

There is no difference between 1 inch and 2.54 centimeters. The difference is the markings on the ruler. It is my belief that the insulters and naysayers are driven by one of two possibilities. Either they are paid trolls acting upon the behest of publishers*, or they are “setting the bar too high.”

*I am by no means a conspiracy theorist. However, I am all too aware of the dirty campaigns waged by different factions of certain industries. For example, the war between Edison’s DC vs. Tesla’s AC in the court of public opinion comes to mind.

The Relay Race Analogy

When I say “setting the bar too high,” I am not talking about giving everyone an award or a trophy for participating or a drastic lowering of standards. Rather, imagine a relay race between two teams of runners. Except, one team got food poisoning just 5 minutes before the race, and only one member of the sick team didn’t fall ill. Instead of quitting, the lone runner ran the whole race that was meant for five different athletes. And, he didn’t make it easy for the other team. He gave them a proverbial “run for their money.”

Even though he lost the race, is there any among you who wouldn’t give that runner a standing ovation?


Well, that’s the difference between an eBook from an Indie Author and Traditionally published book. Too often, an Indie Author is simply one person doing the work of many hands. Therefore, when I say “setting the bar too high,” I mean passing judgment while not appreciating the lopsided nature of the comparison.

Indie Authors should not attempt to produce an end product as good as a traditionally published book. We should strive to be better.

DSC00166Every Time You Reply – “Little Frankie” Doesn’t Cry

11 thoughts on “The Great Indie Author Twitter Challenge

  1. “Indie Authors should not attempt to produce an end product as good as a traditionally published book. We should strive to be better.” Love this line. I’ve thought something similar before.

    I’ve sampled many and read many indie-published books, and in my experience over the past 7 years, I’ve found about 10% to be crap. But, in my almost 50 years of reading, I’ve found about 5% of traditionally published books to also be crap. I’ve even gone as far as saying, “What did the author do, sleep with the editor? Because there was no way this book should be published.”

    I have noted one or more of the problems you noted. In fact, I’m reading one right now that needs polishing. It’s an okay story, and I won’t judge it until I’m done, but it is guilty of all three of the above noted problems. Taking a guess, I’d say about 30% of the books I’ve read that were indie-publishing are guilty of this. Heck, maybe I am at time. Still, many of them are still quite readable and enjoyable.

    I don’t worry about the naysayers or the trolls. I have troll-slayers on my team and in the end, I do what I love.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Diane,
    Thanks for loving that line.
    As I look back I do need to qualify something about the three errors noted above. I don’t always find all three of them in play at the same time. It is usually just one of them present. I found “echoing headwords” to be the most prevalent. Looks like you hit the jackpot.
    Agreed, 10% was the crap number I encountered as well.


  3. Great piece, Ernesto. I think the main issue with indie authors whose work doesn’t quite cut the mustard, is that they simply don’t have enough experience. And everyone has to start somewhere…


    • Hi Colin,
      I heartily agree. There is a rather large learning curve. Of course, as with all things, the cream must rise to the top. Those who persist, read craft books, articles, et al, will improve.
      I sometimes cringe at some of my early writings.


  4. I love that last line, and it’s one I’ve often used myself. I wouldn’t worry about trolls, though. I once picked a fight on a LinkedIn group with a snooty woman who trashed all Indies. The very next day, my book had a ridiculous 1* review on Amazon — in all Amazon shops, from India to Japan! Talk about determination…


    • Hi Nick,
      Ooops did I lift that line from you or you’ve written things that expressed the same sentiment?
      The occasional lone troll can’t be avoided, they’re out there waiting to pounce on anything. However, there was an article in the Huffington Compost about indies called An Insult to the Written Word. When major news orgs and big name retailers either insult or ignore indies, one has to think about publishing companies wielding some influence.
      Looks like you’ve picked up a particularly nasty troll. The same has happened to me on Google+. That’s when I decided to write a short story about the life of an internet troll. I didn’t paint a very pretty picture at all. 🙂 Haven’t titled it yet, but hopefully it will be in the next shorts collection.

      Liked by 1 person

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