5 Things You Should Never Say to an Indie Author

The next installment of the Indie Author Life series:

This post can apply to a variety of people, not just authors. Some of it also applies to traditionally-published authors. Bottom line: ignorance of the publishing industry is a daily reality that drives us crazy at best, and makes us wonder why we bother writing at worst.

5 things you should never say to an indie author:

When are you REALLY going to get published?

Somehow, despite the fact that my book is available on a number of online retail sellers – most notably, Amazon and Barnes & Noble – some people are still under the impression that no agent = not ‘really’ published. If someone’s books are available for purchase and they earn a royalty for each, guess what: that means it’s been published!

On that note…

How much do you make?

This is a rude question to ask anyone, period. If you mean to ask how much royalty I earn, the answer would be 70%. But as for my monthly earnings? Yearly? That’s none of your business.

How’s the writing hobby going?

Any allusion to writing as anything but a career, be it a hobby, a past-time, or something that’s ‘just for fun’ is offensive. It takes time for an author to build a solid platform and readership. We’re working our butts off to try and stand out among the thousands of other authors who churn out a new book every few weeks or so. According to one source, that comes to roughly 10,000 self-published books per year. You may think we’re crazy (and we probably are), but please respect our dedication to what we do.

Why don’t you just get an agent?

There’s no such thing as ‘just’ getting an agent; it’s a lot more complex than that. I haven’t ruled out the possibility of querying someday, but I’m enjoying being my own boss for the time being.

Why don’t you get a real job?

As previously mentioned, building a platform is one of the hardest parts about being a writer: in my opinion, it’s harder than writing the book itself. Very few people enjoy overnight success. Since I’m in this for the long haul, I expect it will take years before I can expect my books to pay the bills. But there’s nothing else in life I’d rather do, so I’m willing to accept disappointments and failures along the way to achieving my goals. There is no shortcut to anything worth doing.

But here are some things you can do to help your favorite indie authors…



47 thoughts on “5 Things You Should Never Say to an Indie Author

  1. I used to be asked the question – “So how many books have you sold?” ALL the time in response to me saying I was an Indie Author. People wouldn’t just ask once, they’d ask me every time they saw me – “So how are the book sales?” I interpreted it to mean “How much money do you make?” or “Do you really sell your self-published crap or are you just pretending?”
    I finally asked someone why they asked these questions and they were genuinely surprised that it was a rude thing to ask, they thought that asking number of books sold was an ‘obvious’ question to ask an author. When I told them that trad pubbed authors wouldn’t even know their numbers, as often they’re not told the details, he was shocked.
    Funnily enough, when people used to ask for numbers sold, I had no idea because I’d never counted the totals. So one day, I added them all up. Since then, no one asked how many books I’d sold!
    If anyone does every ask me again, I might just reply – “Enough to have fans all over the world, but not enough to buy my VW camper van yet.”
    Great post, I’m going to share it 🙂


  2. Pingback: Wednesday Reblog | Leigh Michaels

  3. Thank you so much. My first novel published by up-and-coming POD publisher and not selling much (yet, will fix that after I take care of current details). Second novel published by Amazon as an e-book. Did an indie interview/promotion latter part of last month. Pleasantly surprised by the results. Working on an author page now. Any suggestions on which is best__WP, FB, or Create Space? Had a friend ask me one day why it takes so long to write a novel? Why don’t I just do it and why is it so much work if I love to write? I just looked at her, too dumbfounded to reply. Will reblog this on my site. Thanks again.


  4. Great post. OM sent me here 🙂 I think its a huge misconception that people have – that writing is a just a hobby or if your successful you’re either James Patterson or Stephen King and that’s not true either. I’m really liking nowadays how writers are challenging the status quo. So yeah keep breaking down walls. XD

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Saddest of all are the indie authors or those published by a small indie press who let their friends think that ‘published’ means that they have a publishing deal from a traditional publishing house. You know, the ones who like to say ‘my publisher’, and call their best mate who gives their books a read through ‘my editor’. Totally agree on the money thing, by the way. They’d soon moan if you asked them how much THEY earned!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There’s also, rather curiously, the jealousy that learning of your authorship sometimes evokes – like, you’re doing something they’ve always wanted to do. Well it’s almost certainly much more work than they’ve imagined, but if they wanted to do it that much, they would.


  7. Pingback: More Things You Shouldn’t Say to an Indie Author | Sarahbeth Caplin | Author & Christian Feminist Thinker

  8. As an Indie author I’ve noticed that even mainstream authors are going the Indie route and skipping the agent. Self-publishing is no longer the wannabe’s medium. It’s a legitimate avenue that has allowed thousands to get around the “gatekeepers.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • The biggest reason I’d consider querying an agent someday is their access to bigger connections that are a lot harder to reach on your own if no one has heard of you. That being said, it makes me feel better to know that not even traditionally published authors are spared the task of marketing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s like you can only be a JK Rowling to be taken seriously. I’ve gotten plenty of poor starving artist eyes when I say “I’m a writer” in response to that dreaded “What do you do?” question…before even mentioning what kind 😉


      • And then you have the comments from people who’ve just heard you’re writing fiction along the lines of “What are you writing? The next 50 Shades, I suppose?”
        I don’t get insulted so much as find myself thinking of the questioner in new and unsavoury terms 😉
        Great post!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. As an indie author, I like to think I bring something to the literature table that simply wasn’t there before. While I haven’t heard all of the 5 things you should never say mentioned to me, I confess I have thought them in fits and starts. Overall however, I am enjoying my indie author journey and remain blissfully content that I will either break through or I won’t. Thanks for the post, Beth.


    • I’m becoming more okay with the idea that my ‘real job’ is what pays me in joy, not dollars. I might do a post later about how the publishing industry is turning in our favor. Thanks for your comment!


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