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…



About Beth Caplin

Just an author, blogger, and editor working hard so my cats can have a better life.
This entry was posted in Writing & Publishing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to 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. Thanks for posting Beth! Enjoyed reading your blog here!


  4. Reblogged this on Cogpunk Steamscribe and commented:
    These are five things you shouldn’t say to any writer. Most of these are just plain rude.


  5. lovessiamese says:

    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.


  6. AZVHV.wordpress.com says:

    “Real” jobs are overrated. Keep up the great work!


  7. This is great! There are a lot of people that tell me I shouldn’t self publish and to actually go get it “published”.


  8. I hear ya. Indie author here and proud! Heard all of these too. How I pay my bills is none of your business (just know that I do and on time) and yes, this is my real job. Thanks for posting!


  9. Franz says:

    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

  10. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    These are good points to know about Indie Authors! Thanks for sending me the link! -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here, please comment on their post.


  11. Terry Tyler says:

    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

  12. 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.


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

  14. Reblogged this on I Love Romance Blog and commented:
    Some very good points here…


  15. revhans says:

    Reblogged this on Reece Evhans and commented:
    I love this post! Thanks, Sarabeth!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. excellent! i’ll be sharing this (if you don’t mind)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. 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

    • Beth Caplin says:

      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

  18. ashleenorth says:

    Reblogged this on Live, Love and Learn and commented:
    This is a well written and poignant piece about the world of Independent Authors… 🙂
    Ashlee North – Author http://ashleenorthauthor.com/

    Liked by 2 people

  19. M T McGuire says:

    If it’s any consolation I have trad published friends who get asked pretty much all those questions… except for the first one. We’re not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beth Caplin says:

      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

  20. Elle Knowles says:

    I need to copy and hand out as flyers! LOL!


  21. denmaniacs4 says:

    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.


    • Beth Caplin says:

      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!


  22. russtowne says:

    Reblogged this on A Grateful Man and commented:
    For writers and readers alike. I especially like the info about how readers can help their favorite indie writers.


  23. russtowne says:

    I enjoyed this post and am re-blogging it on Imaginings of a Grateful Man. Thank you!


  24. Really great article and so true! There’s other questions you can add as well but this is really great!


  25. Jack Eason says:

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    The classic chestnuts, idiots ask of writers.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog….. An Author Promotions Enterprise! and commented:
    Great article and I especially like the Ways You Can Help Your Favourite Indie Author visual 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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