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Many independent authors write with the “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to” attitude. The assumption is that because I have chosen to write as an independent author, I do not have to adhere to the industry standards.


We may want to “rage against the machine” with our independent works, but keep in mind that the machine knows more about the market than most of us. Do they get it wrong? Absolutely, but it is foolish to go so far away from the industry that you lose sight of the market (that is if you are writing to sell books – more about that in a moment).

The industry missed a few diamonds in the rough, Amanda Hocking for example. This young lady made over 2 million dollars on her books after countless rejections by agents and publishers in the paranormal romance genre.

Now, Amanda Hocking has become a pioneer for independent fiction writers, and keep in mind that she did all of this without any publicity. She just posted her novels and let them sell themselves.


I am not suggesting that you stifle your creativity when it comes to self-publishing. In fact, let it soar. Publishers will limit you, if you let them. Scenes that are critical to you will not be critical to your agents. Those scenes may have to be cut, even at the expense of the story.

If you are self-publishing, you have the ability to keep those scenes and craft the story anyway that you like. This gives you the total freedom to have the novel that you want.


The problem with self-publishing is that we may be too attached to our work to do a true edit. This is where we shoot ourselves in the foot. EXTRACTED, my first book in the The Pioneers Saga, finished at a whopping 185,000 words!

That’s insane! That’s obviously way beyond the industry standard which is 80k – 120k for fantasy.

Not afraid to use the hatchet and the axe, I hacked through the words and sliced the novel down to 119,000 words without losing any of the story!


Hmmm…now what happened?

I knew that I couldn’t just keep a bunch of nonsense lines and jargon, so I had to squeeze out every ounce of excess that I could until the bare bones of the story poked through, leaving only good writing and good storytelling.

Many independent writers refuse to be objective about their writing, so in the end, they produce a book that the market doesn’t like, all in the name of “sticking it to the man,” or “I am writer; hear me roar.”


To get back to the comment from above, if money is the reason that you are writing, then you might find out that you’re going to be deeply disappointed. Writers who write because they love the craft will always enjoy writing, financial success or not.

Writers who are writing for the money will only enjoy writing if they are financially successful, and the statistics are against you.

That said, I think that we should hope to sell books – millions even, but if that is the motivation for writing, then it won’t be nearly as enjoyable. I didn’t start writing for the money, and I certainly won’t continue writing for the money.


We can become strong self-publishers! If we use the research that the industry already has done for us, we can better create novels that appeal to the public without the need to succumb to the industry itself.


  1. mariathermann

    Well said! One of my pet hates is seeing self-published books where the author has made no attempt whatsoever at proofreading, spell-checking and editing. Presenting a mess of incorrect spacings, excessive underlining, bold or italics use, spelling errors, word confusions and badly constructed dialogue, such authors then wonder why nobody wants to review their work or take it seriously and buy it en mass. If the writer can’t be bothered to make their product the best it can be, why should a reader pay good money for it and spend their valuable time reading it?

    We don’t go into a supermarket and pick up a badly wrapped, squashed item and go “hey, I really want to buy this, this looks great”, do we?

    1. wstadler Post author

      Thanks, Maria! I completely agree. I believe that is completely our responsibility as self-published authors to produce the best product that we can.

      I still comb through the first book just checking to see if there are any missed errors, and I cringe when I find them.

      It’s laughable to me when people feel that they can produce shotty works and expect people to buy them, because that same person would never buy something similar from another author.

      Thanks again for the well said rant, and trust me, I’m right on that soap box with you!

  2. taylor

    I’m trying to publish my novel I wrote when I was 14. Now, at 16, the book is ready to be published I just dont have the money. I love writing and always have. My dad got me a website set up for the book to raise money but I’m having trouble deciding on how to pick a part of my novel for the exerpt. Any ideas ? I’d absolutely love if you could help me since I saw you in the News and Observer because of your book !


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