There are a lot of misconceptions out there about self-publishing. And while most of these misconceptions are just so idiotic they're laughable, there are others that are actively hurting authors everyday. Why should this impact you as a reader, you might ask? Well, if your favorite self-published author is being hurt by something, he/she might decide to bail on writing all together and never do it again, and where does that leave you? It leaves you without a lot of great books to read, that's where. So, that said, here are some things authors wished readers knew about self-publishing:
Kindle Unlimited--a blessing AND a curse
Kindle Unlimited is a great tool for authors and readers. It helps newer authors establish a following, and it gives voracious readers a cost effective way to feed their book addiction. BUT...there is a dark side for authors that not everyone knows about:
Self-publishing isn't cheap
Some folks wrongly assume that all self-published authors do is throw their unedited scribbles up on Amazon and that's that. I can't even tell you how wrong this is for 99% of the self-published authors out there. Today's self-published authors pay for photos, cover design, editors, beta readers, sensitivity readers, proofreaders, and formatting. These costs can add up into the thousands, depending on who you hire for what--and that doesn't even include marketing costs (which, yes, self-published authors handle all that themselves).
What you can do to make authors' lives easier: Don't complain about their prices. They know how much they invested in the book, and I guarantee you it was a TON more than they're charging you, so maybe don't rant on social media about the fact that their new book is $4.99 instead of 99 cents, yeah?
DON'T STEAL FROM THEM
I've heard book thieves use every excuse in the book for justifying why they think it's OK to steal from authors. They'll tell you they're too poor to buy books, or that it's not hurting anyone because authors have plenty of money, or that all books should be free anyway. The simple fact is that there isn't an acceptable excuse for stealing books. If you do it, you're a thief. Plain and simple. There are so many places online to get free books that it's ridiculous. So, even if you don't have access to a library, pirating IS theft. You're taking money directly out of an author's pocket. And you being poor doesn't excuse that theft.** If you can't afford books but have access to the means to steal electronic copies online, I can point you to at least 20 different places to get more LEGALLY FREE books than you could ever read in a lifetime. Don't even talk to me about this one. Long-story-short: a lot of self-published authors are poor, too, and they've invested a fuck-ton of time and money in their books. If you steal from them, you're a thief AND a dick...so, good luck with your karma.
**NOTE: Before anyone feels the need to argue, I will say that in many areas of the world, access to books is severely limited, and that's part of a bigger social problem than what I'm discussing here. We DO need to get people in these parts of the world better access. I don't have the answers for how to do that. What I DO know is that most book pirates aren't the people in underserved markets worldwide who are just struggling to survive on some days. Most pirates are middle-class-upper-class white people who could definitely afford to pay for books. They just don't feel they have to for....reasons/excuses. There was even a Reuters study about it not too long ago. You can look it up if you don't believe me.
What you can do to make authors' lives easier: DON'T STEAL FROM THEM. And if not being a thief isn't good enough reason for you to be a decent person, try this one on for size: That series that you love so much? If the author feels it's losing money because it keeps getting stolen, they'll just decide to quit writing it. Then you'll be stuck with a half-finished series you loved because you (and probably a bunch of others) had to be a dick and steal from the author.
Don't believe the crap
I've heard all kinds of myths about self-published books. The old stigma is that only people who can't publish traditionally self-publish, and that self-published books are all crap. That wasn't even the case back in the olden days of self-publishing! Authors have a TON of reasons for why they might decide to self-publish rather than traditionally publish. For starters, self-published authors don't have publishing companies reaching into their pockets and taking a HUGE cut of their proceeds. And that doesn't even touch on the subject of artists wanting a kind of creative control over their work that can't exist in traditional publishing. And we've already touched on the fact that the majority of self-published authors hire editors just like traditional publishers use. So, these myths are just tried, outdated, and flat-out stupid.
What you can do to make authors' lives easier: Don't listen to stupid myths about self-publishing. If you're curious about how something works, ask a self-published author. I'm sure they'll be happy to put stupid myths to bed.
It's OK to do it for the money
I get really sick of hearing people on the interwebs saying that authors should be writing solely for the love of what they do and not profit. But...and hear me out on this one...why can't they do both? They're creating a product that we consume. Why shouldn't they be paid fairly for their labor? The love of writing does NOT put food on their tables.
What you can do to make authors' lives easier: Don't assume that it's all about the profit for them, but also don't expect them to live on your praise. The two things aren't mutually exclusive. Most authors love what they do--and they deserve to be paid for it.
Boycotting Amazon doesn't help them
Look, I get it. Amazon is a corporate monster and I can see the appeal in buying everything from your local bookstore instead of feeding the beast. But a lot (not all) of small bookstores buy into the stupid misconceptions about self-publishing and don't carry self-published authors' books. And don't even get me started on all the small shops who don't support romance. It probably won't be possible to get ALL your books locally if you want to support indie authors.
What you can do to make authors' lives easier: Please do ask your local bookstores to carry your favorite self-published authors' books. They might do it and that'd be great. But if they refuse, consider supporting authors wherever their books are...even if they're on Amazon.
But what about all you authors out there? Did I leave anything out? Let's discuss!