Book Discussion | A Reader’s Perspective On the Stigma of Indie Novels


Like our social world and the society in which it thrives (good and bad), the big, wide world of publishing has changed. Drastically. Where once an author’s only option (and often their success) to voice their story was publication by traditional publishing (a publishing house) or else go home, bigger doors are now open to authors.

These doors are that of Indie publishing.

There’s a kind of stigma attached to Indie publishing or that’s been my experience. While there are good and bad apples in the genre (as there are in traditional publishing), speaking from personal experience, I’ve discovered some of my favorite reads in this sphere. Since honesty (albeit in a kind way) is always the aim here, I’ll be honest.

I often skip past Indie novels. Or that’s been the truth until recently.

While browsing Amazon, the genre seems to earn a “passing glance” simply because I’m distracted by other novels and often feel as if I have far too many books in need of attention. Below, I talk about a few of my experiences with Indie novels – and why I often pass over them.

Indie Novels: The Introduction

Though Indie books were first introduced to my reading (primarily) palette thanks to the publications of a friend (Amber Stokes), this wasn’t the primary shift to my intro. I think the real turning point (of Indies being common reading material) arrived in the form of Amy Matayo’s The End of the World. The story is a harsh albeit heartbreakingly beautiful look at a pair of teens trying to survive the foster care system.

Now let’s be real for a minute. Honestly, I don’t think I’d have picked up The End of the World. Or at least not with the same urgency as I otherwise do with so many other books. That’s not to say I might not have read it at some point, it’s more that I gravitate towards the happier contemporary novels. Fortunately, I did read ‘World’ thanks to an author launch team opportunity and the endorsement of a trusted blogger and friend.

Indie Novels: A Reader’s Evolution

In the aftermath of reading The End of the World, I was… a myriad of emotions. There was heartbreak, smiles, joy and the all-around winning feeling of being impressed. This story is unlike anything I’d read up until this point. In many ways, it still is.

This novel sparked an interest in this reader. I began to wonder about other hidden gems in the world of Indie publishing and after that, anytime I ran across a trust endorsement of such a book, I sat up to take notice.

Indie Novels

Part of the reason I was skittish about independent publishing is because, along with being loyal to favorite authors, I’m also trusting of publishing houses. The equation that figures into my picking out new books (when seasonal line ups are announced) is as follows:

50% Cover Art (I know, I’m 100% a cover snob – but this IS what first catches my eye)
30% Author
20% Publishing House

Odd as it may sound, if the book is published by a publishing house I “know” (and have trusted/enjoyed in the past), I’m more likely to pick it up or preorder the book.

Fortunately, The End of the World expanded these horizons, which leads us to the place we’re at today.

Indie Novels: One Reader’s Conclusion

No matter the publishing venue (whether Indie or traditional), there can be some “bad apples.” It’s true those who publish traditionally have more options at their disposal (perhaps more editors), but that doesn’t guarantee the best story. Like so many things today, books and styles are subjective. What may touch one reader won’t another. Or something that makes me laugh may seem silly or crude or wholly improper to another reader. This is ok. This is why there are so many voices, stories and avenues of storytelling in our great big world.

No matter how much I’ve enjoyed indie reads, they’ve been a select few that have disappointed. Because of this, I’m still wary, but far more open-minded and excited and interested in the genre than I was once.

Thanks for this goes to a little story that takes us to the ends of two character’s world, and the author who tells their story so heartbreakingly beautifully.

Discussion: What are your thoughts on Indie novels? Have you read any good ones? What Indie novels do you recommend? Comment down below with your thoughts on the subject.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. Ohh good topic! So. I actually used to read Indie novels a lot MORE than I do now. And I had a pretty decent experience overall- certainly no worse than my experience with traditionally pubbed novels. The biggest thing that sort of took me away from reading indie stuff is that I have been distracted by all the shiny trad. books, because as a book blogger, that is generally what the community shares and promotes. And that is what I have sort of gravitated to, which is probably sad. Because some of my favorites were indies!

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: November 2018 Of Books Giveaway Hop Sign Ups
    1. That’s awesome, Shannon! I’m so glad you enjoyed the genre. :) I too enjoy what I’ve read, I just don’t read it all that much. Which I do hope to someday remedy.

      Like you, I’m definitely all about the “shiny” new releases because it’s this I see everywhere. Something I’m really quite OK with because, well, there are some amazing books in this world, too!! :)

      Apologies for the reply delay, Shannon. I really appreciate you stopping by, and sharing!

  2. Hallo, Hallo Rissi!

    Speaking as a 5th Year Book Blogger, I can attest to the fact being a book blogger has expanded my world to be fully inclusive of Indies: which I personally breakdown to referring to the following: Indie Pub, Indie Press, Small Pub/Press, Hybrid and Self Pub authors. I would be willing to read any story by any author irregardless of publishing pathway prior to blogging but my scope of what was available was greatly reduced due to the fact most Indie book shoppes in my region focus almost solely on *local authors*. Which is great on one hand, but horrid on the other – there is a wicked sweet sea of Indies out there – so much so, if I hadn’t started blogging I would have missed so many Indies I now personally love + cherish!!

    I actually don’t have the hang-ups your referring too – for me cover art is brill but ONLY if in addition to the synopsis and later the actual [story] resonates with me. IF not? Cover art becomes what it implies: ART. Nothing more, nothing less. What really gets me to read a book is the synopsis – I want to know if I can emotionally connect to the story, if there is a character (lead, support, minor) I can get behind to read their character arc over and beyond – is this Contemporary (where I wander less often), Historical (my ready addiction), Speculative (ie. Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Cosy Horror or cross-genre), Mystery, Suspense, Thriller — is it mainstream or INSPY? I seek out the story first and foremost – as like you said, our reading lives are subjective to how we personally conceptionalise the story thereafter. What floats one readers boat could be irking the ire of another and vice versa! (lol)

    Now in regards to my Top Favourite Indies – that will take a WHOLE blog post to break-down, so let me focus on the ones I’ve read this year which touched my heart the most:

    * The Regency Romantic Suspense novels by Rosanne E. Lortz – I listened to the audiobook of “To Wed an Heiress” and read the ARC for “A Duel for Christmas” (linked to this comment) whilst I hosted a lovely convo with the author to dig into her writing style and how she built the series. You’ll quickly note how much I heart this series!

    * The Fourteenth of September by Rita Dragonette – dealt with a personal glimpse into being a college co-ed during the Vietnam War. It is not just emotionally convicting it is dearly gutting for the realism and the sharpness of re-depositing us into Judy’s shoes, heart and eyes.

    * Escapement by Kristen Wolf – an LGBTQ+ story-line about identity, legacy and artistic passion in the world of Classical music and composition. It is in effect in a class of its own and told from a narrative POV which is singular individualistic as much as it is uniquely layered emotionally.

    * The Kay Hunter series by Rachel Amphlett – a dramatic crime drama series set within the world of a police procedural in England. I am so dearly attached to the narrator’s interpretation of this series I cannot imagine reading the series in print w/o the audiobooks in my earphones! Convicting, compassionate and fully immersive of a realistic portal of perspective from the police detectives lives, this one lays it all on the line and is full throttle intense! I listened to most of the audiobooks in Spring before I was blessed with the sixth installment.

    * Dream of the Navigator by Stephen Zimmer – this is my 8th Dystopian reading and the ONLY one I can honestly say I loved every inch of reading! Which is saying loads – the publisher (Seventh Star Press) is one of my top favourites for Indie Pubs as well – as you might have seen me previously talking on Twitter about #LelandDragons? You’ll have to read my thoughts on this one to better understand why it resonated so much to be honest!!

    * Trial at Mount Koya by Susan Spann – I’ve been following this series from the original pub to its current publishing home with Seventh Street Books. I had the joyfulness of hosting an interview this year which really highlights my love of the series and the author’s passion for writing about a Jesuit Priest and a rogue samurai in the 16th Century of Japan!

    * The 1920s Historical series by Jennifer Lamont Leo – I read the second in the series this Spring and I am always quite eager for the next chapter of this series due to the dialogue, the setting and the blessed continuity of how she writes these stories! You are in for a wicked awesome reading experience! Plus these are considered INSPY and a clean read.

    * Lona Chang the second #AwesomeJones superhero fiction novel by AshleyRose Sullivan – this is also by Seventh Star Press (who alongside World Weaver Press are my top favourites for SpecLit from Indies) – I loved Awesome Jones and Lona Chang is Awesome’s girl – the continuity was bang-on brilliant but also so is the back-story – as Ms Sullivan keeps you rooted not just in the present situations of what is happening to her heroes but also what gave them foundation and what afflicts them. I am dearly attached to this world!

    * House on the Forgotten Coast by Ruth Coe Chambers – kicked off January on solid footing for Indie reading – the haunting realism of this story and the ways in which she keeps you mesmorised throughout the arc of her narrative! If you read my review you will better understand what rooted me into her vision and what captured my soul as well.

    There are others which I loved reading too, such as the next #AnnaBlanc mystery (The Woman in the Camphor Trunk) as well as discovering a new hero for dramatic crime fiction: Samuel Craddock – these are also by Seventh Street Books which is fastly becoming my go-to Indie pub for Crime Drama & Cosy Historical Mysteries! I also read a number of INSPY or Clean Romance selections from Cedar Fort who write truly compelling INSPY Historical and Contemporaries such as the ones under their Pure Romance imprint series.

    I honestly can’t imagine a world where I wouldn’t read an Indie Author… I can’t even say I prefer Major Trade over Indies or Indies over Major Trade – anymore than I could claim mainstream over INSPY; the truth of it is I regularly seek out the stories which enrapture my heart, my bookish soul and my imagination.

    // if you want to find Indie Authors, look no further than #JLASblog – I read, feature and showcase them continuously alongside Major Trade. If you drop by to visit those reviews I’ve mentioned, due leave me a note underneath them so I can read your thoughts/reactions/takeaways about the stories which enriched and heightened my reading life this year!

    1. I’m glad you’ve made such informed decisions on the genre, Jorie – and categorize them so neatly. :)

      I often find that a pretty cover art is usually accompanied by a good synopsis. Too often I’ll see a cover design and skip the plot because I can “tell,” it won’t be a me read. No matter how we choose our reads, for me, it’s usually all about that “first impression,” and then, of course, I read all about it. :)

      “What floats one readers boat could be irking the ire of another and vice versa! (lol)” So much truth. :)

      Thanks a bunch for the recommendation list. I’ll have to look a few of these names up. I have also heard of Cedar Fort and some of their titles, but I don’t know that I’ve read any of their publications.

      Appreciate you stopping by with all your Indie book thoughts, Jorie. My apologies for the reply delay; time gets away from me.

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