Independently published authors come under a bad rap consistently, and I do think that every reputation has its origins. There are probably many authors who do these things—and a lot—but I would say that most do not. And there are varying levels of guilt.
Defined: inserting or pushing your book by leaving links to places your book is made, or by making comments about your book and its awesomeness. There are times this is acceptable. There are times it is not. Usually not.
Friends and Family Reviews
Unless you have an unusual relationship with your friends and family, they will give your book the best words they can. They’re supposed to be supportive.
Paying for Reviews
I know of at least one very popular author (it was a few years back) who paid for two book reviews. One came with the option of no publication should the review be a “bad” one. Reviews are supposed to be for readers, but this is a marketing ploy.
Bad copy editing
Misspelled words are confusing or distracting. Poor word choice is even worse. There are plenty of people who harp on editing, so I will not bore you with explanation on why this is bad.
Bad content editing
Worse than misspelled words and missing apostrophes is when the story does not fulfill the reader’s expectations. Just because your chapter has perfect grammar does not mean that it should be in your novel. Plain and simple.
Let’s be honest: If you pay for a cover, it had better be an attractive one that tells a story, is easy to read, and looks professional. If a cover goes awry, it hurts the author. Bad investments are bound to happen in every business, but are minimized by being transparent, having high expectations, and knowing what you want.
Being an Indie Author
For the reasons listed above, as well as preexisting notions that only (and all) “good” books get taken by traditional publishing houses, simply being self-published means that you are going to see Indie Authors cursed up and down in forums and reviews.
I have not seen too many authors who actually do more than two of the things on this list. It is about the same, actually, as those books that are traditionally published. No matter what book I have in my hand, I want to take the red pen to it. I can’t help it. Usually, I want to delete whole pages. In any case, we must be vigilant as Indie authors. Knowing what you’re up against is the first step to overcoming it. And, readers? Please do not swear off all Indie authors because you came across a bad apple. It’s rather similar to hating all banks because one screwed you over.