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Self-published books: pain or gain?


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In reply to an earlier post on 20 May 2012 12:22:29 BDT
"Some self-pubbers are crap because they can't write and should be told so as quickly as possible. Some are awesome and are no different than anything or the books you might find."

Hence my question. Do the good novels outweigh the bad ones or vice versa? To me, and that's only my opinion, it's the latter which is a shame.

Posted on 20 May 2012 13:52:10 BDT
Yesterday in Waterstones I met two guys who wanted to ask me all about how hard it was to self publish now.

The first was a chap in his late 60's whose local history book ( through a local small press, if I recall aright) sold 22 thousand copies and had been on the shelves in his local ASDA. He wanted to put it out again.

The second was a lad in his 20's who was fed up after getting 30 rejections of his fantasy novel, and was thinking of self publishing it. When it was finished... no he hadn't bothered proof reading it or having a beta reader...

Two authors, both looking at self publishing: but two very different books there.

The second

Posted on 20 May 2012 14:11:57 BDT
Fed up after 30 rejections?

Hope you told him that's nothing. :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 20 May 2012 14:21:19 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 May 2012 14:21:54 BDT
Sou'Wester says:
22,000 is a fantastic figure for what appears to be a fairly specialised book. I've worked on local publications where we've been chuffed to sell a few hundred. However, it's more than likely that the older man's work was the result of months - years even - of research and effort, and the actual writing of the book may represent only a small fraction of the time and effort expended. I imagine, too, that the book was packed full of original information and was a really worthwhile project. The younger lad may well have put a lot of work into his book - though I suspect nowhere near as much as his senior - but imagine that the chances of this being anything other than a third-rate derivative novel in an already over-saturated market are very, very slim.

Posted on 20 May 2012 16:11:04 BDT
Yes, Stella, I fdid say that he was only about half way through. But, I hope, I convinced him that actually finishing his book, the getting it proofed and copy edited, were prerequisites...

I assume he told the agents/publishers that he hadn't finished writing it yet....

In reply to an earlier post on 20 May 2012 16:15:55 BDT
A mistake many do in the beginning when writing fiction. Being new in this business brings a lot of downfalls with it. The only thing I blame people for is not doing their research, which is admittedly easy with a friend called Google.

And half way? My friend has collected about 600 rejections.

Posted on 20 May 2012 16:35:02 BDT
Chris Mawbey says:
I read self published authors on Kindle and, for the most part have enjoyed what I've read. This is probably because I check out the author's blog or website and read the synopsis of their work before I buy the book. The product description on Amazon also influences my decision to buy.
I've come across some really good self pub'd authors who I will read again.
The most annoying thing I've found is with traditional books that have been translated to ebook format. There are often a lot of formatting problems with these. Given that these have come via "professional" publishers, then the errors are unforgiveable.
The ease of self publishing is bound to bring a wide variety of quality. The buyer just needs to do a little extra research on an unknown author before parting with their money.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 10:14:09 BDT
That's true. About the research. I saw a lot of books not even having book descriptions when older and from traditional publishing houses.
Re self-published authors, I just want a story that keeps me captivated. So far, I had a few that started promising and then dropped, as if the authors lost their common sense along the way.

Posted on 21 May 2012 10:39:38 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 May 2012 10:39:58 BDT
DaveOz says:
I reckon it'll be a few more years until we can say for sure about the state of self-published authors. Those who realise their work isn't selling because it maybe isn't that good will drop away, whilst the really talented, determined self-publishers will keep plugging away and continue to produce quality work because they've built up a readership outside of loyal family and friends.

I'd love to know if there's a few self-published authors who are not motivated by the cash or the kudos, but write for the sake of writing and the fact they just can.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 10:46:01 BDT
Problem is that those often rubbish books sell and the authors keep plugging.

I do agree, though, that hopefully there will be a natural selection over time.

Re self-published authors writing for the sake of it. As soon as you submit to agents, publishers or Amazon, you're writing for money and rightly so. It's a profession. You don't go in the office every day, even if you love your job, and ask your boss not to pay you, do you?

Posted on 21 May 2012 10:46:58 BDT
Can't believe it's going on today, too with the damn post eating. Amazon, fix your damn website!

Posted on 21 May 2012 10:49:52 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 May 2012 10:50:07 BDT
DaveOz says:
"You don't go in the office every day, even if you love your job, and ask your boss not to pay you, do you?"

Okay, maybe I should've said 'not motivated' or 'not concerned' by the money. It doesn't have to be as clinical and cut-throat as your suggesting.

Posted on 21 May 2012 11:22:14 BDT
If you want to make a living from it, it has to be. :-)

I openly admit that I want to make money, but I won't prostitute myself to write what readers want, I write what I want and hope readers like it. Which they do, but not enough of them.

Posted on 21 May 2012 11:43:39 BDT
Janet says:
Interesting discussion, and forgive me for butting in but I am an indie author, and I have to agree the market is overflowing with substandard books, all with five star reviews. I have never written with a commercial goal, which is why I struggled to get a publisher-I could attract agents quite easily but then I kept being told that my work-although lively and interesting etc etc; was not mainstream enough.
Like Stella, yes it would be nice to get a steady return, but I write primarily for the sheer joy of it. I thought not being mainstream made me a bit more individual but it seems to have worked against me in the past. At least now, it's not just the big guys calling all the shots, and I seem to be building a little fan base but the promotion is painfully difficult.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 13:57:24 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 May 2012 13:58:11 BDT
You already butted in on the first page. :-)

I want to ask you how many self-published books have you read (roughly), how many have you finished and how many blew you away?

Me, I read slowly, so it's a bit of tricky situation, but I finish about every tenth book from start to finish and none of them left me with a feeling of sadness after finishing the book. (Sad that it's finished, not because of the ending.) The last book that I really really enjoyed was We bought a Zoo, published traditionally.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 14:25:25 BDT
Mark Wilson says:
I'm an Indie-author, Scottish and Dyslexic, and I assure you that I take great pains to ensure that the story I tell is the very best it can be in terms of characterisation, grammar, spelling and formatting. I know that I have deficiencies in my written language so it only makes good sense to employ people to proofread and edit my books. Irvine Welsh is a very niche writer in that he uses the Scots' dialect to great effect in highlighting the differing social status and levels of education of his characters. Even as a Scot though I did find trainspotting difficult to read because of this, whilst later books were a bit easier to follow. My own debut novel contains a few Scots phrases in the context of conversation rather than narrative, which I think led to Irvine's text reading like a train of thought.

Inevitably, because we're not machines, whenever a massive project is undertaken (like a novel, especially a debut novel), mistakes creep in despite the use of many people in the process of quality control. Sometimes these sneak through. I'm always very grateful if someone lets me know of a mistake they've found in my book, and never ever take it for granted. Normally I try to offer them something in return.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 14:25:45 BDT
Mark Wilson says:
I'm an Indie-author, Scottish and Dyslexic, and I assure you that I take great pains to ensure that the story I tell is the very best it can be in terms of characterisation, grammar, spelling and formatting. I know that I have deficiencies in my written language so it only makes good sense to employ people to proofread and edit my books. Irvine Welsh is a very niche writer in that he uses the Scots' dialect to great effect in highlighting the differing social status and levels of education of his characters. Even as a Scot though I did find trainspotting difficult to read because of this, whilst later books were a bit easier to follow. My own debut novel contains a few Scots phrases in the context of conversation rather than narrative, which I think led to Irvine's text reading like a train of thought.

Inevitably, because we're not machines, whenever a massive project is undertaken (like a novel, especially a debut novel), mistakes creep in despite the use of many people in the process of quality control. Sometimes these sneak through. I'm always very grateful if someone lets me know of a mistake they've found in my book, and never ever take it for granted. Normally I try to offer them something in return.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 14:38:12 BDT
Mark Wilson says:
Stella, i'm an indie-author and I have read around 15 other books published by Indie-authors. I did so initially to gauge the standard prior to publishing my own book. I have to agree that many of these books ranged from nonsense to boring with the odd very rare gem thrown in.
Surely though, that's the fun in an open industry like the one publishing is now becoming? Finding that rare gem. That's how music and movies work, for those of us who dig beneath the effluence of the mainstream. Why should books be any different? Bad books have always existed, traditionally published or not. With most indie-authors what you get is a story they are passionate about and have poured their heart into, instead of some agent or publisher's comittee produced idea of what is marketable. Sure some are rubbish, sure It's disappointing when you've paid good money for a book and it turns out to be rotten, but with prices so competitive for indie-published books, that there's a cushion for your disappointment in getting books for under a pound or for free.

here's my advice, start (if you don't already) reading reviews, following links from boks you've like, writing reviews to help others find that gem, make lists on listmania of your favourite indie-authors, you'll be surprised how many people will suggest other authors to you when you review and use lists. Soon you'll begin to trust a little group of authors, who in turn (because their indie) will interact with you, and other readers, passing along books tghey've loved. Just a thought.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 14:39:56 BDT
Mark Wilson says:
Exactly the right attitude in my view. The beauty of amazon's look inside is getting that free peak into the book's contents. If you're not gripped, move onto the next. You shouldn't have to work hard to keep interest in any book.

Posted on 21 May 2012 14:50:45 BDT
Janet says:
I've read and reviewed a lot of indie books, and on the whole I think the standard is pretty good. I agree, there are many below average but I think you can suss them out from that first sample chapter.
I constantly strive to keep improving and I think that my best book is the one being edited now (White Horizon) However, I can still see mistakes in my first two in terms of format (little glitches due to changing onto kindle from a typed manuscript) and I know there are grammer glitches. I intend to go back and fix this. However, I do feel that my stories are well structured and characterised but then I have had several near miss situations with publishing so I do feel reasonably polished. In terms of being blown away, it happens very rarely, even with traditionally produced books. However, the last one was Mist by Mary Fitzgerald, and there were a lot of mistakes in the text but WOW what a story. I loved it anyway.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 15:05:59 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 May 2012 15:16:22 BDT
Mark, I know none of my posts are perfect, but yours is just an example for people writing off Indies if they can't even produce a post almost free of errors. Yours is all over the place, not a very good advertisement for an author. But that's a different issue.

I'm not talking about a few typos, missed words or else, we're all humans; not even about wrongly used dialogue attributes, those books I'll often dismiss after taking a glance at the sample. It's the storyline that does my head in. Of course it's great that authors don't have a committee deciding what's right for the market, but on the other hand the freedom will have people produce things that are beyond acceptable. Being passionate about something and being good at something are two very different animals. My friend is passionate about singing French hip hop. Fortunately, he restricts himself to doing it in the shower only.
You read about fifteen self-published books and your verdict is the same as mine if I understand correctly. It's not only disappointing (for me) re the money, that I can live with, but the time. I'm a slow reader and getting to 30% might take me a week. And since many books fail keeping up the good story after that, I end up with a lot of unfinished books.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 15:10:40 BDT
How can you suss out a book after the first chapter? Not regarding storyline, you can't. That's what I'm talking about.

Posted on 21 May 2012 15:22:49 BDT
Janet says:
No of course, the storyline test is about 30-50 per cent way through. It's that dip in the middle and tests whether the author has done the job right in providing enough threads to keep the interest going.
I am quite honestly astounded at the sheer volume of self pub books. My personal grouse as well is the soft porn which comes under the heading of erotica or even romance. Anyway, I digress. Maybe there should be some kind of inspection board you have to get past first!

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 15:29:47 BDT
That's exactly where my problem lies: 30 to 50% in the book and I often wonder what the author was thinking. It feels like they started out with a great idea, then didn't know how to finish it half-way in and just threw in something to get a complete book, whether it really makes sense or not, they don't seem to care. Very disappointing. Some have good promise and a great voice and I wish they had consulted a writers group or an editor to get the book on the right track.

Erotica has the tag on it because it is erotica. :-) I don't read it and I avoid books with those naked bodies draped over each other. Terrible. But it sells well.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2012 15:31:40 BDT
Mark Wilson says:
Stella, I'm not really sure why you've went on the attack with me when if you read my comment properly youll find i agreed with you and offered a bit of advice from my pimited experience in the area,but I'll put it down to a bad day. As for my post being "all over the place" I'll disagree there, but as I'm highly dyslexic I suppose there may be a standard unacceptable to you. This is why I hire proofreaders and editors. I'd appreciate you not judging the quality of my work on the basis of a few comments on an open forum. In all honesty your aggressive tone baffles me but thanks for responding anyway. Have a good day.
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  409
Total posts:  9815
Initial post:  17 May 2012
Latest post:  16 days ago

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