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Self-published books: pain or gain?

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In reply to an earlier post on 26 Sep 2014 00:39:51 BDT
'being different and *good* that's the trick'

I disagree and say, just being 'good' is the trick. Most SP authors aren't. But then who decides what's good? There's only this much 'different' that can be achieved, for there's nothing new anymore. Unless you have a book describing the passionate sex life of a woman with random dogs. That, however, can be written as good as it gets, I wouldn't be interested in reading that. Guess that'll have a niche market, though.

Hi, hon, by the way. :-) And everyone else, of course.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2014 21:40:59 BDT
Frank Mundo says:
I wish we could fast forward another 5 or 10 years and see what the publishing world looks like then. Look how different it is now from 2008. It's an interesting time to be involved, that's for sure. I wish everyone the best in your pursuits, indie and traditional.

Posted on 24 Sep 2014 21:13:33 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Sep 2014 21:14:49 BDT
Ah, I see what you mean. In that case, yes I believe in what I write because I wrote it for me. I am pretty sure my stuff is quite commercial but because it's such a mash up of genres that makes it a hard sell. I didn't even try to find a publisher to be honest. But it was 2008 so there weren't many.

Is indie better? Well for me, yes. I read little else. I choose carefully and I've stuffed one up but otherwise ive really enjoyed everything ive read. if the punctuation is consistent and it shows me where the sense is I need no more. It doesn't have to be perfect. I don't know what perfect is.

So yeh, indie books are a huge gain for me because the stuff the big trad publishers won't touch is often the stuff I want to read. I still like authors who do that ordinary made extraordinary thing though.



Posted on 24 Sep 2014 18:46:51 BDT
Frank Mundo says:
Truly great writers, artists and horrid novelty and experimentation aside, all the rules change. Forget Graham Greene and Terry Pratchett. I'm talking about the 9 zillion of the rest of us writing the same-different detective/romance/coming-of-age/sci-fi/general fiction whatever novel. Yet, because we love it and believe in it, (as we should), and because we have this opportunity to publish it to the world, we all seem to think it's the right thing to do because we're writing something better, something more polished, something more innovative, something overlooked by the big publishers, something genre-bending, something readers would love if they only gave it a chance (despite the utter saturation of the market) -- or else why would we do it? Maybe we are writing something better. Maybe we're delusional. But, to me, that "maybe" is what self publishing is, good or bad, art or commercial. These are the books we had to write and felt compelled to share at our own expense without help or approval or the blessing of the traditional gatekeepers. For whatever reason, we believe or we hope it's somehow going to add to the larger literary conversation. That's more what I meant when I said that the problem is that everyone I meet swears his book is different.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2014 11:31:05 BDT
Exactly, the nub of great writing is that it shows you mundane every day things in a way that you've never seen them before. But I still think that you only have to look at how many writers have become great, after their deaths, but didn't see a peep of it in life... like Keats.



In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2014 08:55:25 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Sep 2014 08:57:26 BDT
gille liath says:
Few of the truly great writers have been notable mainly for novelty - maybe Joyce, maybe Lawrence - can't think of too many others. They've all innovated in their own ways, but you don't read their books and say 'wow, this is different'. You say 'wow, this is great'. Equally, few of the really novel writers have been great.

The main thing novelty has to recommend it, I suppose, is that it helps you stand out in a crowded market. Except that, as you say, everybody claims they're different.

Posted on 24 Sep 2014 07:38:57 BDT
It depends on what you consider commercial. So, I think Pratchett and Adams do that very well but the law of probability means there must be many others doing it just as well who have not succeeded commercially the way they did. Writing a good book is the point, but as far as I can see, the commercial success it enjoys subsequently is a totally random factor. All the author can do is put in the hard work, set it up to go and give it the best chance they can with their marketing. The rest just depends where the fairy dust falls.



In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2014 00:36:03 BDT
Frank Mundo says:
I don't know, I'm with Tui. It seems the opposite to me -- that doing the familiar well is more likely to lead to a great commercial achievement than an artistic one.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Sep 2014 23:23:07 BDT
Tui Allen says:
So true Frank. We're all the same.

Posted on 23 Sep 2014 10:20:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Sep 2014 10:25:26 BDT
Good point. That may be why I love writers like HE Bates, Graham Greene and Terry Pratchett so much; because there are huge chunks of the familiar in their writing that put you right in there with whatever is going on. To a degree even Adams, who is right out there in many ways, has that same knack of adding mundane stuff or embroidering elaborate theories that resonate because they are based on some piece of sod's law which is familiar to all of us. The one about finding stuff, for example. If you are looking for something you won't find it, you will only find the thing you were looking for previously, so if you want to find your keys look for the thing you lost last week or an object of a similar shape and size from another dimension of reality that you have never seen before. As someone who spends about 50% of their time looking for things they've misplaced, that one definitely resonates with me! ;-)


Edited to remove the random 'I guess' with which my auto text had replaced the cheers MTM bit.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Sep 2014 09:44:06 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Sep 2014 09:48:44 BDT
gille liath says:
Being different isn't necessarily so hard, is it? It's being different and *good* that's the trick. Otherwise you end up like that Dan wotsit who was on this forum for a while, whose book was a list of times he went to the bog or something on those lines.

Actually I think one of the biggest achievements in any art form is to do the familiar thing well - so that it does seem like something new, and not merely a re-tread.

Posted on 23 Sep 2014 00:00:10 BDT
Frank Mundo says:
The only problem is, every writer I meet swears his book is different, including me. It's like everyone thinking he has a good sense of humor or sense of style. Clearly, some of us are wrong.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Sep 2014 13:50:44 BDT
So true. Now for the hard bit. Writing that commercial, sensible book.



In reply to an earlier post on 14 Sep 2014 13:08:14 BDT
Ethereal says:
Alternate sounds like a good idea - in fact many writers do shorts for mags and enter comps to bring in the cash to pay for their real passion, and as you say good reviews from the former could benefit the latter! Compromise is needed for most areas of life so why not writing.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Sep 2014 09:46:23 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Sep 2014 09:47:56 BDT
I heartily agree but at the same time, to do the best for my stories, to get what I want to say out there, I need money to produce it in a way that'll do it justice. I have a form of dyslexia so editing is a big expenditure for me. That means that if I want any more of my stuff to see the light of day I'm going to have to write something more mainstream, or in a genre that sells, in order to pay for production. Otherwise I will fail my QA standards, and therefore fail all my stories, by failing to publish them.

That's my biggie right now. When the time comes, that desperate need to communicate, to get my stories out in the open, will be hard to resist. If I write what I like to write, few people buy it - oh sure a reassuring proportion love it when they read it - but it's not an easy sell. So if I stay happy writing what I want, I make myself unhappy in that I have to consign it to the desk drawer until such time as I can afford to get it out there - probably some years down the line unless the crowd funding pays off.

It's funny... well, actually no, it's not funny... but I'm beginning to understand how self published authors hit publish when they know their stuff isn't ready. I'm not saying I'll do it. But I'm beginning to understand.

When the time comes, doubtless I'll find a way or I may have accrued enough sales of the K'Barthan Series by that time. I do think I'll have to alternate though: one piece of comic whimsy and then a sensible book to fund it. I'm not the first author who's done that.



In reply to an earlier post on 13 Sep 2014 22:01:38 BDT
Tui Allen says:
Personally, I can't be bothered writing unless there is something that I desperately want to say. Nothing to do with what might sell. I know the money-making advice is "Write to a market." But I just cannot do that. My stories just arrive (or not) in my brain and HAVE to be written. And I feel I have to do the best I can for the STORY. Not for the market. I must not let that story down or it might be wasted. I'm working on a book for a marine conservation charity now, so if any money is made it will go to them.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Sep 2014 21:25:32 BDT
I have but I'm a little leery of it in case it's a bit of a beauty pagent. I should imagine you have to spend a lot of time on the Unbound forums raising your profile. It's an option though, especially since I will have to crowd fund or do something like Unbound if I want to publish anything else. I might have enough for one more book. It depends how much I can raise selling off my tat on eBay.



In reply to an earlier post on 13 Sep 2014 21:20:53 BDT
Probably not! ;-) I think that if I had a publisher for some stuff, it would make it easier to get recognition for my self pubbed stuff. A lot of review sites won't even countenance looking at a self published book but reviews from them carry kudos which would rub off on my self pubbed stuff. In theory. I would like to make enough money for my writing to finance itself. At the moment it doesn't get close and there's nothing in Real Life that will finance it either. So for the next one, to be honest, I have to find a publisher to take the risk or go back to sticking them all on a hard drive somewhere and forgetting about them.



Posted on 13 Sep 2014 18:05:09 BDT
I Readalot says:
There is a new kind of publisher around now, anyone heard of Unbound? Books are funded directly by readers. Authors pitch their ideas online and if enough readers are interested and pledge a certain amount of money then the book gets published. That is the basics anyway. 'The Wake' - Paul Kingsnorth was published this way and made it onto the Booker long list this year. I think in the case of 'the Wake' that subscribers paid £35 each.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Sep 2014 17:32:30 BDT
Ethereal says:
But will you get the same enjoyment from writing it? Does getting a publisher and plenty of readers outweigh doing your own thing and being different? I think trying to be different for its own sake isn't a good enough reason and rarely works, but if it's what the book demands that's ... different!

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Sep 2014 16:34:56 BDT
I agree. There should be some kind of 'little press' book. But unless you're being amazingly experimental and doing something, say, like Dan Holloway's book that's written in numbers you actually have to toe the line. It's just life that the bigger something gets the less commercially adventurous they are prepared to be. Take BookBub. They're a big hitter indie publicity e-mail but it's beginning to be quite clear to me, having received their e-mail for some time now, that to cover costs they actually apply the same win-win criteria to pick stuff as the publishers. So if your book is a bit out there, or edgy, or combines too many genres, it's unlikely they'll pick it for promotion. I don't really know what the answer is. I wish I did. But it's a big challenge to get your work seen.

Basically, what I'm going to do now is find a publisher who is willing to tell me why my work is not commercial and then write the next one by numbers, ticking all the commercialism boxes one by one. So far I've approached this for me. So I've written books I wanted to read. However, there are not as many people like me out there as I thought. 'I've never read another book like this' and such in reviews (meant in a good way) does not attract normal humans the way it attracts me. I have learned my lesson.

Maybe that's what the other self published folk are doing too. I don't know. But I'm definitely going to try and make my next book more mainstream - that's if I can work out what mainstream is.



Posted on 13 Sep 2014 12:14:22 BDT
Ethereal says:
I think SP should be for writers whose book doesn't fit with traditional lists rather than simply those who can't get accepted because their work isn't good enough. But who dictates what people want to read, publishers or readers? I'm sure if you ask them people will say they want to read quality stuff that's innovative but it's not being provided by publishers or SP for the most part.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Sep 2014 08:17:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 13 Sep 2014 08:18:43 BDT
That's exactly why I self published. I love what you say about publishers, I think it sums up how it has been although I think that is changing now. Lots of smaller more nimble ones appearing and lots of talent made redundant in the attrition of acquisition among the big three, or four or however many it is setting up new houses.

Sadly what I proved by self publishing my book, was that the publishers are right. It's a multi genre mash up and while it is nearly always well received I can't say it exactly sells. Indeed I pretty much have to force people to read the first one at gunpoint.

I'm also intrigued about what you say re type casting. I read an interesting article about a painter who is huge these days but was forced to do design rather than fine art at uni because she paints figures. She did prove them wrong. I hope you have with your work, too, or that you or succeed in doing so shortly.



In reply to an earlier post on 12 Sep 2014 15:10:49 BDT
Freelancer says:
I think that stories are too similar these days because publishers only want the same 'sale-a-minute, burn a day later' books. I miss new voices. Self-publishers, though imperfect, give readers a chance to experience something new. What does it really cost to read a few typos? Remember most of these people aren't just shoving stuff out their with no thought or care. Some of them have tried every other route and don't fit in to a publisher's mould so self-publish so the voice can be heard. Lots of invisible politics going on, too easy to disregard (a little fired up because I went through the same kind of type casting at uni. In case you're wondering, Goldsmiths, not as inclusive as you'd think).

Posted on 9 Sep 2014 10:01:01 BDT
Tui Allen says:
I'm trying to read as many kiwi books as poss, TP or SP, as long as they're kiwi, for my new Kiwireads web site, (still embryonic.) But I still break that rule sometimes and read foreign stuff.
Reading this fantasy The Sovereign Hand by a kiwi author right now.

He's a young first time author and did not SP his first book, which is pretty darned cool I think in this era, in this country, where all the big publishers are either dead or sleeping. He's with one of the nippy new publishers we have springing up in the wake of the departing behemoths.
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