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Self-published books: pain or gain?

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In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 17:06:43 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 May 2012 17:07:26 BDT
I agree, but only to a certain extent. You can see how the author writes and if the voice appeals, also if there are plenty of off-putting errors or formatting issues.

But, again, you won't know if the story will be be conclusive and well developed. Writing the beginning is often easy, the ideas pour, but then, what to do between the beginning (30%) and the ending?

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 18:59:25 BDT
Oracle says:
The fact is that there are a lot of books and authors out there and very very few books are so good/marketable that they're unconditionally accepted by agents/publishers. An author's story may be good, but so are other authors' stories. All being equal plot-wise, no publisher/agent is going to choose a badly spelled novel over a well-finished one. It's just too much unnecessary work. Plus, an author who doesn't care about their spelling/grammar isn't showing much pride in their work. Submitting a MS full of errors is like turning up to a job interview wearing dirty jeans.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:08:22 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 May 2012 19:20:24 BDT
LoveBooks says:
You can't know, but then you still won't know this information if it's a trad published novel. I think reading reviews also helps - reviews that sound genuine. Also, I suggested reading interviews featuring that author because they'd give more insight into their work. Tbh, I can be very disappointed with a traditionally published novel, too. Fact is, it's not only about signing on a "good" author any more. "Marketable" is also a very subjective term - publishers or agents just won't take any risks so in the process we see a lot of formulaic plots running around. Often it's like reading the same book over and over. I think there are pros and cons to both, yet, bunching everyone together under one umbrella (self-pub vs. trad pub) won't do much good. For me it's good books vs. bad books. With any new author it's always a crap shoot, can't deny that. But it's like going to a restaurant. If you order a dish and don't like it, you don't say, "I'll never go to a restaurant again!" Rather, you may say, "Next time I'll go to that other place," or even, "I may give this one more try but if it's bad again that's it." It's all about the book and also the author. I recently read some awesome self-published work, and now reading a book by a NYT bestselling author. I enjoyed all these books.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:13:55 BDT
LoveBooks says:
Of course I agree with you on the MS full of errors, Oracle. Not so much on the fact that agents and publishers take on only good and marketable books, or even that if there's a good book out there, it's going to be contracted. On the one hand, I've seen too many great authors being dropped by publishers because they're concerned with pumping their handful of star authors. I see these authors having to publish their backlists on their own, and it's not always by choice. It's a tough business. Taste is also subjective. On the other hand, some self-published authors need to step up and hire a GOOD editor. Enough said...

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:22:17 BDT
Which is basically what I said earlier regarding agents. ;-)

I agree with you. But it takes a while to understand. You see, when I started out with writing I honestly thought that an editor's job is to look for good stories and fix the grammar/spelling. How wrong I was. Unless you have an outstanding story, original and bang on the right time, you'll have no chance.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:27:11 BDT
LoveBooks says:
Totally agree, Stella. And there's room for stories that are good but not "bang on the right time." I believe that. Hence, self-publishing.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:28:35 BDT
I Readalot says:
But then publishing is a business, no matter how great a writer is if their books don't sell then the publisher can't afford to keep them on. It is the star authors who create the profit that enable the publishers to take risks on unknowns, some work out, some don't. It is a tough business for authors through to booksellers and with so many new authors being published every year only the lucky few are going to make it.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:29:02 BDT
I disagree. If you buy a traditionally published book, you may not like it, a case of 'not my cuppa', but you can be assured it's readable throughout, developed and edited to a certain standard, meaning, everything slots together, the characters are acting 'logically'. etc. I read quite a few self-published book where that wasn't the case, or worse, the book wasn't even a whole book, just part of a story and you have to buy to read the rest.
I also don't think that traditionally published books are 'generic'. They may be following a certain formula, which, as successful self-published books show, sell. Of course it's about making money, publishing is a business.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:30:35 BDT
Yes, there are. We were talking about agents back then, when I made that comment. :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:33:58 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 May 2012 19:37:20 BDT
Exactly. I would do nothing else, were I a publisher. They do take on a few new authors who are brilliant writers, but a publishing business is carried by the bestsellers, so there publishers have to decide: the crap that sells or the beautiful prose that might get a prize? Some are in the lucky position to be able to afford both, but most aren't anymore. In between those two extremes are the books that sell well enough to keep the business afloat or at least don't make a loss.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:35:09 BDT
LoveBooks says:
I agree about self-publishing. Sadly, thinking back on books I edited, what you say is true. But yes, book publishing is a business - and although there are trad published authors that I love, I can sometimes see that lack of risk in the offerings. And no, I have to say that the characters are not always likeable or act logically just because the book is traditionally published. I still think there's a lot of subjectivity involved. I didn't say they're all generic - but there are certain imprints depending on what you like to read where that comes across. That said, I've seen some enormous messes in certain self-published works. What I meant is that generalizations never help. I get the book usually on the strength of the blurb and the sample. If it grabs me, I get it - and I rarely stop to see who published it.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:36:13 BDT
LoveBooks says:
Well said, Stella.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:41:39 BDT
I Readalot says:
I wouldn't class trad published books as generic either, fair enough the best seller list is generally full of formulaic fiction but there are a lot of novels out there that break and bend rules, twist conventions and generally experiment with the form. Unfortunately they don't sell in vast quantities and many people don't get to hear about them. That's one of the reasons the discussions here are useful as contributors can learn about and recommend lesser known novels and authors.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:43:39 BDT
Well, if you are a fellow editor, you know how your nails can curl on many occasions. :-) I just wish that authors would think their story line through and work harder to make it enjoyable for readers. That they learn the basics and use what they've learned, that they have a firm grasp on point of view and dialogue attributes, on plot- and character-development and how to tie up loose ends. That's my main quibble. Is that really too much to ask?

Maybe I expect too much. I don't just want a story teller, I want this story teller to speak clearly, so I can understand and lose myself in the events.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:48:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 May 2012 19:49:32 BDT
By the way, the only book I recall where I really (still) want to slap the editor is One Day. That book must have been edited by at least two different editors. And it was one of the books I couldn't read and gave up. Totally unlikable characters, slow paced and sort of unrealistic how Emma (I think it was her name) behaved.

I do understand why they took the book on, though, it was a fun idea, albeit its love story formula. (From what I've heard, didn't get over page 50.)

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:51:14 BDT
LoveBooks says:
I agree I Readalot - that's true. I was talking only of mass market...but even in commercial fiction one finds many beautiful diamonds. I'm an avid reader and love being introduced to new authors.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 19:54:43 BDT
LoveBooks says:
Yep! Which is why I asked an established/trad published author to mentor me on my latest WIP. After writing 7 drafts of it, I started asking around and this gracious author consented. I'm over the moon. Please I'm not trying to promote here - just showing that I agree with you that writing can sometimes be painful. You can either dish out books fast, no matter the quality, or you can try to get it right first. I can already tell that my second work will take less time - it's all about getting in the hard labor in the beginning. That's all. It's not easy, but it's necessary. So yes, can't argue here.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 20:00:11 BDT
LoveBooks says:
I do love romance novels, and there are many well written ones. A beautiful romantic suspense book I recently read is The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner. Just love her style. Beautiful narrative voice, strong and realistic characters. Love when a book makes me feel this satisfied.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 20:05:26 BDT
Then you're a fast learner. So am I. The writing gets better, but takes longer, in my experience. Used to write 2.5 to 3k an evening. Nowadays, I'm at about 500 to 100, 1500 when I'm really lucky. But I don't rewrite much, send it to beta readers and take their comments into consideration.

Like you, I better produce quality, not quantity. Not unless I can do both together. :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 20:06:28 BDT
LoveBooks says:
I'm glad to hear that, Stella. I like you already :D

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 20:19:47 BDT
Don't get ahead of yourself. haha.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 20:24:44 BDT
LoveBooks says:
LOL :)

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 20:26:03 BDT
By the way, one of my MC's in my current WIP is called Natalie.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 20:55:43 BDT
Oracle says:
I didn't mean that publishers take on only good or marketable books, simply that they only take on books that they THINK are good or marketable. They're not infallible of course, but at the same time no publisher is going to take on a book that they don't believe is either good or marketable. Unless it's written by a friend of the MD or something...

In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2012 21:09:16 BDT
Oh to be a friend of the MD or something...

I actually don't believe that this will help. If the MD is any smart he will not publish a book of a friend unless it's really worth its money they'll invest.
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  418
Total posts:  10000
Initial post:  17 May 2012
Latest post:  28 Dec 2014

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