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Self-published books: pain or gain?


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Initial post: 17 May 2012 10:15:09 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Nov 2012 10:13:06 GMT
***PLEASE READ THE FIRST POST BEFORE DIVING IN. SELF-PROMOTION AT OWN PERIL!***

I know there's probably a big divide between the lovers and haters. Even I am torn, somehow. There certainly are stories with lots of potential, but in need of a structural edit, let alone a proofreader. But then there are books leaving you puzzled, gobsmacked even and not in a good way.
Personally, I delete books in a ratio of ten for every book I read complete before I get to 50%.

My reasons: badly developed characters/story, when it's so far off the wall that I can't suspend my disbelief anymore. Another reason are some personal pet hates like wrongly used dialogue attributes, apostrophes, or an overuse of brackets. Typos, missing words, etc., if they're not littering the book, I can overlook.

What is your take on it? Do you love them, have you given up on them? What are your reasons?

Posted on 17 May 2012 11:38:42 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 May 2012 11:52:50 BDT
Ethereal says:
I'd take more notice of self-published ebooks if the author took the trouble and, yes I realise, expense to also put them out in print. That suggests to me they take professional pride in their work and are not simply putting it out there as quickly and cheaply as possible for their own egos or to make a fast buck. If it's in paperback too it's more likely to have been edited, proofread etc (if only because it can't then be corrected).
That's not just because I don't yet have a kindle because when I do, the same principle will apply. It's not foolproof, of course, but then neither are trad published books!
Plus, if I read an ebook I enjoy so much I'll want to reread it I intend to buy the paperback version as well to put on my shelves.
Edit: no offence intended, I just checked if yours are in print or not!

Posted on 17 May 2012 14:26:32 BDT
Sou'Wester says:
I've no doubt that there are some superb self-published books out there; every bit as good as or possibly better than the best of traditionally published work. Unfortunately, because it has become so easy to self-publish, the market has been swamped by a great mass of really mediocre material, some of it of unbelievably dreadful quality and this - at the moment - is dragging down the reputation of SP work in general. One has only to trawl through the "Meet Our Authors" forum to encounter any number of people who, though they've obviously put a lot of work into their books, are simply not up to the task of writing a decent book (many can't even write a decent post on the forum!)
Consequently I think a lot of readers are extremely wary of venturing into the SP market because the general expectation is that this equates to inferior material.

Posted on 17 May 2012 16:52:02 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 May 2012 19:10:24 BDT
Ethereal, that's an interesting point regarding the print editions. Though I'm not really sure as to why people who don't want to put their books in print should be called less professional. I'm rather sure that there are plenty of equally badly edited/proofed paperbacks available. It's not really a massive expense, to be honest. Although it depends on with whom you're going. Some outlets offer self-publishing at low cost. My experience with them was mediocre (the short stories).
And no, my novels are not in print yet. None taken :-) They don't sell, so why invest over 100 into a book that doesn't sell? It's a loss. I want to have them in print, but my rule of thumb is: only if e-book sales rectify the investment. I might change this rule at some point, just to try a different route, but for now it applies.

@Sou'Wester: I spoke to my friend who's mainly a reader and her comment was this: You know what? If I buy a self-published book and it's absolute rubbish, full of mistake and with a story that is unbelievable, then that's for me. I would not go anywhere near a self-published book again. Even I found that harsh, but I could imagine many readers tried a few and lost interest.

Posted on 17 May 2012 20:33:16 BDT
Booktigger says:
I don't see why a book being printed as well gives a book more credibility - i am reading a well known traditional author that has what i think is a really bad error - one of the characters gender changes on the same page! I do what i can to encourage indies, i will review as much as i can and am happy to help with proofing. Yes, there are some that really shouldn't have been published, but there are also some fantastic books, and could be picked up by a publisher

Posted on 17 May 2012 23:18:30 BDT
Cathy says:
Since I bought my Kindle in January I have downloaded 42 self published ebooks many of them for free. So far 11 are in my rubbish folder and all the rest are as good as many of the print books I have borrowed from the public library over the years. With the opportunity to read a generous sample prior to purchase there is no reason to pay for any book that does not have at least a reasonable standard. With so many good ebooks being made available for free I can only see this as "gain".

Posted on 18 May 2012 03:39:05 BDT
My earlier books were all published in paperback first - Kindle hadn't made it across the Pond yet, so that seemed the most logical way to go. I published .pdf editions soon afterwards, which worked on the e-readers available here at the time.

Nowadays I find it more practical to produce the Kindle version first, which is the simplest format, and then do the paperback and .pdf once I've added in the page numbers and things.

But sadly, whichever way round you do these things, somebody won't like it! Personally, I self-publish because I'm too ancient to start on the publishers' roundabout. This way I can get my books out there now, not when I've been dead for a couple of hundred years. But I assure you, everything is proof-read to within an inch of its life.

Posted on 18 May 2012 08:56:06 BDT
Ethereal says:
I've seen a number of kindle authors respond to errors pointed out by readers, mostly thanking them for giving them the chance to make corrections then put the ebooks out again. This practice is using readers as unpaid proofreaders and they couldn't do this with paperbacks.
It also seems to me that kindle authors are missing a readership by not going into print as well, and I'm not sure about the publishing side but I think print-on-demand is cost-effective.
Kindles haven't yet taken over the book world but paper would require authors to be more secure their work is up to scratch!

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2012 10:11:44 BDT
Do you read self-published books, too?

I know a lot of self-published authors who have their difficulties to stick with a book. One of them even said she'd never finished any self-published book due to the lack of quality. I always fought the corner of self-publishing, and I still do, but the lack of quality control drives me mad. The sample is a good thing, but more than once I was let down after a while, when the plot went as flat as a stamp. Some of the authors had a really good and gripping beginning and a great voice. Often, I think they had an editor for the opening to hook an agent, but that agent probably rejected after that, too.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2012 10:17:58 BDT
I agree with losing a readership. You always run into people who ask, where they can buy the book and are disappointed when it's not available in paperback. Print on demand is cost effective if you use Lulu or Createspace, which, to me was a bad quality.

Re the readers pointing out errors: yes, it's often the practice. I tapped into that, too, as my books were error riddled, don't want to go into detail again, it was the a miscommunication between my friends and I who proofed the book. If authors sort it out, wonderful. I have given up pointing out errors to the authors because I got an answer, more than once, telling me the reader probably won't notice. Left a little speechless to be honest.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2012 10:21:30 BDT
Ethereal says:
So am I!
I don't mind giving constructive feedback which I hope will be useful both to author and other readers but wouldn't be used as an unpaid editor.

Well, I seem to have stirred up a debate on the MOA forum so am now off to get some work done!

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2012 10:37:16 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 May 2012 10:37:50 BDT
I would hurry and correct that error or typo the minute someone points it out to me. But then, I've learned my lesson, don't rush to publish my books anymore, rather make sure to publish a clean version.

I saw that debate and it's good. It's on the KPD thread, right? All good, that's what the thread is for. It's a discussion forum at the end of the day.

Posted on 18 May 2012 17:21:56 BDT
Hi Stella,

You raise a decent point about self-published books. I think one of the main probems is that there is no editiorial control for the medium. Amazon, for example, could hardly make decisions about quality when the current rate for new books on kindle is about 30,000 per month (although some of those books were pre-published on paper). I know exactly what you mean about 'off the wall' plots et cetera, once the writer blows it regarding belief in the story it's very hard to continue reading. It's the same with films in my opinion; I've walked out of a few.

Even in print though, there are penty of disappointments. I've read a lot of Chuck Palahniuk's books and generally they're terrific, but his latest novel 'Damned' isn't a patch on 'Fight Cub' or 'Tell-All'. I've certainly read printed novels which contain all of the faults you've stated, Irvine Welsh, for example, doesn't use any punctuation whatsoever except for full-stops.

I suppose that there's a lot more chance of finding an ameteurish novel on Kindle, if for no other reason than the huge numbers involved in the catalogue, but there is the ocassional gem, and let's face it, if gems weren't rare they wouldn't have any value.

Good thread though; I think all the responses have made genuine points.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2012 18:07:09 BDT
Hi, Richard.

Nicely put about the gems. ;-)

If a book is purposefully without punctuation, meaning experimental, that's okay; you can easily find the patterns, but if the punctuation in dialogue or apostrophes are all over the place, it suggests the author doesn't know any better or worse, doesn't care. I'm not good with punctuation either, commas aren't my friends yet; I love the semi-colon, but struggle to get it right, but dialogue? It's not rocket science.

But mostly it's story, repetition and dull characters that make it difficult to read on. If the story grabs me, I can even overlook the other little errors. Gee, I don't want to know how it is for a grammar nazi to read such books.

Posted on 18 May 2012 18:24:07 BDT
Blilith says:
I will proof read any self published books, no payment required. I also review, again for for free.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2012 18:29:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 May 2012 18:31:48 BDT
You are a superstar. :-)

And without meaning to offend you: do you have a good grasp on what proof reading is? I don't know you, so forgive my question. I had people correcting my apostrophe in 'it's hers' to 'it's her's'. Fortunately, I know my apostrophes. Dialogue attributes are one of the biggest problems in self-published books, the odd typo not.

Posted on 18 May 2012 18:49:15 BDT
Tom_Conrad says:
I'm a self-published author. I totally understand people's reluctance to take a chance on self-pub work, but I'd just like to say some of us put out heart, soul and so much effort into our books. Mine is by no means perfect, but I've taken time to address many of the concerns you raise. Sticklers may find a typo/mistake. (Hopefully not, because I have gone over it so many times). But please don't tar us all with the same brush, some self-pub books may surprise you. And mine is currently FREE because I accept people don't want to pay and take a chance.

Anyway, just the view of a humble self-pub author for you.

Take care and all the best!

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2012 19:19:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 May 2012 19:20:03 BDT
And I ask again. Do you read self-published books, Tom?

I'm sure there are super great books -- even better than traditionally published books -- on the market, but to find them is hard. I delete about nine books for a ridiculous storyline, to read one book that I actually make it through. None has impressed me yet. Maybe I'm just too picky, don't know.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2012 04:40:58 BDT
I do try to support my fellow self-publishers. I download quite a few samples and read them (eventually), but I don't buy the whole thing unless it interests me, I'm afraid. Time is not limitless! Sometimes the book is so haphazard that it puts me right off, in which case - on with the next.

Having said that, I am not perfect! But if I do spot a typo once the book is out there, I correct as many editions as I have, because I wouldn't sleep at night if I thought people would trip over the errors.

I have downloaded samples of traditionally published books and found them no better read or edited, by the way, so they get just the same treatment. Anyone can make a mistake - we're all human - but in some cases the most cursory of read-throughs ought to point them out for correction.

Posted on 19 May 2012 08:48:08 BDT
Frederick says:
Thanks for the offer of proofreading. Is "proofreading" one word or two ie: proof reading or proofreading?

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2012 09:49:09 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 May 2012 09:50:00 BDT
Same here. Have deleted more traditionally published books than I ever abandoned in the past. In both cases, traditionally or self-published book, I'm waiting for that one gem that has me glued to the book. I'm now reading a book from an author who has a good grasp on grammar and the story seems to be well thought out, but there are quite a few cliches in it, and I think I can predict what's coming, too. Bit boring, to be honest and I feel on the verge to delete that book, too at only 32% in.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2012 14:40:01 BDT
Blilith,
If I can figure out how to 'gift' you my novel would you read it? I could use some feedback whether it be good or bad.

Posted on 19 May 2012 20:26:50 BDT
Janet says:
I self publish, and I read indie authors too-there are many many good novels out there. It takes me a year to produce one of my novels, and I do it to the very best of my ability, investing not only a lot of time but also cash into making something of quality. Yes, there are lesser works out there but I have to say, the lesser works are not always those of the indie authors.

Posted on 19 May 2012 20:39:49 BDT
Last edited by the author on 28 Dec 2012 08:21:25 GMT
"Self-published" is too broad a category to love or hate.

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 or even better than the books you might find on the shelves from the big six. THe current storm of self-pubbers does put more emphasis on READERS actually working to find what they like but, to me, that's a good thing.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 May 2012 12:20:56 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 Jun 2012 11:19:12 BDT
I certainly read traditionally published books I didn't like and made me think how the hell they were published, but I feel it's just a matter of taste, which is subjective. Traditionally published books have a least a comprehensive storyline, and a minimum on typos. You don't see dialogue attributes used randomly, and you don't see a plot so off the wall it makes the book just unreadable. And normally the loose ends are tied up.

As I said, I always fought the corner of Indie publishing. Then I started to read them a lot more and deleting so many novels before I even get to 30 or 50% says a lot. Self-publishing is a great way for authors to get their work out there, let the readers decide what's good or not. I am a reader, too and have to say that only a few books have had promise, but some of them I didn't finish or skipped to finish as the second half was just so badly developed, I couldn't bear it anymore. That's my verdict and I'm asking other readers to share their opinion. Maybe I just read the wrong books.
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  409
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Initial post:  17 May 2012
Latest post:  21 days ago

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