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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Self publishing hurting the reader?

As I excitedly opened my newest Kindle purchase I snuggled down for a good read. I don't get much time to read these days between managing an Authors twitter account that I don't understand, facebook pages x5, a blog, google +  account and trying to learn and write books at the same time. So when I do, I want to delve in and be submerged by well written stories that have words that transport me to that time, that place and turn me into that character. Not too much to ask surely?? 

I was sorely disappointed, what I thought was a contemporary romance novel, turned out to be a 10 page short story that had likely been written by a primary school student. It wasn't edited, it was not descriptive, it had no depth and the ending was rushed and predictable. I have 6 children, if i want to read about what happened on the weekend I have a vast array of school books at my disposal. What was this book that I just bought (yes bought!!! payed good money for) doing in with the novels when it was 10 pages long?

As a new writer, living in Adelaide (lets face it opportunity is hardly knocking down my door) I am thankful for amazon/ Kindle self publishing or it would be highly unlikely I would get the opportunity to be a published author. I initially thought it was a fantastic idea and I dived in, clothes and all. I didn't stop to think about the other side of the coin, that is the reader. Maybe the reason it is so difficult to get published using traditional methods is because not everyone that likes to write has what it takes to be a writer. Just like every little boy that likes to play football will not play for the AFL. It doesn't mean he should stop playing locally but it also doesn't mean he has the right to run out onto the field at the MCG. 

As a reader I have always bought the real life paper version of books so had mostly shopped at book stores. The books I found were therefor all done through a publisher like Penguin Books and not self published. The quality of most of these book is very high. They look good, they are polished and they have had professionals mull over them for months before they hit the stores. My experience in the month I have been using Kindle has been bitterly disappointing. So many of the books I have bought are obviously written by novices and I have wasted too much money and WAAAYY too much time on books that should not see the light of day. I have learnt to always order the free sample before actually paying for the book. This usually gives a good indication of the Authors style.

So here I am, torn  once again, from an author prospective I love that so many people with talent would otherwise go unrecognised and through self publishing have had the opportunity to get their name out there and have their stories read. However as a reader, I feel a little irked that I have to swim through a sea of rubbish to get to the island of gems.

I would love to know your experiences as readers, Have you had difficulty finding decent books? Do you ever give indie Authors a go or do you stick to the big, well known names? Leave me a comment and fill me in because as I said I'm new to this technology thing :)

26 comments:

  1. I too have been disappointed with some self published books....makes me want to make sure I do a better job with my writing!!! And hopefully publish some day!

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    1. I absolutely know how you feel. I can almost pick a self published piece of work from 100 paces. Makes me overly paranoid that I will be a huge disappoint to someone one day as well.. Maybe I should consider offering a money back guarantee haha. It's sad though because there are a lot of great writers out there, its just the ability to find them seems to be getting harder.

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  2. I do buy some self-published e-books to try to be supportive, but I'm not anxious to read them because of the very issues you write about here. I know there's supposed to be some good stuff out there, but my reading time is limited, and I hate to take a chance.

    Don't give up on your Kindle, though. Traditionally published books usually have e-book editions simultaneously published with the print versions. Occasionally something goes on sale and can be picked up cheaply. Sometimes one of an author's older books will be offered at a good price for the e-book so you can try h/her out. I've discovered new authors that way.

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  3. Thank you Gail, I will indeed keep plodding along and hope someone discovers me by accident and stays with me. My experience is exactly as you said though.. I buy them to be supportive but the thought of actually reading them feels a little like a chore. I have recently joined a few really great reading books though and I'm sure I will find some wonderful self published authors there :)

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  4. (Full disclosure: Self-pubbed author here.)

    I do agree that there's a lot of garbage out there. Many times, just looking at the reviews will help. When a book has a slew of 2 starred reviews saying that the editing was terrible, that probably lets you know that it's not worth your time. Also with the short story - Amazon should have listed the page count, and the author should have ensured that they placed their book in the right genre. Sorry to hear you got duped, I know that can be a frustrating feeling.

    For me, I find my books through word of mouth from authors and friends that I trust. I tend to befriend authors whose work I adored, and try to ensure that I help promote them if I really enjoyed their book.

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    1. That's really great advise. It's all a learning curve for me and I think I just went crazy, purchasing books I liked the look of. Never again (Ok well probably, Im a sucker for a nice cover haha). I especially like your befriending the author bit. Thats good for you and them. Thanks for your advise.

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  5. I self-pub'd my first three books, then got picked up by Booktrope. Here's the thing: I paid for a top editor, top graphics, proofreaders, etc. I treat my book creation as a business.

    Sadly, not all self-pub'd writers do. Their goals are to create a piece of whatever, upload it, and call it a book. Their standards are low. And hey, that's their right. But my standards are high because this, this book writing, marketing, and selling, is my business. I'm creating a reputation as an author.

    My third book, Broken Pieces, has won nine awards, has received multiple 5-star reviews from top Amazon reviewers and top sites. I don't say this to brag or troll your site to get readers to buy my book (I promise): I say this because not all self-pub'd authors are shit. We take what we do very seriously, treat our career as a career, and sell more books because of it.

    As I write my fourth and fifth books for Booktrope, I'm thrilled to have the power of a house behind me. It's worth nothing that they are a hybrid publisher -- I make more per book because there's no agent middleman, yet they still required a submissions team to approve my work. I'm still involved in choosing my covers, my editors, my book manager.

    Many options for authors now, and for that, I'm grateful. Not all SP books are awful, and not all traditional books are awesome. I agree, it's a risk, but isn't that what makes life interesting? I'd love your thoughts! And thank you for allowing me to comment.

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    1. Hi there, Well I would hope to agree with you, If I don't I am all but admitting my novel is going to be sub-standard haha. Maybe it is but I don't think so. I do believe there are some people that put there all in to it and that dedicate their time and take their time to produce some real high quality books.

      As a new Author Im grateful for that or I wouldn't be on the adventure that I am. As a reader, the jury is still out. I have read a couple of books recently that were fabulous. I even read a great book through Beta readers. Her work was really entertaining but I gave harsh feedback so that she would go back and tighten the story and polish it. It really needed editing but the actual story and some of the techniques she used were brilliant. I wanted her to make it as sharp as possible because it deserves to succeed.

      Oh and thanks for commenting and I have no issues with people mentioning their books on my page. Self promotion is so difficult and if someone sees your comment and buys your books, that's great. It means I helped someone else in a tiny way. Feel free to throw a link up here also if you like :)

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  6. Well-said, Rachel. It's my belief that good indie authors will distinguish themselves. They're out there breaking their backs on professional writing, professional editing, professional book covers, and professional marketing. I have no doubt that their hard work will reward them.

    On the other hand, you have the vast majority of indie authors who aren't willing to put that kind of work into their books and think that sales and reader loyalty come by magic.

    It's sad that readers have to sort through such an overwhelming selection--most of which isn't worth their time, as Susan notes. But honestly, I've read plenty of traditionally published books that leave me amazed how they saw the light of day. In those instances, traditional publishing houses have failed in their role as gate keepers.

    I don't think the difference is between indie published versus trad published. I think the difference is in the dedication of individual authors to producing a great product.

    However a book was published, I almost always download a sample and read the reviews. By that method, it's been a long while since I read a bad book. If it's a good book, I review it and tweet it to help other readers find good titles. I think finding a good book and a good author has become a community activity.

    So find a club. Read reviews. Take recommendations from your friends. Then turn around and share the love. Support great authors--however they're published.

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    1. That sounds like sound advise. I have recently started ordering the free sample and it is a much better way to go. This is another thing I love about Self publishing, it really is a community. I have found some wonderful people that helped me out in my first few weeks and taught me the ropes with personal chats or links to articles. I feel like im really part of something bigger and I love it. I will do what I can to help others out and I'm finding this is the best way to find new books, new Authors and new friends in the process. So I agree with your outlook 100% :)

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  7. Well said Rachel! Personally I have to point out the sad fact that there is a lot of garbage in the traditional published world too. Hate to say it, but I've come across more than my fair share of badly edited or plotted stories put out by some of the big name publishing houses and I pay a LOT more for those books than I do the ones I get from indie authors.

    I suppose that's why book bloggers (honest ones who have a good rep) are so important to the new world of publishing. Think about it... before you would just walk into a book store and based on a cover or blurb buy a book never knowing if you'd like it enough to finish it OR you'd have a friend recommend a book and you'd read that.

    Book bloggers are your reader friends of the new e-book age. There are so many of them out there that you'll never have to worry they've run out of good titles to suggest! This is why it's SOOOOO important (in my opinion) for authors to cultivate good relationships with their potential readers and bloggers as they go into the publishing world on their own.

    Great blog, btw! Glad I found you. :D

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    1. Thank you :) that is much appreciated for a newbie like myself. You have a great point about the book blogger. I have joined a relatively new group on facebook that reviews books but I haven't seen any actual book bloggers in my travels. Are you a book blogger or can you recommend a great one? I would love to follow them (or you).Don't be shy to throw your link up here if you are. I'm happy to share the love over here at my little blog.. Thanks again for your advice :)

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    2. Oh hi, I just followed your name link (told you I'm new to this haha) Yes I read your blog earlier today :)

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  8. I just came across your blog through Facebook. Love your background (mine is the same!). I am a new SP author, and I would like to think there are some good SP authors out there who care about what they are doing. I did recently read 2 novels and a short story by SP authors. All 3 were good stories, but the 2 novels I could easily tell were written without any solid knowledge of grammar and punctuation. I taught it for 13 years, so I know what I'm talking about. A lot of these SP authors simply don't care about the quality. I told one of the authors her story was good but she needs a Gregg Reference Manual, and I told her about the errors. She said she took no offense, but she has yet to review my book even though she said she would, so I think she was offended.

    The other author I offered to mentor her by email. I have not heard back from her and she is now off Facebook (I hope I didn't scare her away!!). Her story was also very good, but her grammar was just so wrong (such as not knowing the difference between then and than).

    I think as readers, I would recommend doing a little homework if you are trying out an SP author. Read the reviews, note the length of the book, see if they have a blog, check them out on Facebook, wait until they run a special for a freebie or 99 cent sale. It doesn't mean you still won't run into the nasties, but it might save you some pennies and some wasted time! I don't know if any of your readers or you would like my novel, A Life Unplanned, (my debut), but I will guarantee the grammar and punctuation are spot on, LOL! Hope your novel will be a smashing success. Mine has not smashed yet, but hoping once I get the trilogy done, smashing will begin!! :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Patty. I will be sure to stop and check out your blog. It's sad that the other writers didn't review your book as promised. I believe we all need to stick together and support each other. What is your books about? What genre is it? I have am just starting up a youtube channel. This is a very new project. You are the first to hear about it. I will read an authors book, review it on youtube AND write a review for amazon, goodreads and facebook. Under the condition the Author subscribes to my channel,likes my facebook page and subscribes to my blog. I think that's a fair trade. I'm hoping that people will like the idea and get on board. What do you think? Sound ok?

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  9. Well, I will say I have come cross some authors who seem to be only out for themselves, but I should also say I have meant some great people too. I ran into that in my previous profession too. You can't get away from that I guess. I love the youtube idea, too! I definitely don't feel what you are asking in return is unreasonable either. People should be willing to do that without asking, but in any event, I say give it a try! :)

    My book is about the life of my mom. I fictionalized the characters to protect family privacy, although everyone had fun trying to figure out who was who. She had a secret she took with her to her grave that we found out about from my dad, and her death is also a mystery. Her life was pretty remarkable, and I felt it would make a great story. After I completed it, I decided to make it a trilogy, so the second story is about her parents and grandparents (her parents were married almost 60 years) and the third will be about me and my husband. We started out in Ohio, moved to Idaho and now in Las Vegas, so I think our 37-year marriage will make a good story too. Needless to say, my family and friends are really looking forward to that one, LOL!

    Who knows, those authors may come through eventually and do reviews for me, but I know for myself, if I promise a review and know I'm going to be delayed, I let them know that so they are not thinking I won't do it. Good communication is a must in novels, but I feel also a must in our community. Maybe I'm too old-fashioned! Anyway, thanks for your reply, and I'll be looking forward to your channel!

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    1. Thank you, and oh my gosh your book sounds fascinating.. I need to read it haha.. Don't forget to post the link on here or my facebook page when you have published it. Share the love haha.. and as I said if you need a review I would be happy to do it :)

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  10. Thanks for allowing me to post the link! I am hoping to do a special around December 14 for a free copy, so if you are willing to review it, wait until then. Amazon sometimes tells me I'm not eligible, something about the timing, but if I read everything right, I should be able to do that then. In the meantime, though, the link is http://www.amazon.com/Life-Unplanned-Patty-Seitz-ebook/dp/B00KB3ZSLC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416852043&sr=1-1&keywords=a+life+unplanned I hope to have the 2nd novel out by Christmas. I need to spend less time on Facebook so I can get it done, LOL! Thanks again!!

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    1. haha I know that feeling.. it's all about social media at the moment. No time for actually writing. I will be sure to do that mid December. You may have to give me a facebook reminder :0)

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  11. I'd never buy a book cold on Kindle. I get most of my recommendations through related blogs or podcasts. If I was looking for a new book, I'd research the best sellers for that category and read all the reviews before I purchased. I think there is plenty of info for the reader to look at before they make a purchase. From the writers perspective, you need to have a strategy for all these buying influencers in your expect to sell on Kindle.

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    1. That is exactly true, It is something to consider. I would never want to buy just best sellers but It is important for me to research my choices a little more before jumping in. :)

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  12. Sometimes I enjoy reading really poorly written books just for laughs and for an example of exactly what not to do. But I think that the good authors will find their way to the top. Maybe talk to other people about self published books that they enjoyed.

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    1. Haha thats one way to look at it hannah.. I hope you are right about good authors getting to the top and I hope I am one of those.. I guess time will tell.

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  13. I always check out the number of print pages and download the sample before purchasing a book. I read heaps of Indie books. I don't think they are any more of a purchase risk than traditionally published books. Many Indie authors are clearly investing the time and money into making a superior product. There is plenty of rubbish in the traditional market too.
    Samples are definitely the way to go, especially when trying a new author. I don't stick to the best sellers list, because I love discovering new gems in the making.
    :)

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    1. I agree J.M Adele. I have lived and learnt now.. I guess I still miss being able to pick up a book and flick through. I am one of those people that always reads 5 pages of the front then the last 20 or so pages and then I go back to the beginning and relax haha.. its harder with ebooks.. i have to scroll through 500 pages to read the back. I rarely stick to the best seller list as well

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