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Author Topic: What do you think of Self-Published books?  (Read 6352 times)

Offline G_R_Matthews

What do you think of Self-Published books?
« on: October 10, 2015, 02:41:01 PM »
Maybe you've read Marc's articles, or followed the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off, or seen the interviews on Fantasy Book Critic, or been visiting Mark Lawrence's blog for updates?

The most recent article, posted today, gathers the views of the other 9 blogs involved in the process. Some of their views will echo many of yours, I suspect, and some may, if not challenge them, at least make you think, "Oh, really?"

http://fantasy-faction.com/2015/has-the-self-published-fantasy-blog-off-changed-your-opinion-of-self-published-books

Anyway, what are your views on Self-Published books? Like them or hate them? Have one you'd recommend?
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Offline Eclipse

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Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2015, 03:01:13 PM »
I've read Shattered Sand and that was pretty good also read Priest and didn't like that one as much, planning to read most of the last ten in  the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off, Mind you I would not have gone near a book with an author name of Plague Jack and the blurb of A Soul For Trouble doesn't interest me but I will give them both a go

So the Self-published fantasy blog off has got me reading Self-published novels for a short while anyway  :) but I probably go back to read Traditional Publishing after.

Also I might read self published work if the author posts on F-F but only if there a regular here.
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Offline Nora

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Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2015, 03:10:54 PM »
The Martian, by Andy Weir, started all free and self published  ;D
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Offline Rostum

Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2015, 03:15:38 PM »
Most I have read have already been picked up by a publisher so are to a higher standard as a rule.
I have neither the time or money to read everything I wish to so don't tend to read self published.
I did read Shattered Sands and will read the second book when Saraband releases it. I cannot say it is the best story, most cohesive or best written book I have read, but it is genuinely interesting and engages the reader so you want to know what happens. I felt he had a lot of ideas bursting to get onto the page but not necessarily in a uniform way.

Offline Davis Ashura

Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2015, 04:44:46 PM »
Just like traditional publishing, it's hit or miss, but there are a lot more misses than hits. But of the self-pubbed books I've read, the one that instantly comes to light as being one of the best books I've read in the past few years, self-pubbed or traditional, is Jonathan Renshaw's Dawn of Wonder. Fabulous writing in every sense of the word. This was on par with Anthony Ryan's Blood Song. For comparison's sake, I would say that Jon is better at the use of the English language while Anthony is better at plotting and narrative flow (Jon's book bogs a bit in a few places but his sheer genius with language use makes up for those deficits). Both are equally adept at creating scenes of violence and grace and characters that live on after the last page.

I would also add Jacob Cooper's Circle of Reign and James Islington's The Shadow of What was Lost to self-pubbed novels that are every bit as good as something traditionally published. James' book is very retro with a Jordanesque feel to it. Beyond the boy from nowhere, there's also a great depth to his world-building. There are mysteries that are hinted upon and a world of ancient lineage that few know about. James sometimes gets caught in the Capitalization conundrum (so do I), and the characters sometimes are a bit primitive, but overall, a great read.

Jacob's book is wow. So different. The world itself seems alive with senescence and growth. That's the first thing because it drives everything else. The story didn't track in the normal fashion I would have expected either. The heart of the story is about a young woman, Reign, and her brother. Again, strong world building with mysteries unfolding and a plot that really takes off in the last 1/3 of the book. It isn't slow until then-in fact, it was just as exciting but in a different way. However, that last third, Jacob throws everything, and I mean everything into a non-stop frenzy of a finish. It just becomes...well, read it and you'll know what I mean.

In the interest of being open, I've interviewed Jacob and Jon for my website, and Jacob has been invaluable in helping me make the jump into the audiobook market (I basically asked Nick Podehl out of the blue to read my books and was fortunate enough to hire him as the narrator for both of them-if anyone has any questions about this just PM me).
The crucible of tragedy teaches us the truth of our dharma: we sacrifice all so others need not. It is a weighty burden.

The Sorrows of Hume

Offline m3mnoch

Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2015, 05:57:59 PM »
a few things.

1 -
"run the gambit" -- ew.  was that your phrase, geoff?  or, i hope, a copy-paste from speculative book review?

2 -
is it just me, or does the main site make your eyes bug out if you read anything on it?  i always have to smash the stylesheet with evernote's clearly plugin to read anything on there.

3 -
personally, i'm a huge fan of self-publishing.

however, it seems it's much more useful the more established your writing career is.  people with large back-catalogs seem to be making crazy money from self-publishing.  ("crazy money", of course, not only means they're doing well financially, but is also a proxy for many, many people reading their work) 

the big question about it really seems to center around "how do you know your writing is any good?"

that's really the crux of most people's snobbery attitude towards self-published work -- "self-published authors write crap".  on one hand, they may not be the audience for said work.  on the other hand, the writing honestly may be pure, unadulterated crap.  as a writer, how can you tell the difference in your own work?  how do you get your writing in front of your target audience AND get honest, constructive, critical feedback?

/shrug

to me at lest, that seems to be the core of it from a writer's perspective.

p.s.  *shakes fist*  damn you, davis.  you just flopped three more titles on my tbr pile.

Offline Matt Knott

Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2015, 06:35:30 PM »
Ideally I wouldn't know if something I picked up was self-published or not.

I don't rely on reviews or suggestions unless it's from friends or I get sense something is cool by osmosis. I pick things up based on the presentation and how interesting a book sounds. That tends to be traditionally published work more often than not because the presentation is a science.

Most self-pub immediately fail the first and fall into a strange place in the second. People come up with the weirdest proper nouns. Weird proper nouns are good, but bad-weird proper nouns are the worst.

You can judge a self-published book by its cover because the author has the final say. If there's a hunky dragon man and lens flare, they thought that was a good representation of what they're offering.

Self-Publishing is a great way for someone to own a project entirely and I wholeheartedly endorse the satisfaction you can get from the process. I have a crazy full time job already, this is something that is totally mine and I can enjoy it.

My biggest problem with the stigma self-pub books have earned is that it leaves very few avenues to getting readers because of sheer volume. The SFBO is great, it's also happened and may not happen again so folks like myself who released afterward miss out on the chance. That's just life. Can't be helped at all, but it is sad that it's one of the only opportunities I'd mark down as being in the top tier for getting great feedback consistently.

That's what I crave more than anything, feedback.

From a reader perspective if something is good I don't care where it comes from. Problem for self-published work is there are few avenues for exposure and that will always be the nature of the beast. Everyone believes their work is good enough to be shown to the world and jockeying for attention thereby packing those avenues so tight few can squeeze through.

Offline Davis Ashura

Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2015, 06:46:20 PM »
p.s.  *shakes fist*  damn you, davis.  you just flopped three more titles on my tbr pile.

My work here is done.  :)
The crucible of tragedy teaches us the truth of our dharma: we sacrifice all so others need not. It is a weighty burden.

The Sorrows of Hume

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Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2015, 08:50:01 PM »
Since I don't have/don't like eBook readers, it's far less probable for me to find self-published books, since I believe most go through the electronic version only. So I think that the only ones I've read are no longer self-pub, even if they started out so.
I admit to being a bit snobbish, and feeling that traditional pub books have that extra layer of control/proofing that self-pubs don't. Then again, I don't mind being proven wrong when the situation presents itself :)

As for this, m3m:
2 -
is it just me, or does the main site make your eyes bug out if you read anything on it?  i always have to smash the stylesheet with evernote's clearly plugin to read anything on there.
No, not just you. I love seeing white font on black, but after reading an article, I'm left with black blobs in my eyes for a while ::)
What's that plugin?
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Offline Yora

Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2015, 08:50:15 PM »
I read books almost entirely on recommendation and popularity.  (Same thing with films and games.) Anything that catches my attention has already prooven itself to have considerable merit, I never really browse through store shelves. So how a book went from manuscript to retail really makes no difference to me. And it's not like publishing companies can protect us from bad books. It's only the end result that counts.
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Offline Hedin

Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2015, 12:55:02 AM »
I read books almost entirely on recommendation and popularity.  (Same thing with films and games.) Anything that catches my attention has already prooven itself to have considerable merit, I never really browse through store shelves. So how a book went from manuscript to retail really makes no difference to me. And it's not like publishing companies can protect us from bad books. It's only the end result that counts.

I'm pretty much the same way, if someone whose opinion I trust recommends a book I will likely read it regardless of the publishing method.  The hard part about self-pub is that there is so much out there that it's hard to dive in by yourself and shift through what's good and bad. 

At one point in time I have thought about doing a self-pub review site as it would be pretty cool to find that one awesome needle in the haystack and then be able to point people towards it.  However that haystack is pretty big and I haven't quite convinced myself to take the plunge.

Offline Lady Ty

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Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2015, 04:00:51 AM »
I am overjoyed that self-publishing has come into being and is thriving and that an initiative like SPFBO was conceived and progressed. Thanks and sincere appreciation to Mark Lawrence and all the bloggers that have given so much time and effort to make it a success.   

SP is an ideal way to encourage aspiring writers to have a go and see if they can write a book, share it around their peers and receive comments, good or bad. The whole point is that they can get their work out to the public without time consuming or expensive middlemen and numbing rejections after long waiting.

I agree that the quality will vary to extremes but that shouldn't be a reason for writers not to try their luck or readers not to look and see what is available.  Kindle gives you a chance in Sample and as has been said elsewhere you can soon tell  if a book will appeal or not. Many writers offer their work free at the start or with sample chapters. Online publicity through SM can be a powerful tool. Book trailers on FB or Twitter will become more common. So many possibilities to create new marketing strategies.

The experience will encourage some to continue and succeed even if only moderately at first. The Martian is an exception, but what an encouraging story.  If the writing is bad the comments or lack of take-up will show and also by comparison with other SP writing. The writer may decide authorship is not for them or else learn, improve and persevere.
 
I get really annoyed at the closed minds of literary critics who put down SP and are afraid of losing what they consider their place as the be-all and know-all of writing. They are not, it is the public who decide what they want to read, in whatever genre or format.  Even if some of the public choices are extreme in some directions  it doesn't matter, the best gradually survives because it stands the test of time.  When Dickens began his writing career by serialising in Punch that was a form of self publishing at that time and the public loved it, but it was far from the 'worthy tomes' being produced by academics.

There is one point perhaps worth considering here by writers planning to SP.  If English is not your first language and you have translated yourself or through a local translator it would be good to have a Beta who has English first language and can check it carefully for you.  What you have written may be grammatically correct but there are small nuances, turns of phrase, minor grammar points that let your work down, read awkwardly and stand out. These things can't be learned, they soak in through living in the language and growing up in it.

I choose books mainly on recommendations here or what I see elsewhere for different genres, regardless of whether or not they are SP. 
« Last Edit: October 11, 2015, 06:49:52 AM by Lady_Ty »
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Offline YordanZh

Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2015, 06:04:55 AM »
On principal and as a reader, for me self-publishing is invaluable for the literary landscape as a whole. I live in Bulgaria, which is a pretty small country, ebooks are almost never bought (mainly pirated), major publishers are too often afraid to publish local authors, and so self-publishing among the local authors is virtually non-existent - from time to time someone does it, usually with poetry, and prints several dozen books for friends and family, and that's it. The end result? Bulgarian literature is kind of suffering recently - too few authors manage to brake out, too many just write as a hobby and their work isn't read by more then several people or a book club somewhere.

And here we see the effect self-publishing has had with you guys - sure, it brings lots of problems with it, the market gets overflown with low-quality literature, it becomes really hard for the good indies to distinguish themselves from the bad ones, but the simple fact that the option of self-publishing exists encourages authors to write and publish and this has brought us (well, brought you) lots of great authors and novels. That alone makes it worth it for me.

Now, of course, as a reader I too usually notice indies only when they've already been picked up by a publisher and that's a pity - I self-publish in English myself and I know how hard it is - but that's only because we still have a long way till we make the whole thing work properly. As Matt said - there are too few avenues for indies and way too many indies, but I believe we'll sort it out eventually. :)

Offline m3mnoch

Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2015, 06:55:39 AM »
As for this, m3m:
2 -
is it just me, or does the main site make your eyes bug out if you read anything on it?  i always have to smash the stylesheet with evernote's clearly plugin to read anything on there.
No, not just you. I love seeing white font on black, but after reading an article, I'm left with black blobs in my eyes for a while ::)
What's that plugin?

in this day and age of questionable design and layout choices, this plugin is GOLD.
https://evernote.com/clearly/

Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: What do you think of Self-Published books?
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2015, 07:13:42 AM »
Just like traditional publishing, it's hit or miss, but there are a lot more misses than hits. But of the self-pubbed books I've read, the one that instantly comes to light as being one of the best books I've read in the past few years, self-pubbed or traditional, is Jonathan Renshaw's Dawn of Wonder. Fabulous writing in every sense of the word. This was on par with Anthony Ryan's Blood Song. For comparison's sake, I would say that Jon is better at the use of the English language while Anthony is better at plotting and narrative flow (Jon's book bogs a bit in a few places but his sheer genius with language use makes up for those deficits). Both are equally adept at creating scenes of violence and grace and characters that live on after the last page.

I would also add Jacob Cooper's Circle of Reign and James Islington's The Shadow of What was Lost to self-pubbed novels that are every bit as good as something traditionally published. James' book is very retro with a Jordanesque feel to it. Beyond the boy from nowhere, there's also a great depth to his world-building. There are mysteries that are hinted upon and a world of ancient lineage that few know about. James sometimes gets caught in the Capitalization conundrum (so do I), and the characters sometimes are a bit primitive, but overall, a great read.

Jacob's book is wow. So different. The world itself seems alive with senescence and growth. That's the first thing because it drives everything else. The story didn't track in the normal fashion I would have expected either. The heart of the story is about a young woman, Reign, and her brother. Again, strong world building with mysteries unfolding and a plot that really takes off in the last 1/3 of the book. It isn't slow until then-in fact, it was just as exciting but in a different way. However, that last third, Jacob throws everything, and I mean everything into a non-stop frenzy of a finish. It just becomes...well, read it and you'll know what I mean.

In the interest of being open, I've interviewed Jacob and Jon for my website, and Jacob has been invaluable in helping me make the jump into the audiobook market (I basically asked Nick Podehl out of the blue to read my books and was fortunate enough to hire him as the narrator for both of them-if anyone has any questions about this just PM me).

You and I must have some of the same tastes in self-published fantasy. I loved Islington's book and Cooper's, and I'm currently enjoying Renshaw's.