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Wed Feb 13, 2013, 06:17 AM

Self publishing, by the numbers.

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 04:37 PM

1. It has been my experience that

most people who self-publish shouldn't. They don't know how to write well in the first place and do not get sufficient editing. I have always regretted when I purchase a self-published book.

Yes, I know about respectable writers who have in the past self-published, and a few already established ones who are doing so today.

The other trend I'm extremely disturbed by is the "Print books are dead. Soon, real soon now everyone will read ebooks and only ebooks." Really? Unfortunately, Amazon is the biggest offender here. While I understand the appeal of ebooks, to promote them totally in place of print books is a Very Bad Idea. For lots of reasons, not the least of which is, what are you going to do when the format changes? You don't think it will? When was the last time you bought an 8-track tape? Meanwhile, print books will remain readable so long as someone is still alive who can read the language. I understand the Smithsonian owns a whole bunch of audio recordings that they cannot play because they don't know exactly what technology was used to produce and then play them.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 11:44 AM

2. Rarely have I found a self-published book worth reading

Life is too short to waste on dreck when there are so many good books to read.

Yes, there is the rare good self-published storyteller (I do like Konrath), but it's interesting how the good self-published books often are by authors who were traditionally published first.

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Response to mainer (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:21 PM

3. Yep. I also think the push about self-publishing

is also a way for the companies who allow you to self-publish to themselves make buckets of money. They aren't in it out of simple human kindness.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 23, 2013, 09:25 PM

4. Do you think that publishers are in it out of "simple human kindness"?

Self-publishing is a business model where individuals can publish their own works. While they do take between 30-70% of the revenue (depending on the price model). Publishing houses, as per the info graphic, take far far more.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 23, 2013, 09:53 PM

5. No. Regular publishing is business. Anyone who doesn't get that isn't paying

attention to very much.

Someone else recently sent me a link to information on the Internet about self publishing, and at least that link talked rather explicitly about the need for good editing of whatever has been written.

If you self-publish and you have no credits to your name, it can be somewhat difficult to persuade anyone to buy your opus. Some smaller bookstores will carry your books for you. Or you can always sell out of the back of your car.

But I keep on coming back to the self-published books I've made the mistake of buying. Simply put, they're not very good.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #5)

Sat Feb 23, 2013, 11:05 PM

6. If the preview isn't good, then don't buy it.

If they did a good preview but it went downhill from there I'd suggest posting a review making this clear so others aren't duped. I'd also suggest reading reviews before purchasing a self-published book and perhaps even wait for those self-published books that have a much bigger following.

Editing is extremely important, I agree. But it isn't really a specialty that you can't learn for yourself.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #6)

Sun Feb 24, 2013, 12:04 AM

7. It's been probably a good twenty years since I've bought a self-published book,

and the few that I did buy I didn't have a chance to read reviews of.

These days, I always read reviews. As it happens, I rarely buy books, but instead get them from the library. The real advantage to that aside from saving money is that if I check out a book that I'm not finding very interesting, I'm willing to stop reading and just return it.

Too many people are terrible at self-editing. Yes, it's largely learnable, but not too many seem to try very hard.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #7)

Sun Feb 24, 2013, 05:53 PM

8. That's not very fair then.

You're basing your criticism on self-published print books.

There is a veritable glut of ebooks right now. Rather than say "there are a lot of shit ebooks" I'd be more inclined to say "it is difficult to find good ebooks because there are so many of them!"

Self-published ebooks can be had at some libraries that offer Nook or Kindle readers, mind you. Self-published print books, I think, are becoming better because those who start off as ebook writers only go to the print medium once they've actually made it on digital. Either because there's a demand for their book (Fifty Shades) or because the author has made enough money to afford a print run. Also, on demand printing is a good way to approach print. Don't print 100k copies that a test copy group decided needed to be printed, print as many as are ordered.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #8)

Sun Feb 24, 2013, 09:01 PM

9. I'm basing my criticism on the fact that the self-published books I've read haven't been very good.

Haven't read 50 Shades because quite frankly, it doesn't sound very good. Someone whose opinion I respect said that it was truly awful, poorly written.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #9)

Sun Feb 24, 2013, 11:50 PM

10. That was just an example. A better one would be Wool.

Fifty Shades has horribly bland characters, but the writing is not terrible, as far as structure is concerned. It sells to the house-wife type kind of like Twilight.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:31 AM

11. You've hit on something very important.

There are a huge number of people out there who read only one or two books a year. I've noticed over the years that various hugely hyped books often appeal to that sort of person, and I've also noticed that very often -- at least for me -- those hugely hyped books simply aren't all that good. These are "gold standard", books which have been published by major publishing firms and have had the kind of editing and so forth that they deserve. Many of those, for me, just are very unsatisfactory.

I read anywhere from 50 to 100 books per year, fewer now than in my youth, partly because of time spent on the Internet these days. Still I read a lot, and so I notice a lot in the novels I read.

You're right about Twilight. It's the kind of series that totally doesn't interest me, and as far as I can tell it's been widely read by teenage girls and by women who otherwise read only a couple of books a year. Since I haven't read those books, I can't begin to comment on them. But it is a shame that more people don't go from something like the Twilight series to better, more worthwhile novels.

For me, there is nothing better than a new book by one of my many favorite writers. Or discovering a new-to-me writer. I love to read. I love a good book. I love talking about books with others.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 02:12 PM

13. What makes you think housewives have bad taste?

It truly WAS terrible writing. It's popular among those who just don't read books, and those for whom any book read is an achievement. Or it's read by those who want to see what the fuss is about -- only to discover they've been conned into reading the unreadable.

(meant in reply to joshcryer)

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Response to mainer (Reply #13)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 08:45 PM

14. I didn't say they had bad taste.

I do not criticize the thousands of Harlequin books that have been sold over the years, whose demographic is largely housewives (they are trying to change that to a younger demographic). Note, I wasn't totally accurate there. I think house wives implies stay at home moms exclusively, I should have said working mothers and house wives. I apologize for failing that distinction. The fastest growing aspect of ebooks is in fact romance novels.

I have not read Fifty Shades in its entirety but I did run a grammar check on it and read a few snippets here or there. While the characters are dull, unrealistic, and caricatures of Mary Janes and Marty Joes, the writing itself is not terrible. I have truly read far worse. Even a top selling book like Hunger Games has its share of horrible editing (and that didn't start off as an ebook).

People wouldn't have "wanted to see what the fuss was about" until it hit the top selling lists. Once it did, that was all she wrote. Most top sellers actually benefit from that sort of social mind share. People talking about some new book, others want to read it, and they're peer pressured into getting it to so they can belong to the conversation.

I hate that Fifty Shades is part of literary culture now. I hate that there's a lot of other shit out there, too. But I choose to believe that freedom to publish is better than being barred by publishing houses from publishing.

Check out Wool for a fascinating ebook that made the guy a millionaire.

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Response to mainer (Reply #13)

Fri Mar 22, 2013, 09:03 AM

21. Actually, my experience has been...

that it's being read by unfulfilled women who are titillated and aroused by the D/s aspects of 50 Shades but "would never ever do anything like that." because "it's dirty and wrong." (That may just be among my friends and family though.) They know it's bad writing, but it makes their crotches warm and tingly.

I've been trying to tell them that there is much better erotic fiction out there; hell there's better free! erotic fiction out there on the internet that they can read in the comfort of their own home and nobody will ever know they're reading. By the responses that book gets, you'd think nobody ever wrote badly about kinky sex before using small words.

Actually, I feel inspired now to compile a list of better erotic fiction than 50 Shades and write an article.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #9)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 02:08 PM

12. 50 Shades? Yes it was awful.

Every bit as bad as you've heard.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #6)


Response to SheilaT (Reply #1)

Sun Mar 3, 2013, 08:00 AM

17. Publish America


A few years back I had time off work with back surgery. I wrote a collection of short stories Which I shared with anyone who was willing to read them. Soon some over enthusiastic friends and relatives urged me to attempt to get them published. This all caused me to spend a few days emailing Publishers.
So time passed and I was back at work. Soon offers from Vanity publishers came in fast and heavy, there was not a single legitimate publisher who responded. What I did was to take the path of least resistance. I was determined not to pay a publisher, Publish America promised a $1 up front and a % of sales.
I made the poorest possible choice and sent my scribblings into Publish America.
They did nothing. There wasn't any editing beyond the crude effort that I was able to give. There would be absolutely no promotional help. There was no advise to be offered in almost any area.
The book sold little and made me pocket change.
I am not claiming that they mishandled a new O. Henry, but it would have been nice to see my stories be given a reasonable shot.
So now i have had another surgery.
How about a historical novel. U.S. history as told by a degenerate, time traveling archangel, who works to help shape American history under the direction of THE supreme being...Willie Nelson?
I'm told the pain killers i was taking, may have left my potato baking just a tad to long.

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Fri Mar 1, 2013, 04:27 PM

15. What this leaves out

among other things, is how much it costs to promote a book. Good, and I mean GOOD, self-published books still only get read if the author is willing to spend money and work like hell to self-promote, which is much more difficult, and more humiliating, than having a publishing house push your book and use their well-established connections to get reviews, blurbs, etc. As for some of these stats. Lots of self-published authors simply lie about their sales. Sometimes they lie big. A diet book author looked me in the face a while back and claimed he'd sold fifty thousand copies. I could fairly see his nose growing.

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Response to Brainstormy (Reply #15)


Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Sat Mar 2, 2013, 08:40 AM

16. I get a lot of free galleys

More, in fact, than I can handle. I receive them from traditional publishing houses as well as from self-published authors. While not every traditionally published book was a worthwhile read, most of them had at least minimum standards of plot and character development.

But the self-published books? I can't remember the last time I read one that was worth paying for. I no longer accept self-published galleys to review, as they are, as a group, just too awful.

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

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