November 13, 2008

Let's Talk About...

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Self-publishing:

Self-publishing is the publishing of books and other media by the authors of those works, rather than by established, third-party publishers. -Wikipedia

I'm not going to add to yesterday's controversy (I've already made enough of an idiot of myself, thanks) but I am curious about self-publishing.

*What makes an author go this route? Has anyone done it? What was your experience: positive or negative? How did it affect your career? How do you market this kind of book?
*Readers, do you read/review them? What are your thoughts on them?
*Should they be read or reviewed differently than main stream books?
*Can you count blogging as self-publishing? What are your thoughts on that?

Just want to hear some thoughts.

Edited to add: Thanks to everyone for getting involved in this discussion. It was interesting to read your views and experiences.

21 comments :

  1. When I first started blogging, I accepted 2 self published books that were awful, so I'm very careful before I accept one now. I am actually reading one right now that is very good, so far.

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  2. 1 out of 3 isn't bad.

    I was actually surprised while reading the Wiki article at the books and authors that were self-published. There were some big names.

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  3. Self-published books are a mixed bag in my opinion. Generally, I prefer not to read them, unless I've been exposed to the author through literary journal, magazines, readings, or book bloggers reviews. In some cases, if authors are willing to send the book along without the promise of a review, I will take a look at it before deciding. In other cases, authors will send a few chapters via email and I will decide in that way whether I want to read and review it---if there are glaring typos or grammar issues or the topics are not of interest, I don't usually bother.

    As for blogs...this is self publishing, though there is a third party platform in the form of blogger or wordpress...so that might be a sticky one.

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  4. I've been following along with all the discussions for the past few days and I'm hearing all negative things said about self-published authors. I'd like to throw in my 2 cents as well.

    1 - I have not as yet read any self-published books.

    2 - I'd treat a review request from a self-published author the same as I would any other (is it a book I'd read by choice? if so, I tell the author that I'll give an honest review.)

    3 - NOT ALL SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS ARE HORRIBLE WRITERS. I know a gal who just decided to self-publish. She's been told my several publishers that although they like her book they won't publish it because she has no "platform" - basically, b/c she hasn't written anything before and isn't well known for anything. So she's taking the only route that is open to her, in the hopes that her next book will be picked up by a publisher if her first is successful on a small scale.

    4 - Book bloggers need to remember that common courtesy will get you very far. It's not the reviews I'm talking about here, but rather the comments everyone is leaving on the various blogs. Just because an author acts badly doesn't mean we need to do it as well.

    Ok, I'll hop off my soapbox now. :)

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  5. Serena- That's a good way of doing it.

    Heather- Thanks for weighing in. I don't think they are horrible writers. There are some that are and some that aren't. I really need an editor between me and a writer because I'm easily distracted by writing errors, backstory, etc. An editor has that eye the author doesn't. The author may not see that they didn't need 10 pages of Ch 17, but the editor does.

    I also understand that finding an agent or publisher is like finding a diamond in the sand box. It's frustrating, I'm sure.

    Are there editors for hire?

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  6. I've read a few self-published books and they are definitely a mixed bag. I will occasionally accept them for review and I do treat them like every other book.

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  7. I haven't been approached by self-published authors, that I know of. I have decided, though, that I prefer dealing with publishers and such--one author kind of left a bad taste in my mouth with the excessive emails and nagging (most of the time to all the bloggers he sent his book to). I've loved reading these threads the past couple of days and thanks for bringing up this topic!

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  8. The only self-published book I read was awful. Then again, the author went on to become moderately successful, so that's just me, really. I'm sure not all of them are bad, and there might be several reasons why an author would decide to self-publish.

    I guess it's hard to separate those authors who really believe in their work, enough not to want to give up even after countless rejections (and there are some examples of successful books that were repeatedly rejected by publishers at first, like the first Harry Potter and A Wrinkle in Time) from those authors who just can't face the possibility that other people might be right about their book not being any good.

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  9. I've only read one self-published book. It was a true crime book about a local murder and while it was interesting, it wasn't overly well written. The story really needed more focus than it had. And the cover was AWFUL. I know, don't judge a book by it's cover, but man some of them are terrible!

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  10. What was the controversy? Can't you all wait until my deadlines are over? Sheesh.

    I've read good and bad books on both sides. I can see why people self publish, in this day and age of MAKE IT BIG OR GO HOME, companies don't take a lot of chances.

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  11. I've read some fantastic self-published books and some duds. Recently, I read a bunch of duds in a row and I was about to throw up my hands and say, "Nay" forever, but then I read some good ones and I'm back to square one. I do think it's an excellent option and there are plenty of great books being self-published, these days.

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  12. I've been away from blogs for two days and I missed out on a controversy?!

    and, I'll just agree with most everyone who said they are a mixed bag. I have to really be intrigued by the story to want to read the book. That sounds kind of bad right? But in all fairness I do that with any ARC I receive. If the book doesn't sound interesting to me I just won't accept it. I'm doing this book blogging thing for fun after all :)

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  13. Trish- A bad experience can ruin it for everyone, can't it?

    Nymeth- That's the thing, how do we tell the difference? Sometimes they've been rejected for a reason.

    Carrie- Yes, that's true publishers tend to 'stay safe'. I'm sure you'll find out the controversy if you go to The Book Lady's blog.

    Bookfool- I guess that's why blog reviews can be a touchy subject. It's the only option we readers have of seeing what's worth reading.

    Iliana- No, I can see that. I have no wish to read books that don't have interesting topics- to me.

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  14. Lisa- Seriously, why are some of those covers so awful?

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  15. I have been pretty selective these days about which books I'm willing to accept for review, because I don't have time to review the ones I already have. I would have to be pretty interested I guess to accept a self-published book. I think they need to be held up to the same standards as mainstream books. The point is that they are entertaining and make you want to read further, isn't it?

    I have heard that some famous books started out self-published, but I would guess that luck, timing, and lots of work probably helped and the majority of self-published books don't make it that far. I guess with the possibility of sending a self-published book to bloggers in order to generate a buzz, it might be more viable these days to go that route. Or with the Kindle also.

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  16. I think the biggest issue with self published books is that there is often an absence of disciplined, objective editing (mind you, I've read some royalty published novels with the same issue...) I too have read some good and not-so-good self published novels, but I certainly understand why frustrated authors head down this path.

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  17. I unearthed the controversy. Not too hard. Sheesh. [she says non committedly].

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  18. To answer the question about why authors choose to self-publish... well, often they're delusional and think the book will sell itself and instead they end up with a basement or garage full of unsold books. That said, there are some very successful self-published authors who choose to go that route because they have a limited market and have access to the their target audience--and they can choose their mark-up and thus, how much they make. Generally, self-publication is recommended more for non-fiction writers than fiction.

    I have read and reviewed them, though, and I don't think they require or deserve to be treated any differently from mainstream books, but I am more hesitant to agree to accept them in the first place because, as a freelance editor, I have experience-based low expectations for them.

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  19. Kim- Yes, bloggers can help them but they better be sure that their books can stand up to our scrutiny. We're readers afterall.

    Carrie- Yeah, it's all the buzz.

    Jena- Thanks for your insights. It's nice to hear from a professional on the subject.

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  20. Apparently there's a joke in the book publishing business that goes something like this (I'll butcher it, I know!):

    Is there a great book out there that hasn't been discovered? No, because book publishers turn over every stone they can.

    (that's the gist of the *joke*...I think you get the drift)

    The first self-published book I read, Did I Expect Angels?, was really very good! But for the *most* part, self-published books are self-published for a reason. I watch a particular Yahoo! group composed mainly of authors and someone recently said they were going to self-publish, and many people recommended he really try NOT to do that, that he should make every effort to get his book published by a publishing company. There were various reasons, but I found it interesting that someone would recommend against it.

    Oh, and you did NOT make a fool of yourself...at least not that I saw. ;-)

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