Saturday, July 14, 2012

ARE INDIE & SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS ANY GOOD?

Today's blog is a short blurb about indie and self-published authors.  There is a lot of discussion and consternation within the writing community that these authors are hurting authors' credibility.  The honest truth - some of them are.

The most common drawbacks are horrific editing and just plain bad writing.   I've received the excuse that the author can't afford a professional editor more times than I care to recall.  My attitude is, if you spent the time to write the darn thing, then invest in an editor.  Eat KD if you have to.  Yes, yes, I know, the Big 6 publishers have errors in their books too.  Just not every paragraph.

In my view, series such as The Twilight Saga and 50 Shades of Grey have definitely not inspired authors to put out their best work.  Vampires and sex sell.  Apparently, decent writing does not have to accompany ghouls and erotica.  Many wanna-be writers jumped on these bandwagons and rushed to self-publish their "piece of work" as fast as possible in hopes of being the next writer to strike it rich.  Pipe dreams.  It's a tough world out there.

However, there are gems amongst the rocks.  The trick is knowing how to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Virtually every ebook sold on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and Smashwords, just to name a few of the big self-publishing venues, enables you to read a sample.

I learned the hard way to always read the sample before I agree to review an indie or self-published author.  Unless reviews posted on these sites give the reviewer's full name, I would advise you disregard them.  There are authors who will beg anyone and everyone - their mother, father, siblings, four times removed cousins - to give them a 5 star review.  My jaw has dropped at some of the novels receiving 5 star reviews completely undeserving of even 1 star.

If a review is posted by a legitimate reviewer who uses their own name, the odds are it's a genuine review.  I, for one, am not willing to risk my reputation as a reviewer by dropping 5 star reviews indiscriminately.  When I post a review, I write it under Darlene Williams.   A simple Google search is enough to discover I blog reviews.  The same holds true for other reputable bloggers.

Another little trick which seems to be making the rounds is asking other authors to write a review so those authors can insert a little plug for their own novel in the review.  A "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" scenario.  Originally permitted by Amazon, I believe this might now be forbidden.  If you should chance upon one of these types of reviews, it is likely best to dismiss it.

Now, back to the gems.  They do exist.  The reading community benefits by obtaining good reads for a nominal purchase amount.  I note on my home page that I support indie and new authors.  And, I do.  I might very well be one of them within the next year (right after I've hired a professional editor).

To prove quality writing by indie and self-published authors is available, my next review will focus on one of the gems I found.  I'm about half-way through another 2 self-published authors who have released solid work.

Well, I've come to the end of my not-so-short rant...er....I mean post.  Stay tuned for Prue Batten's "Gisborne:  Book of Pawns".

13 comments:

  1. The editing thing is the worst. Several times I've come across a genuinely decent story marred by "whose/who's"-type errors, and it just makes me sad. Not only are they hurting their own success, but they're hurting the chances of other indies to gain sales and respectability. Even just a critique from a friend can fix a lot of these problems.

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    2. Tee Hee! Just had to delete my comment because of a grammatical error. As I was saying, I have to agree with you Rosie - editing is key and lots of authors just don't get this.

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  2. I could not agree with you more, Darlene. Like you, I support independents, but it continues to be a struggle when you see some of the poor quality works and the over-egged reviews some of them receive. A great post that should give encouragement to writers who want to be taken seriously. If you work hard at crafting a story, build characters and breathe life into them, surely you would be prepared to polish your work until it shines? If not then be prepared to be rejected and receive poor reviews from people like us, who work just as hard to identify independents who do not go the extra mile but put the real effort in to ensure their work is as professionally presented as possible as a basic standard.

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  3. The unpublished ms of my novel, Tell A Thousand Lies, was shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia award. I had a publishing contract in hand which I declined because we could not agree on the terms (there are 2-3 agents in India, so most authors have to negotiate with the publisher directly).

    I hired a Texas-based editor (I'm in India), an India-based book cover designer, a Japan based book formatter. Did the expense hurt? You bet, it did (the exchange rate rupee-to-dollar didn't help). But my book's been getting good reviews (4.6 stars from 68 reviews on Amazon, 4.10 stars from 91 ratings/47 reviews on Goodreads).

    A lot of book bloggers have been kind enough to review my book. Then there are others who have a blanket ban on self-pubbed books. One lady's submission guidelines state: I do not accept self-published books, period. And you better not be sneaking around this policy.

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  4. It is tough being an Indie writer - especially with the amount of dross that is e-published in a hurry in order to take advantage of the latest 'big thing' in books.

    I am an Indie writer with three e-books published so I do appreciate that there are some bloggers and reviewers who are still prepared to judge a book on its merits, rather than damn it out-of-hand because it is by an Indie.

    When starting out on my Indie career, I knew very little about publishing, about how to gain good, honest reviews and, yes, I did fall into the trap of 'swopping' reviews with other Indie writers. As soon as I realised this was a form of cheating, I stopped doing that and now feel ashamed I did it at all. I regularly read and review Indie books and big-6 books, always give my honest opinion and don't review books that might be in competition with my own work.

    I now have quite a few reviews of my own books and thus far have never been criticised for the quality of my writing or editing, which is most gratifying. I've lost count of the number of re-writes, revisions and edits of my books prior to publication and know there is no shortcut to producing an acceptable book. I hope your blog is read and digested by those fly-by-night Indie writers who produce sub-standard work in order to make a fast buck - but I guess writers of that calibre simply won't bother.

    I read and review both Indie and Big 6 books, always give an honest opinion and don't review anything that might be in direct competition with my own work.

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  5. Oh, dear - how can I lose those errant lines that have appeared at the bottom of my comment - apologies.

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  7. Oops, just had to remove for a typo.. trying again.
    A very interesting post, Darlene, and I agree wholeheartedly. I review both self and trad-published books and the editing and layout in so many, though not all, indie-published books is abysmal. At times I have mentioned this to the author, before putting up a review and, interestingly, a lot don't seem the list bit concerned about this aspect. They seem quite content to put poorly-presented work out there, as if grammar and spelling are no longer important, in this fast-turnover digital age!

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  8. Hi Darlene, thanks for the twitter contact.

    First, I write under a pen name for a good reason--my historical romances need to be sternly separated from my (soon-to-be-pub) fantasy books that appeal to a crossover youth/adult audience. And so when I write reviews--for Manic Reviews, You Gotta Read and Storm Goddess Reviews--I use my pen name.

    I find, as you have, that the indie books tend to be more full of annoying errors that any decent editor should have excised. Yet strangely enough, I find egregious errors even in books pub by well known houses. Wassup with that? Am I just too sensitive to overuse of passive, shifting pov, historical errors?

    I myself write for two e-publishers and soon to be three. So far, the editors are as exacting with the red pen as I used to be as a school marm, and I appreciate that. I lose respect for a pub house whose editor lets simple mistakes slide through. So when I review a book, I'll always knock it down at least half a notch if grammatical and stylistic mistakes mar the writing.

    The point I'm slowly getting to is that pubbed authors as well as self-pubbed authors make mistakes, and we as reviewers need to select books from both sides and to review them with the same jaundiced eye...or with the same appreciative eye. We cannot assume that an indie author is inferior to one published by a regular house. I agree that, given the choice, I would select books where I can view an excerpt. But I'm not always privy to a writing sample. And I have found many a gem among indie authors...

    Thanks for the forum! Erin O'Quinn @dawnofireland

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    1. Hey Erin - I agree with you; there are many errors in traditionally pubbed books as well as self-pubbed. One author, I forget who it was - Diana Galbadon maybe - once wrote an article or had something on her blog about her "bloopers". Nice honesty for a change! I apply the same standards to writers of all stripes. No favoritism. Great talking with you here and on Twitter. My, you are certainly one busy girl!

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  9. iUniverse has helped more than 35,000 authors publish their books professionally and affordably. Since 1999, we have crafted a reputation for breaking records and blazing new trails in the self-publishing industry.

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