Self publishing or self indulgence ???

Lately I have been receiving e-mails from authors requesting that I review their books.

Sounds good so far…free books.

But let’s look at the last three books that have come my way.

Corpalism by Arun D Ellis: The first two parts of the book were wordy, with too much exposition and seemingly unrelated to each other. There were too many to note, but the book was full of spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. And yet there was underneath it all the possibility of a story that could become something. Part three logically for this reader was going to be where the melding of the previous parts would occur and thus draw the story together. Nope. Nyet. No way Jose.

Well…I have no answer for just how bad this piece of writing got !!!

I wanted this book to work…because the subject matter is relevant to today’s society. In the end though I couldn’t finish it as got mired down in a soup of self indulgent, incoherent storytelling that made no sense at all.

I decided to contact the writer and inform him that I could not write a review for this book to display on my blog. There was no way this book was ready for the public arena. One small problem though…the book was already published.

Curious as to how others perceived the book off I went to Goodreads. The publicity blurb had me believing this was the novel of the year.

Book 2: I actually liked this one. It needs tweaking in a few places (in my opinion) but has the possibility to do well with the demographic it is aimed at. But oh…the mistakes that were littered throughout. I am a bit pedantic when it comes to books with spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors. I hate it. Now I know that it occurs. In a book that has 100,000 plus words an error or two will slip past. So again I contacted the author. What did the author do…he sent it BACK to the proofreader.

Seriously.

Who is this proofreader ???

Why are they NOT doing their job ???

I am assuming they got paid a bucket-load for their services.

At least this one hasn’t been published in this state. Because I believe that this one could do well. I also believe if a book is published before it is ready it will not ever recover from that.

Click: An Online Love Story by Lisa Becker.

Picture this. Opening the first page on my computer what do I see ???  The book cover, the title page. All good. The table of contents tells me there are nine chapters.

Tap…Kindle clicks over to the first page of the story.

Interesting. The book starts with a couple of e-mails. Including the ‘From, To and Subject’ lines of the e-mails.

Tap. Next page.

Tap.

Tap, tap.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

OMG !!!!!!!! The whole freaking book is nothing BUT e-mails with every e-mail including the ‘from, to and subject’ lines. Capitol letters emphasise words. Comments such as <Insert sarcastic tone> pop up all over the place.

What a friggin’ nightmare to read.

I was done by page five I think. So I can’t tell you whether this one is littered with mistakes that need a proofreader to sort out. Because I lost interest.

I have read books in the past that are based solely on a series of letters between people. One I thought was done exceptionally well. But in truth I think it is a lazy way of writing.

I have gone back and browsed through it, but it is just not my cup of tea.

The plot ???

Renee Greene is talked in to going online by her friend Mark Finlay to find love.

The further the plot progresses, the sillier it gets. I didn’t believe it. It felt forced.

What I am getting from reading all these books is this. Independent publishing should not mean publishing any old rubbish, or as in book number two a book that is peppered with errors. As an independent author the onus is on you to make sure that the book is free from errors. It is also your responsibility to get the opinion of someone, actually lots of someones about two other things.

Is the story any good ?

Is the writing any good ?

As a writer I know how easy it is to be blinded by words on the page. They become your babies. As such it is often difficult to look at them without prejudice and judge them solely on their merit and worth to the story.

A writer I admire once told me that if the words on the page don’t do one of two things they should NOT be there. They must move the story along to its next destination, or they must provide NEEDED background to move the story along to its next destination. Every word must have a purpose and earn its place.

In the future I hope to publish my own novels. I have learned three, what I consider important, things from writing book reviews.

The need to get expert as well as lay opinions. Actually get as many opinions as you can as long as they are honest. As the writer you are too close to your work to view it objectively. I think of J.K.Rowling when I say that. I love the Harry Potter books. I wonder though if her fame got in the way of the last book. In my view it was in need of some serious editing.

You need to listen to the opinions of others even if you disagree. If a reader tells you they don’t get what you are getting at…then that is your fault as a writer. Writing should make it easy for the reader to fly from word to word, character to character, becoming lost in the story. A really great book makes understanding the plot and reading easy. If someone tells you they don’t get it…as a writer you need to look at why that is and fix it. That is your job !!!!

Self publishing should not mean sloppy publishing. Edit, edit then edit again.

Which bring me to number three. Mistakes. Spelling mistakes. Punctuation mistakes. Errors in grammar.

Proofread, proofread, proofread and do it again. Then send it to a professional proofreader who has a GOOD reputation. When it arrives back…proofread, proofread and proofread again.

It makes all the difference.

Books like these are why authors need to get a professional proofreader (one who is good at his job), and an editor who will tell them the truth about their writing before they publish. Independent publishing of books in these states only makes it tougher for all the other independent authors to stand a chance.

Publisher/author Kenneth G. Bennett did all these things before he published The Gaia Wars and sent out a well written book that meets all the criteria and is a great read because of it. So too did Edmund Jorgensen, author of Speculation.

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40 thoughts on “Self publishing or self indulgence ???”

  1. I did a blog post about Traditional Publishing vs Self Publishing. One of my reasons against self publishing is this very same fact. “I believe that the market is also full of self published books that are published too soon. Perhaps they weren’t edited enough or the writers didn’t take the time to collect feedback on their work or they simply just didn’t revise enough before sending it off and the badly written self-published book only perpetuates the bad stigma. Every writer believes their book is a fabulous masterpiece that is going to take the literary world by storm. That they are the next J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer or even the next Nicholas Sparks. Each draft I finished I thought…well not the same, I’m not that conceded about my work, but I thought my book was down right dang good. I quickly found out though, that the more I worked on my manuscript and received feedback, the better it became and all those drafts I thought were finished and good, weren’t finished and they weren’t good enough. So how does a writer know their book is the best it can be? They don’t, which makes self publishing a gamble.” Also, I agree on a professional proofreader and editor before self publishing. Great post!

    1. Hi Angela…I read your post. It was great. Glad you found something that resonates here with you. I guess I got on my soapbox a little but people putting bad writing out there simply because they can really irritates me.

        1. I doubt it. This morning I had an e-mail from a site that I use. It runs book tours for self published authors. A couple of books I have done reviews for were terrific. But the one they are asking for people for now…I read an excerpt and was left astounded that this sort of drivel is actually out there.

          From the book: As my face blazes, fists clench and teeth grind, I can easily imagine the onset of a stroke, an aneurism, a pulmonary embolism, a raging scream—

          and on it goes… :(

          1. Oh wow. Yep, it’s hard to be on both sides of self publishing. One side helps real writers who do their homework and one side saturates the book world with junk. Do you do professional book reviews? Only for self published?

          2. I only recently started doing book reviews. It began with a challenge. Rereading and reviewing books that I read as a child.and how I perceived them as an adult. Then I found this site that does book tours for independant authors and thought ‘why not?’ I am hoping to build on it and do reviews professionally at some point. Combining two loves…reading and writing. One author I reviewed actually suggested I consider writing book jackets. I am not sure how to go about breaking in to that one but it does intrigue me.

    2. Self publishing is a waste of time and books that are available in that manner are not recognised as being published by anyone worth knowing in the publishing field, indeed self published books are simply in print to satisfy the writer’s ego and the reason why self publishing is classed under vanity presses.

      The only way to go forward and be acknowledged as a writer is through a well established publishing house, of course they tend to work at a snail’s pace but at least the manuscripts are always viewed by experts, mind you it always comes down to what one or two people think of a person’s work and remember that is only an opinion, but a judgment that can change how a writer can develop or fall by the wayside.

      Always work hard and never give up on the dream, oh yes and NEVER self publish either as that is most definitely a big mistake. In my own opinion of course :)

      Have a fun day today my friend and I enjoyed reading your comment :)

      Androgoth

      1. Hmmmmmmm…interesting that you think so.
        I don’t agree completely. I think there is the possibility of success if everything is done correctly and the work is good. These days many publishing houses leave all the marketing up to the author anyway. So if tackled correctly I do believe it is possible to make a success when self publishing. But it is not something to go in to lightly. You must do your homework…you must make sure the product is up to standard.

  2. Stephen King writes his first draft. Then he puts it away until HE NO LONGER THINKS OF IT. The least amount of time is 6 months, I believe. Then he comes at it FRESH. He edits it down at least (if I remember correctly) 10% (maybe 20%). He also gives it to people he trusts to read it so they can give him feedback. He doesn’t write and submit. He is very careful about his craft. (Read “On Writing” by Stephen King to find out the full process…I may have it a bit off.) I shy away from self-published books because I read every comma, every misspelled word (that’s what editing does to you), every odd syntax and it drives me crazy! It could be the best book of the year, but if it is littered with incorrect grammar/punctuation, I can not appreciate the story itself.

    Excellent post. Thank you!

    1. No wonder Stephen King is successful with his good practises toward his writing. It is a shame that self published books have such a bad rep as they don’t all deserve it.

  3. Although I don’t write fiction, I did self publish a book about my journey with Fibromyalgia. And, yes, I paid an editor and proofreader and boy was I glad I did! I’ve seen so many self published books with spelling mistakes and grammar errors. Some of them, thankfully, have posted chapter one on line, for free so you know right away how poorly written it is or the potential it has if only they would have hired someone to proofread and edit for them. You just can’t get by without that.

  4. You are completely right about most self published books and well done for being honest. In the long run you’ll help these writers far more than those who give fawning platitudes. Just wish I could get you to read mine now.

    1. Send it to me and I will. I am always open to new books and the discovery of a well turned phrase and a plot that teases me. Just promise me that you’ll still talk to me after…I can be a bit harsh I am told. ;) ;)
      But it is always done with the best intentions.

        1. You can send it (e-book) to my e-mail: aussie_jo@hotmail.com
          Make sure you put what it is about in the subject line just so I don’t screw up and delete it by mistake. ;)
          Can’t wait !!!!!!!
          When you e-mail me I can send you my address so you can send a real book (oh I love the smell of paper) if you want.

  5. I can understand your frustration, and it does seem that the self publishing scene is rather a way people think they can just get away with errors in the hopes that they might be discovered. It is also true of the corporate publishers as well, they too have gotten rather lax with their editing and proofreading of books, I have read a couple of books recently, on my Kindle, that have silly errors in them.

    1. True…I remember in a couple of books lately wondering if they had been edited. I like the idea of self-publishing because I think these days traditional publishers are too focused on what they think will sell instead of really looking for great books and authors. And I have always felt that writers are at the mercy of that old dragon ‘personal taste’ which whether they will admit to it or not does have a lot of sway over who they take on or not. Bit I will NEVER understand a writer allowing anything other than their best to be put out there for public concumption.

      1. I fret over having mistakes or not noticing errors when I write something on here, I cannot imagine letting something like a novel go to press with glaring errors. Though luckily that is probably the exception and not the rule.
        The truly dedicated self-publishers will hopefully be more attentative to their work being published and find an editor or proof-reader to go over it.

        1. I would like to think so. I know even when I write a comment and I see an error it drives me insane. But I have had a few books that have really shocked me with the errors.

  6. Jo,
    This is a great post. As a (former) editor, I think spelling and grammar are important. With the new “texting” language, too many people don’t think writing properly (following rules) is important for communication. I wish people still believed that editing/proofreading is important! I’d probably still be working in the field if they did.

    1. I am so filled with joy at all the positive comments on this post.

      I just read the most wonderful article in Reader’s Digest. An interview with Alexander McCall Smith. In it he talks about language. Our loss of it recently with our tendency towards laziness in the use of swearing and so on. He told the most amazing story.

      A number of us visited Moscow in the dying days of communism. There was an elderly man who attended our seminar. We invited people to speak and he stood up and spoke in Russian. All the Russians watched him. One of the Russians began to cry.
      Afterwards I asked her, “What was that about?” And she said, “That man was speaking our language so beautifully. He was speaking pre-comminisn Russian.” They were so moved by this because in fact Russian had been made very crude under communisn, aggressively crude. I though that was a wonderful example of the richness of language.

      Language is such a gift that it makes me want to howl when I see it poorly represented on the page through laziness.

  7. I so relate! I’m a picky reader.. but I also read a LOT. And even publishing houses are dropping their bar. I’ll say it: I think the last Harry Potter tome was a terribly edited book. I’ve stopped following best seller lists because I feel the general public’s taste has been too tolerant.. or ignorant.

    1. I agree about the last Harry Potter book. I no longer follow best seller lists. After 50 Shades of Grey and the two other books in the series made it to one…well that was it for me. Talk about a great big clump of bad writing.

  8. I think you need a medal for your patience Jo.. I have several books I have yet to open which I had bought me for my birthday.. I once upon a time started to put together a book of sorts.. I doubt it will ever reach the printed stage.. But when you do see some of the self pubished books on sale you wonder what you were worried about! :-) … Wishing you a relaxing weekend Jo.. ~Sue xx

    1. I just love to read. And I thought it would be fun to read newish book. And it is – from some of the authors. But i will never understand someone putting substandard work out in to the public arena. Never !!!

    1. Hey Hook,
      so glad you liked this one…though it was not said with you in mind. Hehehehe
      I just find it incredible the amount of books being put out that are either total crap or badly edited and proofread. Always here to offer my services if you need another pair of eyes !!!!

  9. Hi Jo…I loved this post!
    Your honesty was refreshing…and you are so 100% spot on. I did self-publish my parenting/activity book…and was VERY careful about grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. I agree that many self-published books are filled with mistakes and even some of the traditionally published books these days are not up to standard…and some are so WORDY, I’m amazed the publisher was willing to pay to print so many pages. I was a great fan of Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series…I read the last one…well, I tried to read the last one…and sad to say, I couldn’t finish it…I even flipped to the last 50 pages in hopes I could discover what happens in the end, but couldn’t even get through that. :(

    I just did an interview on picture book author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog…she is doing a mini-series on self-publishing. Maybe you’d be interested in looking at it: http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2012/06/self-publishing-mini-series-meet-vivian.html

    1. Thanks Vivian !!! I haven’t managed to read that one of the Cave Bear serires yet. I loved her earlier books…what a shame. I think that sometimes their fame gets in the way. Editors don’t either have the guts to tell them or the clout anymore once they become a name. I thought the same of the Harry Potter books. The more famous J.K.Rowling got – the wordier her books got, and not to their advantage I believe.

      I read your interview…really interesting the journey you have taken with publishing.

      I have already started reading up on what to do…how to do it. I am already trying to put some marketing strategies in place for when the time comes. It really is a journey when you want to self-publish, and for me I think it will be the way to go in the future.

  10. I have mixed feelings about self-published books. A friend of mine has self-published. Her novels are set in the Balkans where she has lived. She was turned down by a publisher who said the Balkans were not a setting people were interested in. They suggested she change location. I have two of her books. One is a collection of poems and writings from when she was working with refugees. The other is a novel. I feel the novel has good bones but needs an editor who will help her with the slash and burn part to strip away the longeurs and unnecessary bits which do not add to her work.
    However, bad writing and sloppy grammar are not confined to self-published books. Ever tried Dan Brown?

    1. I agree with you about the mixed feelings. But it doesn’t have to be bad just because it is self published. I have read some amazing self published books. The Gaia Wars, Speculation, and at the moment I am reading one by a friend who is doing the last editing (and I get to help with that – I love editing actually), and it makes me weep with joy for the beauty of it.

      Oh yes I have read Dan Brown…sadly !!!! What a waste of hours that was.

There are two things I know for certain. One: Bert and Ernie are gay. Two: I want to hear your opinion.

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