Monday, August 20, 2012

Thoughts On... Self-Publishing

I read a pretty interesting article on Forbes the other day. (Twitter followers know I like reading articles about random stuff by now.) It was about why Indie and self published books may push the book industry to become better. It's a great article by the way; very informative so please do check it out if you have the chance.

I read the article from a very interesting perspective- that of a blogger. The article has many subsections and I thought I'd share some interesting points from the article, as well as present my own opinions.

The first section of the article is about how some bestselling mainstream authors see Indie publishing. Most notably, there was a very interesting quote from an author called Brad Thor.

"The important role that publishers fill is to separate the wheat from the chaff.  If you’re a good writer and have a great book you should be able to get a publishing contract."

This is a controversial idea. The article itself goes on to speak about how this isn't necessarily true, but I'm going to talk about this from a reader's perspective.

A while back, I brought a review title to school. It was self published and the cover was interesting enough that some classmates looked at it. One classmate asked me why it looked different (as in, where's the publisher) and I tried to explain self publishing to her. The reaction from her and other students was something along the lines of "So anyone can write their own book and have it published?" Yes. And no.

The thing publishing does that is so awesome is that theoretically, the books being published are quality titles. Self publishing on the other hand can be done by anyone. This is good in a way- more stories, more writing- but what kind of guaranty do I get as a reader that the novel I'm reading is any good?

A lot of bloggers have stopped accepting Indie titles and I totally respect that because everyone has read a book they didn't feel like it should be given to readers. Either there are grammatical errors (more than three in a book is a BIG nono for me) or the writing style needed work (awkward phrasing, plot pacing, etc.) but evidently there are some Indie titles that are really good and awesome. How do you find the diamonds in the rough? By reviews. But generally, people don't want to look at a bunch of maybes in their search for a good book. They're looking for a surefire hit. And the surest way to find a good book is to read published titles.

That doesn't mean Indie titles are inferior. All it means that every published title has been read several times by many people. Edits have been made and obviously, the book has been deemed one that should be read by others. It's the same principle as everything else in life. Even blogging. Popular blogs are ones that are linked in tweets and in other blog posts. The more followers you have, the easier it is to get even more. However if you're a newbie blogger, you have a harder time getting real followers because your product isn't certain. People don't know if you'll continue blogging every week or if you'll give up within a month. This uncertainty isn't very helpful, but if you want to be a decent blogger you'll continue with the quality content until people feel more secure in following you. Same goes with little known Indie authors. If their book is really good, it should create some buzz.

Whenever I agree to review an Indie title, I feel like I'm taking a chance. I've read more titles I didn't like than ones I did. (By the way, check out Lynn Seresin's Thin Air. I really liked that book.) I did consider not reviewing them anymore, but I want to promote good books so I will accept Indies in the chance that I'll find an incredible read I can hype up to everyone I know.

The thing about Indie titles is that there are so many of them, and a lot of them are new. They don't reach many people that aren't serious about reading (i.e., have a Kindle). Even when you do see reviews of Indies, if there aren't many reviews of that book it's hard to believe all the positive 4 & 5 star reviews without seeing a 1 or 2 star review. Anyone can write a review these days, so I personally see it as a red flag if the only reviews I'm seeing are positive, especially if there aren't that many reviews in general.

Self published titles are unknown commodities. Published titles aren't always books I like, but their presentation is supposed to be top notch. They're supposed to be books I may like considering what's trending in the market, while Indie authors are more free to write whatever they want. Both ways of writing have their merits, and both are far from being perfect methods.

My  personal opinion is that when there are two books offered to me, Indie or traditionally published, I'll probably go with the sure thing and go for tradition. But that's just me. If an Indie title piques my interest, I will check it out, perhaps a bit more cautiously because I don't know what I'm getting.

Indie publishing in general is a good thing. It pushes publishers to have more decent pay, lowers the price of books, and maybe instead of books being published because they're trendy, it shows publishers that different types of books can also be popular. Maybe this will lead to publishing more of a variety of books and through that, maybe the quality of books in general will be raised. 

I still prefer published titles as a whole, but I think it's unfair to say that self-published books in general are books that aren't good enough to be published through traditional methods because they're all of a lesser quality. What Indies are doing is changing the industry, and it might even end up to be for the better. 

Thanks for reading! 


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    Picnics poetry is looking for publisher who can give ideas for educators on teaching poetry, make a career, voice your opinion in fun and interesting ways.

  2. This is such a smart response to that article. (Which, by the way, we read and really enjoyed.) As you said, one way is not necessarily/inherently better than the other, and hopefully the two systems coexisting will bring about positive changes for everyone involved (writers, readers, publishers).

    Below we love most about this post is how you have brought the conversation around to blogging, and bloggers, and how indie publishing affects them, and how indie publishing is similar to them. You've made some very astute observations, and we appreciate your sharing them. :)

  3. Great post! Thank you. As a reader and blogger, I desire quality control. I have turned away from self-published books because there are so many works out there that haven't been edited. I do see a difference between self-published and independently published, or Indie. To me, indie means a boutique publisher who's not one of the Big Six. From what I've seen, depending on the indie of course, indie publishers follow the same conventions as large publishing houses, they simply don't have the budget or the same number of years in the business.

    Self published, to me, is someone who published under their own name or created a company name to publish under. With them, I want to see which editors they worked with (preferably an accredited one whose services they hired, rather than a friend, a fellow writer, or a family member.) I've had friends, fellow writers and authors, critique partners, and professional editors all review my work.

    As a writer, I learned from all of them. Without a doubt, all of them are needed. I am most grateful to my publisher (a small boutique press) for their insistence on quality-control. As a reader, I a grateful to anyone who respects me enough to give me a high-quality book. I'm always willing to pay for quality :)


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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