Historical and Contemporary Romance Author

Have You Ever Read a Self-Published Book?

Okay, that’s a trick subject, because this isn’t going to be a poll or a question. It’s going to be a statement of fact. I am willing to bet that everyone reading this post has either read or is extremely familiar with the story I am going to name below. I would further be willing to bet a large sum that it is this author’s best-known, most-beloved work.

But before I give you the name of the story, why does it matter? Because every time a website reviews a self-published book unfavorably, it seems there are a host of commenters who find it necessary to pop in and say, “This is why I’ll never read a self-published book. They’re all garbage!” Now, hardly ANYONE pops in with such a statement when a NY-published book gets a poor review. I’ve never seen a commenter say, “This is why I never read books from the Big 6. They’re all garbage!”

I get pretty tired of this attitude. It’s not that I don’t agree that there are a lot of bad self-published books. It’s not that I don’t think the error rate, so to speak, is higher in self-published books than in those put out by major publishing houses. It’s the nature of the beast. BUT…to tar all self-published books with the “garbage” brush because many (or even most) self-published books are bad is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are some self-published gems out there, and there always have been. The only difference between the self-publishing of today and yesteryear was that it’s now so much more affordable that almost anyone can do it. Used to be, you had to plunk down a lot of money to make a self-published book happen, which naturally limited the number of them.

Okay, so here is where I pause and add dramatic space before revealing my punchline…

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Drum Roll

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…and the self-published book I’m betting you’ve either read or know very well is…

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

2 Comments

  • Stephanie Haefner January 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Wow…very interesting! Never knew that!!

    I have read many self-pubbed books..some great, some..um…not so great. But I have also read books from small publishers that were riddled with grammar mistakes…one I recently read was so damn distracting…a mistake on nearly every page. But the story was good..I really needed to keep reading. It has turned me off that publisher though….if one book is that badly edited, it makes me wonder if they all are. And unfortunately, this sometimes happens to self-pubbed authors as well. One (or many) ruin it for the rest.

    I’ve yet to read a book from a big 6 publisher that has had tons of mistakes..the occasional typo, yeah, but not an abundance of them. That’s not to say I haven’t stopped reading for other reasons.

    Editing with a professional editor is a must for any book, no matter who’s publishing it. It’s often easy to spot a book that has had none. I think there are many self-pubbed authors out there who skip this important step. Unfortunately, it does ruin it for those who don’t.

    Reply
  • Desiree Hamill February 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    After caving in and buying a Kindle a year ago, I’ve read tons of independently published books. Mainly, the books were published via Amazon. Some have been free, others reasonably priced. One of the biggest attractions of the self-published books is the price. I’ve found several gems among the independently published. And I’ve been turned onto some great new writers and gone on to purchase more of their books. I found this blog because I purchased your novella _The Lesson Plan_ and thoroughly enjoyed it (including its reasonable price). Consequently, I’ll be purchasing more of your work.

    The big six NY publishers are continuing to charge high prices for e-books. Especially new releases. After all, readers don’t really “own” these books. When we pay money for a digital book, we are granted the “right” to have a copy of the book on one electronic device. We can’t lend it (generally the big six houses refuse to allow this feature even though it only allows a single lending) give it away, or resell it. Sometimes it seems the only benefit we get with a book published by a large house is that it is actually edited for grammatical mistakes. Certainly, some of the stories and the quality of the writing is no better than the independently published books I’ve read recently.

    It seems that the big publishers are determined to be dinosaurs, bound to shrink and fade away like many of the music production companies did when music went digital. The future of books is digital. Yet NY publishers want to retain a pricing structure for books that had to be printed, stored, distributed, etc…while withholding the readers’ freedom to share their books with family and friends, to withhold actual ownership of the book. I hope that the new markets created by digital books will create not only a resurgence in more authors writing and publishing, but a robust return of the small publishing houses which brought less well-known and non-block-buster writers to market.

    Individuals who shun all independently published books are passing on many great reads. I suspect much of this attack on independently published books is motivated/fueled by the panicked resistance of NY publishers to the changes happening in the book world–and the power and money they are losing. Now that Barnes and Noble has teamed up with the Big Six against Amazon, I anticipate a lot more bitter attacks.

    p.s. My own bias is against B & N and some of the big publishers that essentially destroyed both independent bookstores and many good small presses with their selling tactics and contracts a decade ago. While I don’t like to see one company dominate anything as Amazon appears to be doing, it’s somewhat vindicating to see B & N and NY publishers experience the other end of the swing. Independent publishing is good for both writers and readers, who’ve been at the mercy of the corporate book makers and sellers for more than ten years.

    Reply

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