Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Discussion Point – Would You Read A Self Published Book

 

A few month ago in my hunt for something new to read – that elusive book that just call to me, I found out that self published authors are not favoured by quite a few bloggers.

After hunting around for awhile I could not really find a reason for this. Some of the obvious things jumped out at me right away as the reasons why – editing, quality, plot, construct, cost, cost cost – these reason I could not believe were the sole reason for blogger not wanting to try some new and more often than not exciting authors.

I have ask two self published authors that I have had the pleasure of reading their books this year to answer five questions for me, about why they self published and the pro’s and the con’s from an authors point of you.

This is where you guys come in – if you do read self published author why, did you even know they were self published. If you don’t, pleased tell me why.

The first voice up is Rebecca  J. Vickery. For those of you who have been long standing lurkers and followers, you will know she is a special find for me this year. I spotted her name on Ning this year, even before she was publish – her pitch called to me and every month until she was released I updated my self on her progress – and I am so not regretting it.

Here are the books she has out in print and reviews

Surviving With Love - Review

Into The Mist - Review

Following Destiny - Review 

Why did you decide to self publish? 

For me self-publishing was an obvious choice as I have been self-employed for years and enjoy doing things my way. This started as an addition to traditional publishing, but I am enjoying it so well it would take an extremely good offer to lure me away. I made this choice after two bad experiences with more traditional forms of publishing. I saw several things I wanted to do differently with my work and as the majority of marketing and promotion were already on my shoulders, I decided to give it a go. 

 

· Pros of self publishing?

The largest pro for self-publishing is having control of my work. I don’t write to a formula or have to fit a certain publisher’s niche. I don’t have to accept changes from a too busy editor who doesn’t get my point or artwork that doesn’t depict my story. I also don’t have to wait months or years to get my story out to the readers. I choose the editor, the cover artist, and I have absolute final say on all aspects of my work. I make a much larger percentage of the royalties and therefore can sell my books at a better price. And with new options offered by the owners of Smashwords, CreateSpace, and Amazon along with several other self-publishers in the business, I have technical help and advice whenever I need it.

 

· Cons of Self publishing?

The cons of self-publishing for me include not having the support group a publishing company provides, bearing all the expense, and the stigma still incorrectly attached to self-published authors. I miss the chats and advice from folks in publishing who know more about this business than I will ever learn and many authors won’t self-publish just because it’s like standing out on a cliff edge all alone. It can also get expensive to hire editors, artists, purchase ISBNs for your books, and pay to get them in print if you want to go that route. Then there are the snubs and discriminatory opinions you have to face every day. Several better known review sites, blogs, and groups do not allow self-published authors to participate. This is pretty much the same thing EBook authors faced when digital publishing started.

 

· why do you think there is this image problem with self published books?

I feel the image problem comes first from programmed thinking. We’ve been programmed to think that the only “right way” or acceptable means to get published is through a large publisher and the book has to be in print. EBook authors still face this one all the time, but it is even worse for self-published authors. For years self-published authors were said to be self-published because their work was not good enough. Their books were considered inferior due to lack of proper editing, poor or nonexistent cover art, and very few markets were available for their work. In today’s society, I believe many large and small press publishers and writers’ organizations tend to promote those old views and the resulting stigma due to fear of losing control of the industry and revenue. But it is up to the readers and authors to get past the discrimination and check out self-published authors for themselves. Many people don’t realize several famous writers began as self-published authors. 

 

· Would you have done it any other way and Why?

I wish things could have worked out better in either of my more traditional publishing efforts and I would have remained a part of that aspect of the business. But, I think I would have tried self-publishing as an option with some of my books at some point. It just happened sooner than I anticipated. I will continue to submit to traditional means of publishing with some of my work in the future when the right opportunity comes along. So for me, self-publishing isn’t an either/or choice but an additional option. But I do love self-publishing and can’t see myself giving up the control and creative freedom for at least some of my books.

 

 

 

Michele Montgomery:

The next voice on this post is Michele Montgomery – Yes she of River Of Tears fame…. Michele is solely self published and she found me and she now has a faithful follower. After not reading any sort of emotional book for a long long time, I took a chance a few weeks ago and read her release – it was so good, so good.

Michele is not shy about sharing her opinion on why she has gone the route of self publishing. Read on for what she has to say…

 River Of Tears Review

 

. Why did you decide to self publish?

Once I completed writing River of Tears I honestly had no idea what to do with it. All I knew was that I had finally completed a manuscript that I felt was worthy of attention. Ever since I can remember I wanted to be an author. I wanted to see my name on the cover of a published book. I wanted to see my words on the inside of the shiny covers. I wanted to see other people reading the words that came from my soul. So, the only thing to do then was to get it published.

I had no idea how to get my manuscript published so I started doing research and what I found sure opened my eyes. I even spoke to a few different authors and they all said the same things. I came across several web sites that backed up what they said. Did I want to lose the rights to my book? Did I want to take a chance and hope that I could find an agent that would work hard to find a home for a new writer's works, as hard as I had worked on River of Tears? Did I want to wait years to see River of Tears in print? Did I want someone else, who doesn't even know me, call the shots on how something was written in the book? I answered no to all of that. Self Publishing to me meant a chance to break into the writers world, a chance to be seen. Now it means so much more, especially the more I speak to known authors and their reasons for turning to self publishing themselves. Imagine being lucky enough that you find an agent to represent you, then them not being able to sell your book, or them forgetting about it. Never mind the fact that most new writers manuscripts actually end up at the bottom of the growing submissions and never are read. Publishers just aren't willing to take a chance with new writers especially with the economic problems today. I know of an author who's publisher "forgot" to distribute her book! What?

 

. Pros of self publishing?

1-I'm in control of the book

2- I work at my own pace

3- I keep all my revenue

4- I can get my book printed and have it ready to sell very quickly.

5- I have total control over the cover design and title.

6- No one can tell me to edit anything out.

7- My time and effort go into marketing and promoting the book instead of chasing a publisher.

 

. Cons of Self publishing?

1- Distribution is limited as large bookstore chains for the most part do not accept self-published books. Bookstores do not generally deal directly with authors. No matter how good your book is. If it’s not in the bookshop then everything is for naught.

2- Most reviewers won't review books that are self-published.

3- You won’t get the recognition that comes with being accepted by a respected publisher.

4- Many readers will not give a self published book a second look.

5- Finding a good editor to guide, correct, and hold your hand through the process isn't as easy as one would think. (I got VERY lucky and found one I trust with all my heart…of course after I published River of Tears.)

 

. Why do you think there is this image problem with self-published books?

I believe that because in the past many writers didn't bother to edit their works many books became a let down for the reader, and because self-published books are more expensive it just added to the fear. People can't believe there can be a fantastic story between the covers of a self published book if a major player didn't publish it. A form of brainwashing is how I see it. If New York or London didn't print it and back it, it must not be any good. Many self published authors can't afford to take ads out in magazines and newspapers to announce the release of a new book. Sadly, some books that have been self published never made it to the editors desk due to cost, and it's like everything else, one bad apple, and all that.

 

. Would you have done it any other way and Why?..

Nope. I plan on self publishing a series very soon. I have two of the four ready now. As long as there are INDI groups that support Independent writers, as long as there are book reviewers willing to pay attention to a self published author, I will keep on. I like the control I have with my books. I like the fact that what I publish is all me, not the thoughts of someone else in a traditional setting telling me I need to change this and that of the plot to fit their needs.

Did you know that there are many well-known self-published writers that have had enduring success? Consider Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Margaret Atwood.

There is no one right way to get a book into print. However, I don't want to wait up to 18 months to see it happen.

 

Bottom line

That is the two ladies giving you their personal opinion on the matter of self publishing. As a reader where do you stand with the books you buy. Must it always be from a publishing house or have you taken a chance like myself and found that little gem.

Let me know what you think – if you have questions please also toss them out on comment – Rebecca and Michele will answer as much as they can.

 

 

25 Speak To Me:

Kris on 25 November 2009 at 23:01 said...

When you first mentioned that some bloggers had problems with self-publishing a little while ago, EH, I must admit that I was totally confuzzled.

I work in a field where there is a lot of self-publishing and I know that there are a number of checks and balances that an author can put in place to ensure the quality control of their work.

In this age of digital publishing I would think that self-publishing would be ideal and the norm more than anything else. The negative reaction therefore seems a little strange to me.

And, let's face it, a number of the well known epublishers such as Torquere, Loose Id, Ellora's Cave, etc, etc all had authors involved in either their conception or as owners. Be a bit hypocritical to now say that self-publishing is not the way to go, wouldn't you think??

Anna on 26 November 2009 at 00:00 said...

Yes I would and I have before. As long as it's something that interests me I don't mind.

Chris on 26 November 2009 at 00:23 said...

Hmm, aren't a number of the PsyCop books basically self-published by Jordan Castillo Price via JCP Books? The quality was exceptional, so I know that self-publishing can be done well by the right person.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB on 26 November 2009 at 00:32 said...

I am at this point as an author deciding between traditional publishing, epublishing or self-publishing. I would love to hear more tales of successful self published authors.

Thanks so much for this post!

Erotic Horizon on 26 November 2009 at 00:45 said...

Hey Kris..

I totally agree with you - that's why I was confuzzled as well that something that has so much area for more than adequate checks and balances was getting such bad press...

I look forward to see where 2010 take this aspect of the romance industry...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 26 November 2009 at 00:48 said...

@Anna..

I can understand that - Both Rebecca's and Michele's and a few others that I have read recently are areas that I knew and enjoy to some degree and I was more than impress with the quality of work that I read...

Wish more bloggers would highlight this sector...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 26 November 2009 at 00:50 said...

Hey Chirs...

Jordan Castillo Price has done it and made it work for her.

I have only read a few - but I agree they are exceptional... a real credit to her for doing HER thing with this series..

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 26 November 2009 at 00:53 said...

@Katiebabs

I wish you all the best with whatever you decide on..

All I will say however is, explore all the avenues available and see what is best for YOU and how much of YOU do you want to give up...

Just emailing around for the past few days - I am actually surprised at how many feel pushed into self publishing rather than a graduall decision...


E.H>

Moriah Jovan on 26 November 2009 at 00:57 said...

I have.

In fact, self-pub is starting to make up about half my reading material.

Admittedly, I hang out with the self-pub crowd who are good writers and savvy that way, too, so I might have an extraordinarily good pool to draw from.

Do the Math Phil Persinger @ppersinger

Waiting for Spring RJ Keller @rjkeller

Magdala Valerie Gross

The Ugly Princess Elizabeth K Burton @zumayabooks Although I don't know if she counts because she owns a successful digipub, but started out self-publishing.

Bleep Alessia Brio, but again...they set up their own little house.

Eva Gale: Hysteria, 101 Degrees Fahrenheit, The Seduction of Gabriel Stewart

Kept Zoe Winters

Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander Ann Herendeen This was self-published and Harper picked it up, so this is the big pub's version. Ann told me they didn't change that much.

The only two self-published books I DIDN'T like didn't have anything to do with the writing or the production values.

The first one, I thought the hero was an asshole, even by my lenient alpha asshole standards.

The second one has gotten rave reviews everywhere, but I couldn't finish it because I really couldn't buy into the narrator, what she knew, when she knew it, and how.

Right now I'm in the middle of:

Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder

All high-quality writing and editing and good production values.

There's a whole community full of awesome writers who choose to self-publish.

Moriah Jovan on 26 November 2009 at 00:59 said...

I am actually surprised at how many feel pushed into self publishing rather than a gradual decision...

That's interesting. Are you free to expound on that a little?

Heather Massey on 26 November 2009 at 01:05 said...

Great post.

I would try a self-published book if a)it's a genre I like and b)I'm aware of the author because she actively participates in online forums/communities related to the genre and/or I heard about her through word-of-mouth/recommendations from sources I trust. Eh, not so different from how I usually make a decision on which book to purchase.

I'm all for a good story regardless of source, especially since I enjoy niche genres like science fiction romance and mainstream print publishers can't always cater to readers like me.

However, I'm assuming the author has a quality story to offer (i.e., it's not riddled with typos/grammatical errors/continuity issues). Like any book I'm thinking about purchasing, I'd like to have an excerpt available (first few pages or so at least) so I can judge the writing. I believe self-published works can have just as high a quality as traditionally published works, but the onus is on the author to prove it since she may not have access to editors/beta readers.

TheChicGeek on 26 November 2009 at 01:46 said...

Hi EH :) You sure like to mix it up here...LOL Your blog looks different but still FABULOUS!!!

I am on vacation but I wanted to stop and wish you a Super Happy Thanksgiving!
Have a wonderful Day!
Hugs and Love,
Kelly
xxO :)

The_Book_Queen on 26 November 2009 at 01:49 said...

You know, I'm really glad you brought this up!

I'll be honest-- I've never read a self-published book, but NOT because I have any problems regarding it. I've simply not had the opportunity to buy/receive such a book!

I think it's ridiculous that such a stigma has been placed on self-published books, and the fact that so many judge a book's success and how good it is on how big of a publisher prints and promotes it. Sadly, I know it happens, and I wish we could get past that.

If I saw a book that sounded like something I'd normally read, I wouldn't let the fact that it's self-published stand in my way of buying it.

I'll have to keep my eyes out for more this next year, but since, as it's brought up, most bookstores won't buy SP books, it'll be harder for me to find some, at least right away. I'll have to do some searching though! Especially for the Rebecca and Michele, since your reviews on their novels captured my attention. :D

Enjoy!
TBQ

Michele L Montgomery on 26 November 2009 at 02:06 said...

Hi All,
I just wanted to add a little something as a reader, not an author/writer, about this topic.

First I do want to thank E.H. for taking the extra steps-- to not only review an INDI author but to actually jump up and bring attention to the matter. KUDOS to you!!

As a reader: Before I decided to publish my manuscript I had no idea there was such a thing as a self published book. I'm not kidding you. I never looked at who published it, printed it or anything like that. I just read the covers and a few pages to see if I'd like it and if it looked interesting, it was as good as mine. I read because I love to get lost in another world, in the characters worlds, not to pick the authors apart.

Perhaps too many are over analyzing, and not giving the INDI author a chance to shine. Personally, I don't care if an author printed his/her books in their basement. As long as there is a plot with a purpose and characters to love and or hate, I'm going to read it. A story is a story.

I even promise to over look that missed comma. Just please don't forget your characters names....

Smokinhotbooks on 26 November 2009 at 03:13 said...

This is interesting, as a blogger I couldn't car less if a book is self published. I think for me, the only issue would be trust in the editing - other than that I'm game.

Andi on 26 November 2009 at 04:36 said...

Great topic, EH!

I absolutely have no qualms with buying a book that is self published. I've read several books that were self published, and I liked and enjoyed them greatly.
Matthew Haldeman-Time is one of my favorite authors. He's written several books that is self published. Love them all.
It's unfair that the authors that go this route don't get the recognition they deserve.
I was surprised to see that reviewers won't review a self published book. I think that's ridiculous!
(I know you do, EH, that's because you're awesome!)
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone:)

Erotic Horizon on 26 November 2009 at 08:04 said...

Hey Moriah... (love the name)

Thanks for the extensive list of books for all to give a try.... I do try quite a bit of the Smashword freee read ..

It gives me a quick bite of an authors style...

Self pub makes up about a third of my reading list so far - hoping to extend that a bit more in the future...


As for my opinion on the phrase.... email me at erotichorizon@googlemail.com to get MY views on this.

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 26 November 2009 at 08:08 said...

Heather...

I'm all for a good story regardless of source, especially since I enjoy niche genres like science fiction romance and mainstream print publishers can't always cater to readers like me:

Beautifully said - this was what pushed me toward self pubs a few years ago... I am not the easiest of reader to cater for...


I would like to think that most people use the same benchmark as yourself to find a genuinely good read and in turn a genuinely good author...


Thanks for chipping in...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 26 November 2009 at 08:12 said...

Hey Kell's...

I did some re-decorating over here... glad you like it..

From me to you and family and Maggie the wonder dog from across the pond
Happy Thanksgiving...

There is so much to be thankful for this year...

See you when you get back from vacation....


E.H>

Marissa on 26 November 2009 at 08:18 said...

I don't really care, if I like the blurb of the story and find it interesting enough to read I buy it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Erotic Horizon on 26 November 2009 at 08:30 said...

Hey TBQ..

I must admit I came across my first self pub at a car boot sale years ago and little by little I realise there was a whole world of authors out there that I was missing out on..

The stigma in some respect is understandable, but for people who read you would think a bit more of us would be objectice and forward thinking not to mention realistic to know that the people are out there to make self pub on par if not better in some cases to books that have a publishing house behind them...


Looking forward to seeing what you find in the coming year...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 26 November 2009 at 08:34 said...

Michele

Thanks and well said.

I wonder if I would have made the decision to self publish if I wrote - as that is such a big risk...

I can see the task KB has ahead of her...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 26 November 2009 at 11:11 said...

Hey KC..

The editing is a big factor to a lot of readers - however with critique partners and more than decent editors - quite alot of that problem has been minimized....

E.H>

Jenna Byrnes on 26 November 2009 at 14:47 said...

Self publishing would be scary for me. It's hard enough to make a book go when you have the backing of a publisher. However, Leigh Ellwood and Alessia Brio are making it work, but they've been with Phaze for years and have an understanding of the system, ie. smashwords, scribd, etc.

I am envious of them for their total control, and total reaping of the profits!

Great post EH. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Jenna

Rebecca J Vickery on 26 November 2009 at 17:13 said...

Hello Everyone,
I am loving all the responses and discussion. A Big HAPPY TURKEY DAY to all of you.
I believe that we will see a shift toward self-publishing by a lot of authors who have been on the fence about this issue. With Smashwords and similar companies making it easier and easier to deal with the process and several large distributors seeing the benefits of joining in, authors who have had bad or SLOW publishing experiences may give it a try.
If you try it for one book and don't like or feel comfortable with the way it goes, there's no rule against subbing other works to a traditional publisher. I know several authors who self-publish certain works and have a publisher for others.

As to the question of why some authors may feel pushed into self-publishing, I feel the current state of the economy has a lot to do with that. Most publishers are becoming more selective about what they accept for publication as they know readers are being even more careful with their money during these tough times. Also the time from acceptance to release for many traditionally published authors is now 18 to 24 months. Authors have bills to pay too. If a book I just spent 6 months perfecting is going to have to sit that long before my first income, I have to work a separate job and spend less time writing. Many publishers are also cutting their advances (in the case of most Ebooks there are no advances) and they are trimming back on royalty percentages. (For example, the author may receive as little as 79 cents royalty for the sale of a $16 book.) Bad experiences with editors, unacceptable cover art, unfair fees and charge-backs, and contractual disputes also push many authors toward self publishing. There are great publishers out there, but be aware there are also some very unprofessional ones also.
I personally want the readers to be the judge of how good my work is and the only way I can do that is to get it out there to those readers. But we also have to spread the word about INDI Authors and what they have to offer.

Thanks for having this great discussion and I hope many more readers become aware of talented INDI Authors.