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Some Saturday Morning Thoughts

Last Tuesday, I posted “Publish or Perish or be Condemned“. For those of you who haven’t read it, it was basically a post giving my take on someone else’s condemnation of those of us who self-publish or publish through small and micro presses because we are, according to this person, killing literature. I wasn’t the only one to have problems being told we were not as good as those authors who were published by “real” publishers because we haven’t paid our dues and didn’t benefit from “real” editors, etc.

I’ll admit to being a bit surprised when the author of the original article came over to spout vitriol and spleen because we dared not agree with him. Then, as one of our commenters pointed out, his response here was pretty much verbatim what he was saying everywhere else someone pointed out how foolish his post happened to be. There was a suggestion that he might have posted such an insulting article — on a site that supposedly champions self-published authors — in order to drive traffic to the site. So I decided to wander over there today to see what sort of posts had gone up since Tuesday.

You have to go back at least three pages of posts to find the one I initially linked to back on Tuesday. If those three pages are any indication, it is clear the site doesn’t get a lot of comments per post. I doubt there were more than fifteen comments total left on at least that many posts until you get back to the post I linked to and a counter-point post by another of those who are regular contributors to the site.

Add to that the fact that the same person who penned the post I fisked followed up with another article about why the “vast majority of self-published authors will never be taken seriously”, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the premise he’d been as insulting — and I’m being nice here — as he was was simply to drive traffic to the site. And it worked, at least for a bit. And, since I have no desire to reward him for his bad behavior any further, I’m not going to link to his article, or even to the page. You can go back to my original post Tuesday if you want to follow the links.

However, I would like to point out a couple of things. First, to say most self-published authors will never be taken seriously is true. But there is a corollary to that as well: most traditionally published authors also will never be taken seriously. The truth of the matter is, no matter which method you use to get your books or stories out to the public, unless you are a best seller, most readers will never hear of you. This was true before e-books became a major player in the publishing field and before small presses and self-published authors took to the field.

Don’t believe me? Look at what Polly Courtney has to say about the difference between self-publishing and going with a traditional publisher. After successfully self-publishing two novels, she was signed by a legacy publisher and quickly learned that the so-called benefits weren’t really there. She’s gone back to self-publishing. Yes, she knows the pitfalls, but she prefers to face them with her eyes wide open and to have the control she didn’t have with the legacy publisher.

Now, ask yourself this: how many of the successful indie authors who have signed contracts with legacy publishers, especially one of the Big 6, have you heard much from since the signing?

But that’s enough of the serious. If you want to read the most scathing, funny review of a book ever, go here. It is a primer on what not to do if you are writing a romance, or any genre fiction. Now I’m off to write — after finding more coffee. You guys have a great weekend and check back tomorrow to see what the Mad Geniuses are up to.

 

20 Comments
  1. People seeking attention will do all sorts of unsavory things. If they can use a hot-button to draw such notice, they will. Disconnecting was wise and driving traffic to deserving sites praise-worthy. Good job, Amanda.

    June 22, 2013
    • Thanks, Dar.

      June 22, 2013
  2. “Now, ask yourself this: how many of the successful indie authors who have signed contracts with legacy publishers, especially one of the Big 6, have you heard much from since the signing?”

    Quote of the Month.

    June 22, 2013
    • Precious few. The other difference Amanda didn’t mention is that it’s much more likely you’ll make a living with a small audience if you go indie.
      Long tail, baby, long tail.

      June 22, 2013
      • And if you keep putting out work for them to buy. That’s the kicker. You have to “grow” that tail before you can swish it.

        June 22, 2013
    • Snicker.

      But seriously, how many have we heard about? Part of the problem is the time lag between signing a “real” publishing contract and getting a book out and part is that these authors don’t get the push they think they will. The ones I hear the most about are those who, like the one mentioned in the post today, have returned to self-publishing or small press publishing.

      June 22, 2013
  3. Larry Correia, Then again he went with Baen, not the same thing

    June 22, 2013
    • Very much not the same thing. Plus, Larry is smart enough to know he has to do a lot of promotion even with Baen.

      June 22, 2013
  4. OMG! The book review! Now I must run giggling off for a quick scan of my books to see if I have anything so insipidly brainless . . . Could we bring in Zombies? These guys would be the survivors, on account of being so unappetizing . . .

    June 22, 2013
    • LOLOL. I’m almost tempted to get the book just so we can add it to the list of books that must be mentioned in workshops as what not to do.

      June 22, 2013
    • OMG, go to Amazon and read the sample. I dare you to get through the first paragraph without either laughing or wanting to toss your kindle/computer across the room. Seriously. Go read the sample.

      June 22, 2013
    • This one sounds truly terrible. I’m afraid to go read the sample. (Well, not really.)

      Mind you, I reviewed a book over at SBR about a year ago where I said the protagonist mostly was notable for how much testosterone he had, and nothing else. (Basically everything this man did made either no sense, or he was being led around by his nether parts. Either way, he wasn’t much.) I also pointed out that the heroine deserved better.

      It does make me wonder why books like this are being put out by major publishers. (The writing otherwise in this particular book was decent and as it was a steampunk romance, the actual steampunk stuff was good. I did say that. I try not to just ding writers if I can help it.) Do they think everyone’s IQ is less than 40 or something?

      And finally — there have been some times at my life where I’ve been too tired, upset, or what-have-you where the only thing I could concentrate on was series romances. But there are some *very* good novelists working in that field who don’t get paid much money who really do write well — good plots, good dialogue, good action, sometimes rising into excellent plots with excellent dialogue and excellent action. So these plots *can* be done well — just not when the writer (or worse, the publisher) assumes that everyone is just too dumb to understand what’s going on and needs to be led about by the hand, as that’s when we get these ridiculously convoluted plots inspired by bad soap operas.

      Most of these good novelists are people I hope will re-issue their work independently, providing their rights ever revert.

      June 24, 2013
  5. walter daniels #

    Sarah, If you’re talking about Author’s Paradise, they have a lot of really good material. Some against “self-publishing,” and a great deal for it. I rarely comment there, as I can be freer on my FB feed. _If_ you’re talking abiout “the good ereader,” he/she’s still stuck on “self-pub” is a new name for Vanity publishing. IOW, “Self-publishers” don’t have the imprimatur of the publishing houses.” My response to that, as well as Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s trsvails, are all one part. “How much C–P comes out of Hollyweird, and loses money, because it’s viewed only in desperation?” In both cases, you have a self appointed *small* group deciding what other people want, and refusing to learn from their failures.
    From what I’ve heard/been told, *1%* of movies “make money,” and 5-10% of books support the rest of the “imprint.” Any other business with that low a ROI could not last, for long.
    Of course, (as Robert Sturgeon said) 90% of everything is crap.But, if that means sifting through 100 crappy book, to find the 10 good ones, to me, it’s worth it. Good e-reader strikes me as a “kill 100 innocent people, in order to make sure that the guilty *one* is punished.” Of course, making sure that he isn’t one of the innocent 100. After all, he’s one of the “elite,” and should be protected. Well, to me, Good ereader is one of the trash to be ignored, or gloried in getting a “bad” review from.

    June 22, 2013
    • Walter, I was referring to the latter — I don’t want to send any more traffic there than i already have. And your response — as well as Kris’s — is pretty much mine. But then I add in the fact that if you are buying your e-book from a site like Amazon, you can download a sample to see what you’re getting. If a reader fails to do that, well, they carry part of the burden for reading “bad” literature as much as the author for putting it up for sale.

      But let’s be real here. Most of those who are just throwing stuff up will soon get tired of doing it and not making money. Writing is work. Most folks want a return for the investment of time. That will be part of the winnowing process. Readers are also getting better educated to the process of finding e-books they like. They look at reviews and at publisher names as well as downloading samples.

      Frankly, I see a lot more “good” writing and editing coming out of indie and small press books right now than I do the stuff coming from legacy publishers. I guess that’s why the guy bothered me so.

      June 22, 2013
    • Er… she’s not Sarah πŸ™‚ Though you’re forgiven. My husband says he has to check the byline to see which one of us wrote the story or the blog post. (We’re twins. Her being a head taller than I and redheaded it’s a ruse. Her parents sold me to Portuguese gypsies. REALLY πŸ˜‰ )

      June 22, 2013
  6. Synova #

    I think this relates to self publishing. Went to the Abuquerque Comic Expo (total attendance 10K or so) today for a couple hours and ran into a local author I’ve seen before who works really hard promoting his books. He and another fellow had a table in the exhibition hall. He’s got a publisher now, and the other guy is self-publishing and had 5 ‘military thriller’ books in a series and a couple of others. Both of these guys were sitting there with a stack of paper books. I know a couple of other authors that do this same sort of promotion, buying a “dealer” table at a convention or craft show or whatever.

    On the one hand I think that it must work, right? Who would keep doing something for years if it didn’t work?

    But I know how I behave as a consumer. I hesitate to approach the table because I really don’t have money and, socially, I feel great pressure to buy a book once I’ve interacted with the author as a person. If it was my favorite author in the whole world and a volume that I couldn’t get elsewhere I’d probably squee and start counting pennies. But it’s not. What I think that *I* would respond well to is books on a table (“Look at how many books I have, they are real books with paper and everything, someone must like my work, come talk to me about it.”) and a card or bookmark to give out that had a list of e-book vendors that showed where to get the first crack-hit… I mean book… either free or for $2.99 or a novella or sample or *something*. Even if it was always free or really cheap the card could say something loosely implying it was a convention special so I’d feel like I was getting a special deal. And then I could say hi, and talk, and take the card, and feel happy about a promise to check it out and all the little social pressures that make me not want to approach the table would be taken care of too.

    There are going to be a few people who want a signed paper book when they go to a convention, but this is the self-promotion that would work with me.

    June 22, 2013
    • From what I can tell, buying a table unless you already have a following or you have no qualms calling out to folks and trying to get them to come talk to you and maybe buy your book doesn’t really work. What you have to remember is that you have more expense there (usually) than just the cost of the table. Most publishers now don’t provide authors with books to sell. Oh, you may get a few author’s copies, but not enough to go traipsing around the country to cons to sell them. So the author has to buy them. (Some publishers also don’t give authors a discount, or at least not much of one, one their books.) If you are self-published, how much you have to pay for your books depends on what service you are using to print them. Add in the cost of the con, etc., and it is almost always a losing proposition.

      You may have questions/concerns about how to act as a fan, but think about what you have to do as an author. I’m not comfortable asking folks to buy my book when they don’t know anything about it. Maybe, if they ask questions and we start talking about it and they show some interest, I’d gather the courage to ask if they’d like to buy a copy. But, more often than not, I’d probably just give it to them and ask them to post a review after they’ve read it and to recommend it to their friends if they liked it.

      But I’m weird and that’s just me.

      June 22, 2013
      • Synova #

        Oh, I agree. That’s why I was thinking that one way to actually make (potential) exposure to that many people work for the author wasn’t to sell the books on the table but to work a promotion to get people to read a free e-book or significant sample on a web site after they got home. The guy self-publishing the military thrillers looked like a character and I was *interested*… just not enough to spend money sight unseen. (At least in a bookstore you can stand and read the first four pages or open to the middle or something.)

        Maybe it would still be a bad waste of time and effort to buy a table at a convention but people do like the personal touch *and* they like free stuff and giving away book one and selling book two would be selling one book instead of no books. Hopefully it would be giving away book one and selling books two through five.

        Granted, I’ve no idea if either of these guys have ebooks. When self-publishing started it was all hard-copy trade paperbacks. Maybe they’re just stuck 5 years in the past.

        June 22, 2013
        • Synova #

          Which is sort of heartbreaking.

          June 22, 2013
          • A lot of people are, yeah. Weirdly the self published before ebooks have MORE trouble transitioning to the e-world.

            June 22, 2013

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