Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Thoughts on Self-Publishing

I'm reading a book by a local author that she self-published and I'm discovering that this book is one of the reasons people shy away from self-published books. I won't name the author or the book; you probably wouldn't find it near you anyway.

This writer had a good idea for a mystery and I love the fact that it is set in this area. I can recognize not only local places but some of her characters are of a type I recognize. Two, in fact, are people I know, and the author has simply changed something about them. For instance, she made one woman heavier and older but she has the same job in the book that she has in real life.

The problem is in the telling of the story. Too much detail, as in having a character walk into an office where she has an appointment and we go through introductions, description of the office and the people, etc. before we finally get down to the business of the appointment. The woman is from New York City and at first is consistently negative about moving here, then she is frightened by the remoteness of the house they buy since she will be alone during the week, and finally she grows a spine and decides she has to solve the mystery of a murder that happened there. The realtor doesn't want to sell the house which has been empty for years and her personality is too obvious, too exaggerated.

Maybe the author heard the same thing I did when I moved here. Locals told me that if you wanted to commit a murder, you should do it here because you would certainly get away with it. One of the murders they told me about has since gone to trial and the murderer convicted, but the other one (if it really happened) is still a cold case and not being investigated. Never was, in fact. The murder in the story happened ten years ago and is still unsolved, but everyone suspects one man.

Anyway, I'm still reading the book because I feel like I need to give it more of a chance, but I resent the fact that this kind of book makes it more difficult for other self-publishers to sell good books. I self-published one of my own books because it had a limited audience and wouldn't sell enough copies for a publisher to take it on. It's a hard way to get your work out in the marketplace even though it is more common now than it has ever been. I was hoping that this was one I could help publicize but . . .


  1. Have you tried out the Kindle software program for the PC, Barbara? I read a lot of Kindle books now, and what I tend to do these days is download the sample first. If the sample grabs me, I get the book. I can't tell you how many books I've avoided because of this! And I've found quite a few good reads, too.

  2. Okay, you see this is why I started turning down self-published review requestors. I feel, bad, but I just can't take on more requests unless I am pretty sure I'll enjoy the book.

  3. I'm turning down self-published books too, just like Diane. I hate wasting my reading time on something I probably won't like. And then I hate trashing a book on my blog. Some people will say that's not being honest but I look at it as a matter of politeness. I suspect that's what you are doing by not telling us the name of the book and author. In the case of a local book like this one, I think it would be fun to see how the people and places fared. I like that the author made one of the people heavier. I'll be it's someone the author doesn't like.

  4. I own a NOOK so I can download 'borrowable' books from our library, but I use both the Nook and Kindle apps on my computer - and I agree with Belle that it saves a lot a grief to be able to read a sample first.

    I am very sensitive about self-pubs. I have someone in my family struggling to get what I think is a very good book published, so I know the amount of love and labor that goes into writing. But I still tend to trust the big publishing house (or at least the indies). If they don't want to take it on, I probably don't want to either. That doesn't mean it's not a good book, or that there isn't an audience out there someplace, it just means I'm probably not going to be the person to give it the glowing reviews self pubs have to have if they're going to make it. So I usually says 'no thanks'

  5. Belle, That's a good idea. This one just appealed to me because I saw a local author sticker on the spine at the library. I did finish it and it was such a good story, too bad she didn't have the benefit of a good editor, and for that matter, a proofreader.

    Diane, I understand completely. There are simply too many books that book lovers like us want to read to waste time with losers. But I'm soft hearted so I decided to try it. Sometimes you will discover a new author that you stick with.

  6. Margot, That's exactly why I didn't name the book or author. No reason to hurt her feelings. I wonder if you're right about why she made one woman heavier. Too funny.

    Tina, It is certainly safer to turn them all down. I just worry about all the really good self-published books that can't get bloggers to give them the publicity they so desperately need. Collectively, we have a lot of clout as to what people read, and BUY. I wish your relative a lot of luck because that's unfortunately what it takes.