Self-publishing and the reader.

Front cover and Textblock (book binding)

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A few days ago I was sent a review request from a self-published author, I won’t tell you the book title because I want to leave that for my review. It got me thinking about authors who self-publish and the effect knowing a book is self published has on a readers perceptions of it before they read it. Personally I get quite interested in the idea of reading self published books simply because I think if someone has worked that hard to get their work published then they deserve some recognition, and I always hope that I will come across that one book which is a gem and really should have been published.

When I started thinking about the perception of readers my first thought was that most readers would look negatively on self-published books. I can see why, if publishers and agents didn’t see the good in a book (and lets face it some awful books have been published, and successful – *cough* Twilight *cough*) then how could readers hope to see it? Having said that the publishing industry is a commercial industry, it needs to make money, and maybe sometimes that means publishers don’t take risks, and maybe that means they are missing out on some fantastic books. Certainly authors talk of how long it took them to get published, including one of today’s most popular authors, J.K Rowling (of Harry Potter fame). Then there are the tales of popular books which started off as self-published books, The Shack by William P Young, Eragon by Christopher PaoiliniStill Alice by Lisa Genova and Necromancer by GP Taylor are amongst the most well known but there are more. They can count themselves amoung some classical greats, Virginia Woolf, William Blake, James Joyce, E. E. Cummings, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence,  Edgar Allan Poe,  George Bernard Shaw, and Mark Twain were all originally self-published and their writings still live on.  So maybe actually some self-published books are better than some successful company published books, after all some gainned similar popularity without the type of marketing that goes into lots of books published by publishing houses.

Indeed the road for a self-published author is littered with difficulties. I respect people who do it despite the problems. They must have real faith in their stories to go through it all (which may sometimes be misplaced, but lets give them the benefit of the doubt). It’s not something I could do, I don’t have enough faith in my own writing to spend all that money, time and effort to publish it, and just imagine how much harder it would be if something you had invested so much in was just never bought? So that’s the emotional difficulties, what’s next? Oh yeah getting your books actually in the stores. Online is easiest, for amazon e-books you simply have to upload your books but for Waterstones you need an ISBN, an approved publisher and to have your book listed with Neilson BookData, to have your book in Waterstones stores though they need a copy of your book to review and even if they do choose to sell it instore it might not be all stores. It’s easy to sell e-books at borders too, but paper books are another matter.Then of course there is actually getting that book sold in numbers, marketing takes more money and time, and it could be really difficult to get to the levels of publishing houses, especially if stores aren’t taking your book- no book tours.

So maybe us bloggers are the best people to be supporting self-published authors? We aren’t going to judge on whether we think a book will have mass appeal, just if it appeals to us, and if we love a book we can be its biggest champions.

Do you read self-published novels? Why? Have you found any gems out there? Do you think self-publishing is a viable option?

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5 Comments

Filed under Musings

5 responses to “Self-publishing and the reader.

  1. Kim Morgan

    I think you raise a good point, and I found that your viewpoint made me think about how I view self-published books. I think it’s entirely worth considering that so many great books got their start as self-published.

    In my experience, they suffer from a lack of good editing and the perspective that comes from having an exacting editor and second (and third and fourth) set of eyes look over the work. On the other hand, it’s likely not going to be something that’s been hacked out over the course of a month or two. It’s a labor of love.

  2. Lucybird

    I suppose the average person doesn’t know 3 or 4 editors, although they may know people who have a decent grasp of English.

    Glad you liked the post 🙂

  3. Great topic!

    I’m guilty of looking down on self-published books. It’s not that I think all books published commercially are of good merit or should have been published – there’s our subjective opinions on books and then there’s sheer crap – but self-published books do tend to suffer for want of an editor and a proof-reader. I haven’t read many though.

    A lot of them sadly haven’t put in the time and effort with their story that they would have had to with an editor working with them, who isn’t emotionally attached to certain characters or scenes and who can say, this scene should be cut or this character needs some fleshing-out or this plot line doesn’t make sense. (I find myself wishing a lot of commercially-published books had had better editing too though, so it’s not just self-published books that have that trouble is it.) They may have worked on their story for some time, but I also think not every story written is a good story just for having been written 😉

    But like I say, I’m a bit of a snob I guess, and maybe too cynical. I have written books and after a few years you can look at them and say, well, it was a great experience and helped my writing really develop, but wow what a mess! But at the time, it’s your baby. Doesn’t make it worth self-publishing though …

  4. Lucybird

    I think I am overly critical of my own writing, and I’m probably a bit more accepting of self-publishers because I expect people to have the same view of themselves as I do, which is obviously not true otherwise nobody would self-publish!

    I do think that they probably have less editing though, even if just because they don’t have an editing team behind them

  5. Pingback: 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards | Winners and Finalists | The Independent Publishing Magazine

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