1. datahound2u
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    datahound2u Member

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    Is This to be Expected?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by datahound2u, Jan 8, 2016.

    I recently purchased a book from the Kindle Store because I like the premise. I paid just over $5 for the novel. I'm almost halfway through it, and even though I am enjoying the story, I feel somewhat offended that there are SO many SPAG problems throughout! Admittedly, this novel is by an author I've never heard of (which really isn't that unusual), but the cover art looked professionally done.

    I'm going to take a wild guess that this book was self-published. I couldn't find any copyright or publishing information inside it.

    Are there a lot of books like this out there, published, with a good storyline, but quite poor in those other areas?

    I'm just surprised, and I was wondering if anyone else has had similar experiences.
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Oh, yes. I don't think I've ever read a self-published book without at least a few SPAG errors. In my experience the only unusual thing about what you describe is that it was fine in terms of storyline...

    Good reviews rarely reflect reality and are clearly written by family/friends.

    I don't buy self-published books any more.
     
  3. datahound2u
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    datahound2u Member

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    I can't remember if I read any reviews on it, but as I am now about 3/4 of the way through it, I still have to say that the story is very good.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are some great self-published books, and some great authors switching to self-publishing.

    The problem is that a lot of the great books are buried under the mountains and mountains of... not great books.

    I buy self-published books when I already know the author's work or when a respected source recommends them. That's about it.
     
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  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, there are some very well done self-published books that are as professional in terms of story, editing, cover art, etc. as anything you'll get from traditional publishers. It's just a matter of finding them. I'm happy to buy self-published books if I've heard good things about them or they've been recommended. I always get the sample first - that will give you a good idea as to the writing, editing etc.
     
  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Yeah, that's a good point. I found a few (very few) gems in my early Kindling days, when I downloaded prolifically. I still buy books from those authors when they come out.
     
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  7. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    As I think about it, I've generally seen better writing in amateur games than stories or fanfiction, despite the medium's reputation. Perhaps the technical barriers have something to do with it. A novella with poor writing mechanics may fail, but a game requires a certain amount of proficiency to even exist.
     
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  8. datahound2u
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    datahound2u Member

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    That's a very good point. I'm not a gamer, but I've played enough to understand your meaning.
     
  9. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess anyone can buy good cover art. :)

    I have a hard time talking myself into reading self-published books... for all the afore-stated and obvious reasons. Even reading the sample can sometimes fool me into thinking the story is better than it is.

    I read somewhere that an editor will, after finding the first chapter well-written and polished, will skim the rest of the novel before committing to reading it in its entirety and pick several places to read a passage or two, just to make sure the writer didn't get lazy. Now I understand why.

    I hope, when my novel is finished, to get an agent and a publisher, but if I don't, I'll be going the self-publishing route myself. (I haven't got all day, after all.) So all this brings up the question:

    How does a self-published author go beyond the writing sample in reassuring potential readers that he/she didn't get lazy after polishing what appears in the writing sample?

    And let's end with a joke (my wife found this on some random site this morning)...

    What's the difference between a cat and a complex sentence?

    A cat has claws and the end of its paws. A complex sentence has a pause and the end of its clause.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that the surprise isn't the SPAG errors, but the good storyline.

    I no longer buy self-published books, unless I know the author's work, AND know it in the same format. (That is, no matter how much I may respect a blogger, I'm not likely to buy their self-published book. But if I like an author of books, and they give self-publishing a try, I may buy one of those.)
     
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  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If I like a blogger, I'd be inclined to try one of their books, if it wasn't horribly expensive. If their blogs are well-written, chances are their books won't be too bad? The worst that will happen is you'll be out a few quid, and the best is that you might discover a really good author who can't be bothered courting publishers, but would rather get on with writing. Especially if they're writing outside of mainstream interests.

    One of my favourite novels is written by Mark Rice, entitled Metallic Dreams, which involves the maniac adventures of a (fictional) Scottish heavy metal band. The book is self-published, and a total hoot. It's very well-written with no SPAG errors, as Mark is a grammar fanatic. It could have benefited from some editing, to cut 'fat' from the story to a small extent, but I've certainly read books that were traditionally published that don't hold a candle to this one. Yes, he's a friend of mine (now) but I didn't know him at all when I first bought the book. It was recommended to me by the fellow who was writer-in-residence in this part of Scotland at the time. I loved the book to bits, did a lot of laughing out loud, ended up meeting Mark, and joined the writers' group he chairs—and have never looked back. I haven't had this much fun in years.

    I think this whole area of the industry is changing, and hopefully self-published offerings will not all be 'vanity' level books. I suppose in order to stand out you MUST write a very very good blurb about your book, though, and of course enable the 'look inside' feature on Amazon.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
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  12. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the idea that people are self-publishing because they "can't be bothered" to do something and just want to get on with their writing is probably a bit inaccurate, or at least only applies in limited situations.

    In my experience, it is much more bothersome to self-publish than it is to go with a publisher. Submitting an MS to an agent or publisher just doesn't take very long, in terms of author work time. There's waiting time, of course, so if someone's in a hurry, maybe that's bothersome. But in terms of overall effort in getting a completed MS in front of readers? Self-publishing, for me, has been a much bigger drain on my time and energy. (And generally for lower return, at least thus far).

    With the current state of the industry, I'd say if someone just wants to focus on writing they should be working with a publisher; if they want to play with a lot of different aspects of the publishing process, that's when they should consider self-publishing.
     
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  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, self-publishing takes time and effort, especially the promotion angle. However, there are many people out there (like myself) who would rather make the effort to promote our own work directly, rather than spending a lot of time courting agents who ultimately aren't interested.

    If you're writing in a genre that agents are hot for and sticking to length requirements, then it's worth your while to submit to agents till you land one. But if you're writing something that agents will reject out of hand because of length, subject matter, whatever, then self-publishing seems less of a waste of time.

    I spent several years reading blurbs from agents to discover what they're looking for. My book simply doesn't fit. What's the chance of an agent taking on a historical novel about the old west that is over 200,000 words long? From an unpublished author. Thirty years ago, this length would have been no problem, but it is today. And no, I'm not going to cut it to 'fit.' That would destroy my story. The fat has already been cut during many edits (down from 312,000 words), and my story now says what I want it to say and no more. I prefer to just get it out there, and write my next one.
     
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  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, there are good reasons to self-pub. I just don't think "can't be bothered" with regular publishing is a good one, in most cases. I'd say your approach is one of the "limited situations" I mentioned.
     
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  15. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I do think a lot of people are self-publishing because they think it's too hard to get an agent or publisher, which kinda falls into the 'can't be bothered' category even if it doesn't have the same connotation of laziness. I know one of these types of writers (a friend of a friend) and I'm sure there are many more. When we start researching how to get published, isn't the first thing we hear how very difficult and unlikely it is?
     
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  16. datahound2u
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    datahound2u Member

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    I have yet to achieve that goal of researching how to get published. However, with all that I've read in this forum and elsewhere, I can't say that I'm looking forward to the experience.
     
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  17. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think there's a connection between the "difficult to get published" idea and the "self-published books are often crap" issue.

    In my experience, it's quite easy to find publishers (small, but reputable) for books that are written the way publishers want books to be written. Marketable, sell-able books. It's somewhat more difficult to find an agent and then a large publisher for books that are written the way publishers want books to be written, but again in my experience, totally possible. And I imagine it's pretty much impossible to find a publisher for the vast majority of books that are being self-published, because they are not written the way publishers want - ie. most of them are really crappy.

    So I think there's definitely a myth out there that publishing is really hard to break into, but it's a myth that's perpetuated, at least in part, by people who aren't writing the "right" kind of books to get publisher interest.

    Is it hard to write a book that will get agent/publisher interest? For some people at least, yes, it's very hard. But given a book that's written the way agents/publishers want, is it hard to get their interest? No, I wouldn't say it is.
     
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  18. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    That seems perfectly logical, and indeed these books weren't too bad in terms of SPAG and of paragraph-by-paragraph structure. But it appears that a talent at writing blog posts doesn't necessarily extend to structuring an entire book. The non-self-published books based on blogs that I've read--for example, Smitten Kitchen or Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing--have been quite good, but the self-published ones, not so much. I have a notion that I've experienced at least one exception, but that the exception was someone who was working in publishing in her day job.

    Odds are that I'll try one again, but odds are that I'll be disappointed again.
     
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  19. datahound2u
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    datahound2u Member

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    I imagine it's possible for someone to be a good story teller, yet not be a good writer, similar to the way someone can be a good cook, yet not be able to follow a recipe.

    As I continue to read this novel, the pace is good, as well as the POV, and the story seems to be (at least to me) quite credible.
     
  20. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Got an example of the way agents/publishers want a book to be written in?
     
  21. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Got thousands of examples - check out your local bookstore!
     
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  22. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In the voice of the Simpsons... DUH :sleepy:
     
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  23. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, can't argue with that. It's like that old argument I keep having with my husband, who is a retired journalist (a news sub.) His goals as a journalist were very different from mine as a novelist. I've picked up some pointers from him, but I don't want my book to sound like the front page of the Daily Record! :)
     
  24. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think a lot depends on what you're writing, and the length of your book. If you're writing in a genre that's popular and have stuck to length requirements for first-time authors, then you probably will have a good chance at landing an agent and getting published. Provided, of course, that your book reads well and isn't full of obvious errors. There is lots of help out there to keep you straight with query letters, formatting, etc.
     
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