Monday, August 8, 2011

And as the game changes...

So on Thursday I wrote about how interesting it is to be in the middle of a publishing revolution.

And while I'm still personally committed to the traditional route, I'm impressed that so many thoughtful, calm writer-friends are taking the self-publishing leap.

I'll be reading and reviewing their books and doing interviews with a few of them in upcoming weeks. So check back!

Entertainment Weekly recently jumped on the bandwagon and reviewed Amanda Hocking's books (link), and while they gave her Trylle trilogy a B-, they also pointed out a big problem in indie publishing: Quality Control.

In our ensuing discussion of self-publishing last Thursday, we all noted the same problem: it's hard as a consumer to know who took the time to work with a professional editor and who was just (understandably) frustrated and eager to get their book "out there."

I've been burned more than once on a self-published book, so I'm cautious about buying any more.

And it's not just the reader in me cringing, it's the former English teacher/editor as well. I just want to break out my red pen and start making notes everywhere.

So I was thinking, as this revolution plays out, how will the ancillary businesses that develop around it look?

There's already a growing field of professional editors for hire--if anybody's hiring them. (Or can afford them.) Some of these editors even have backgrounds in traditional publishing.

Will there also develop a system of "Self-pub Reviews and Recommendations"? Will they take into account things like plot holes and underwriting? Rushed pacing and undeveloped characters? Poor word-choice and/or misused words?

In a recent post on the Pimp My Novel blog, Eric predicted a resurgence of independent book stores as a result of the collapse of Borders, and possibly other big-box stores. (link)

One thing I loved about indie bookstores was the Employee Recommendations section. You remember, the shelves that had employees' names on them and the books they thought you'd like? There was usually an employee whose taste matched mine, and whose rec's I always devoured.

I wonder if we'll see something like that appear in the world of self-pubbed ebooks.

There will definitely be a need for this. Something to help us navigate the sea... What do you guys think? Any suggestions for the entrepreneurs out there who might be reading?

In the meantime, I'm back in the revisions chair. And I'm looking for a little freelance work, so let me know if you come across anything.

Have a great week, reader- and writer-friends! Til Thursday~ <3

24 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I haven't read a ton of self published books but so far I've had a wonderful experience. I download samples and can usually tell in the sample where the writing is at and the story. So far, the writing that was good and the story that hooked me in the sample proved to be worth 1 or 2 dollars.

Since some trad. published books don't offer samples, I've been burned more with them! Buying a book based on the premise or the blurbs and found it was misleading.

But recently, even with trad. pubbed books I've become way more forgiving, letting the writer in me go and just enjoying the story.

Christine Danek said...

I've read a few self-published books and I would agree with you, quality control is key. Some were awesome and some not so much. But like Laura said it's hard to let the writer in me go when I read a book. I'm in CP mode. It's tough to put that aside and enjoy it.
It would be great to have some sort of review system.

DEZMOND said...

yep, we've read so many bad bad bad books published by big publishing houses, that I'm not even sure anymore if being self published or being published by a huge publisher tells anything about the quality of work.

Jessica Bell said...

I've been lucky in that all the self-pubbed books I've read have been great. But I think that's because they have been books pubbed by bloggers I've taken the time to get to know first. So I kinda knew whether I'd be getting quality or not. I really think that 'tag' idea of yours is an excellent way to navigate the ever expanding self-pubbed books.

Matthew MacNish said...

I have a good friend, who was already published traditionally, and is now considering e-self-pubbing his other books.

What I told him is this: I've never seen a self-pubbed novel that can stand with X, Y, or Z, but that doesn't mean it isn't out there.

The only problem is that I think it would take a lot more work to discover books like that, a lot more work, or a special circumstance.

Liz Fichera said...

I'm very intrigued by the changes to publishing too. It will be interesting to see what new things develop from it. Balancing choice with quality will continue to be a challenge.

Old Kitty said...

It'll be most interesting to see how much quality control there will be within the self-pubbed authorship! I hope there will be high standards but I really don't know how this will be acheived! I am hoping that the self-pubbed community will band together to get quality out there!

Good luck with your edits! Take care
x

Kelley said...

I just self-pubbed, and quality control is a huge concern. I've seen good and bad, but I'm not weary enough to stop reading or writing and contributing. Good post

Carole Anne Carr said...

I'm an independent publisher about to publish my fifth and I try very hard to 'get it right'!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I think if there was some sort of review system like you see in traditional publishing, that would be great. I get nervous of buying a book based on reviews on Amazon. Who know if they are real or written by the author's friends, and the book really isn't all that good. Or worse yet, written by some troll who hasn't read the book.

I read a review of Amanda's book on a major blog. It was enough for me not to read her books. But that was also because the story didn't appeal to me.

I agree that the quality control isn't alway there, though, with the major publishers, either. I've read a few books lately (not YA!) that was poorly edited, and I don't just mean typos. And these were by best selling authors. P

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

You stole the word ("revolution") out of my upcoming Friday post - you must be psychic! :) Yes, things are changing. And I have that same reaction (where was the editor?) with some trad. pubbed books - it's harder to read like a reader once you're a writer.

KarenG said...

These are exciting times, that's for sure! There's just so much going on, and the competition is heating up on Kindle, many more books there and harder to rise in the rankings. I still think the small press is a solution for many-- editing, faster time from submission to release, no cost to author, publisher pays you.

LTM said...

@Laura--you're so right about the samples! That's a great way to gague whether you'll like something or the quality. I've used it w/traditionally pubbed books, too! It's hard to let that writer go, but it does make a difference... Thanks! :o) <3

@Liz--I KNOW, right? So interesting. I hope someone takes my idea for recs and runs with it... :D <3

Elle Strauss said...

I think it's a risk either way. Personal recommendations and book reviews sway me more than how the book was published. It's either a good book, or it's not. However, the financial risk is a lot lower with Indie e-books.

Kris Yankee said...

I selfpubbed because my agent told me to. I trust her, but I still want to go the traditional route. Quality is huge. Even after a professional proofer went through my manuscript, I still found a few errors. I don't expect the reader to say, "oh, that's okay that there are mistakes...it's selfpubbed." That's just not acceptable to me.

M Pax said...

There's mistakes in traditional publishing and they put out less than stellar books.

You can sample chapters before buying in ebooks, which takes a lot of risk away for the buyer.

I'm starting on this path to build an audience and as a marketing strategy. I've found it very rewarding so far.

The fact is, I want a career and a business. I'll be pursuing traditional publishing, too, as I don't see why it has to all be one or the other. We can do both.

Pk Hrezo said...

I think you're on to something... perhaps a blog based solely on indie book reviews... or maybe that's already out there. I know a lot of reviewer will not review self-pubbed titles.

Lydia K said...

I totally agree with the quality control thing. Even with writers hiring editors, there are huge differences in the types of editorial provided--from plot stuff to only line edits.

Kelly said...

I think quality control is key. Having a supportive group of critiquers is so important, but also an editor (friend or paid) to catch the little things.

Anita said...

I wish you would read A SCARY GOOD BOOK to see the quality that indie books can present. Also, I don't think of it as an excuse, but as a book columnist, I see a ton of traditionally published books that are horrible. If I had more time, I'd review just indie epublished books...sounds like a great idea. For now, we just have to rely on reviews. I have several reviews of my first ebook, EARTHLING HERO, that are written by people I don't know AT ALL. I'm so glad that no mean people have found the book, yet! :) I think I have one review written by a family member...not every author does the whole "bombard reviews with family members thing."

LTM said...

@Kris--I'd trust my agent, as you did. And it's cool that you're able to get yourself out there while waiting on other things to come through. Great work keeping those standards high--I understand completely! :o) best~

@PK--YES! Like a blog for that, or a group like Afterglow? It might be hard b/c I know many bloggers don't like to be honest if they don't care for something... A consideration~ :o) <3

Michael Di Gesu said...

Fantastic comments here, Leigh.

Times are certainly changing and we as authors do have options. But as was previously stated, quality is the key. And I have seen horrible mistakes in published books. So how much worse can Indy book be really?

I believe it's up to the reader to check out a book before purchasing. We work too hard for our money, we should't just throw it way on garbage.

Libby said...

I'm going to release a self-pub collection of short stories and have been toying with the idea of putting in the blurb - professionally edited. Though I fear if even one typo makes it through, I'll get slammed.

LTM said...

@Libby--good luck w/your book! I think for short stories and poetry, self-pubbing is becoming the only way to go, yes? Reviews and recs from friends seem to be very effective. Best~ :o) <3