November 15, 2012

Thoughts: On Self-Pub Boom

 I need to get this off my chest and ask if any one thinks like I do. 

Publishing is being forced to transition. Change is supposed to be always good. Part of our jobs as trusted bloggers is to adapt and embrace these changes. I mean, more books, more options, more writers out there fulfilling their dreams...? Great, right? As a writer myself, I often look at successful self-pub authors and think "wow, well that's inspiring!" and feel I have options now. Look at how many self-pub writers have a deal with a publisher! So many books will be re-published by a big name! So many self-pub books nominated for the Goodreads Awards this year!

But as a reader?

Not that I don't want more awesome books to read. Not that it's not obvious that some self-pub writers have some gripping and intense stories to tell. But... I'm not just a reader. I'm a lover of language, a lover of words. I love the art of putting words together. I love when great authors blow my mind with their writing. I love how some authors can create so much from these simple symbols put together. It's like magic. It touches you.

So when I find myself divided between absolutely adoring a book that has more grammar errors than correct sentences? My soul hurts. My love of stories threatens to overshadow my love of words. I do not want that.

Where will our language be when self-pubs have reached new levels? How positive this new era to our love of literature? A free pass for spelling errors just like the 140 characters has? Do we just throw away grammar and usage guides and proper syntax so that we have more reading options? Wouldn't this be extremely important in YA/MG specifically because that's when kids build their habits?

Please do not misunderstand this post and think I'm generalizing. I'm sure lots of self-pub writers can produce a very well written book. Will it ever be the same as when it's scrutinized and proofread infinite times by a big publisher name? Even when they are, I have found mistakes. It can happen.

Should we just blindly support self-publishing? Will all the authors who go through a regular publishing process still get a different recognition? These are all my doubts as we face this new reality. I would love to get other opinions.


  1. Hmmmm... I think it really depends. There is a lot of crap out there in self-publishing, obviously because you can just write something up in whatever period of time and then put it up for sale without even editing it. And I feel like I've definitely seen instances of this. I've seen self-pub books where I wonder why the author decided to write fiction, because it was clear to me that they couldn't properly construct a sentence.

    Thankfully I think this is the minority, specifically for the ones that are getting big recognition. I'm not always the biggest fan of these books, but for the most part I've seen real writing talent and people who are really decent writers. I also haven't experienced many (or any) errors in these books. I feel like they're the people who have either paid for editing services or at least had beta readers and editing from friends.

    I guess you can look at it in a few different ways, but I see self-publishing almost as democracy in action. Agents and editors have been loving new adult manuscripts for years, but they've been told they can't sell them, and there's not a category for them. Now look at all the self-pubs that are signing deals with publishers. So many of them are new adult, because within the past couple of years these books have been selling like crazy on Amazon. Publishers are finally waking up and realizing that people want these books, even if they don't fit into a nice tidy category that B&N can market.

  2. I have a love-hate relationship with self-pub novels. My prob with them is the over abundance of total crap stories that you have to sift through to find the shining stars. I don't read as many as I use to...maybe I've just improved my system for selecting them. Not sure. There are a lot of great self-pub authors out there and I'm happy to see them get picked up by the BIG pubs. Great topic.

  3. I agree with Ashley above. There are definitely self-published books on the market that are edited as well as any published by a big publisher. I am usually very selective about buying ANY book, so most times I avoid the crap ones.

    Before I buy, I almost always read a few reviews from each of the star-rating categories, then I open up the sample and skim through. Because I realize that not everyone has the same taste and dislikes, etc.

    There are exceptions to this of course - I don't do that if it's a continuation in a series I really enjoyed or if it's by an author that I trust based on their previous work. But I manage to pick out and toss the bad seeds pretty well.

    Is it time consuming? Definitely. But I like spending money on GOOD books, even if it is just $1. :) I do this with traditionally published books too; just because it was published by a "big six" doesn't mean I'll like it.

    There are too many great books that would go unread if it weren't for self-publishing. It's not the publishing company's fault - there's no way they can read every manuscript submitted to them. So I think even though there are some terrible books out there in the self-pubbed world, in the end it's worth it.

    Trust me - read the samples. You can usually instantly tell whether the writing is to your liking or not.

    Great post!


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