Now back to the point, this group has done some book reviews, not only do I disagree with their outcome but I also differ with how they base their ratings. There are two that stick out the most for me and that is (if the book has big words that I don’t understand it affects the rating) and (if it’s self-published, I already think less of it). I feel that the second point is very discouraging to anyone in the independent market, be it films or otherwise.
I’ll start with the first point. All I can say is, what? You honestly gave a low rating to a book because the author used words that are too large for you? If you want to read simple and common words then stick to children books please. Here is where we differ if the author uses to many common words the writing becomes less interesting to me. I love it when books make me have to pick up my dictionary.
Moving on to my second point, self-publishing. I don’t have a problem with self-published books. When an author asks me to review their book I never question if the novel is self-published. That’s the last thing on my mind. Thinking less of a book because it’s not backed by a publisher is another form of discrimination, and all discrimination (race, sexual preference, sexism, and so on) needs to be cast out. Some of the best authors started their careers by self-publishing their work. I can go on with this forever but I decided to let authors talk about self-publishing. I emailed almost every author I know and asked them this question.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing? Good or bad?
The following 4000 or so words are their responses. Some of the writers are self-published and others are big time authors. Read over their answers and judge for yourself if self-published books stack up with novels published by presses.
Calvin Miller (Het Madden)
Good. I started Zilyon with a friend of mine. He handles the publishing biz aspects and I write and prepare anthologies, other books,etc. Having said that, I consider myself self published since I did every single bit of work on Het Madden and it was our first book. I love the fact that I did it my way. I designed the cover, it's my story, I did the e-book... Very satisfying. We are working on 2 projects for other people at this time, and I am writing "Het Madden: Lord of this World". I also have a couple of projects coming up that will be thru traditional publishers. Het Madden/Self Publishing got my name out there in a short period of time.
Eric S Brown (Season of Rot, World War of the Dead)
I, personally, am against it in the sense that I wouldn't do it. However, equally, I have nothing against it. It lacks the respect that comes with being signed by publishers BUT it often allow the author to make MUCH more money per book sold if we're talking small press and there are folks like David Moody who have done very well by it.
David Moody (Autumn series, Hater, Dog Blood)
Self-publishing - good or bad?
I don't think it's as clear cut as it sounds. There are a lot of factors to consider here, and I'll try and outline a few of them as I see them. Firstly, I have to say that self-publishing worked for me. Without it I'd never have got to the position where I find myself now.
1. it's a great way of getting your work out there and allowing you to build up a readership
2. it allows you a higher degree of control over your work
3. there are no restrictions - anyone can do it
4. it's much faster than 'traditional' publishing - you can theoretically finish your book and have it on sale the same day
5. it can be a viable alternative to the old 'submission > rejection' merry-go-round. A few authors have been picked up by mainstream presses as a result of their self-published books
Not so positives:
1. self-publishing has a negative stigma attached to it - reviewers, bookstores etc. often won't give a self-published author the time of day
2. for every person who gets it right, a hundred people seem to get it wrong
3. editorial and presentation standards are generally much worse
4. the buck stops with the author, and if they're moderately successful, they'll find themselves spending less and less time on writing and more time doing admin, paying bills, posting out books etc. etc.
Those are just my quick thoughts. In summary I'd say anyone considering self-publishing should think about it very carefully and don't expect overnight success and results. It can work, but you need to get it right and have something unique to say if you're going to stand out from the vast crowds of people doing the same thing. A self-published book should look like a traditionally published book to succeed.
I'd always suggest that people considering this should think about giving their work away free to get people interested before they start charging for it. Perhaps release the book in paperback, but make a free pdf/kindle/ibook download available too? When I released Autumn in that way, people seemed to get hooked by the free download then went on to buy the paperback!
Tonia Brown (The Blooming)
I have no problem with the idea of self published books.
That said, the problem I do have with them lays in the process of it. Folks who self publish often go no farther than self editing as well, and that is ALWAYS a mistake for longer works. When you become so intimate with the material as to have written it, you also become blind to easy mistakes. If one is going to self publish I always suggest taking the time to find someone willing to edit it. And not just a friend or a family member. Family will be too kind. You need to find a stranger who doesn't give a flying flip whether they piss you off or not.
The second issue is formatting. Folks new to the publishing world often go gonzo with formatting. This is a personal choice on my part, but I cringe at a lot of self pubbed books because they look so bad. (and I have cringed at small publishing houses books for the same reason, even my own books)
There is a lot to be said for the independence of self publishing, but its work. Hard work. If one is up for it then I say huzzah! I don't look down on it. But the world as a whole is left to wonder if the choice to self publish is due to the writer's preference, or the material itself?
A.M. Esmonde (The Breathing Dead, Deathwatch)
I feel it's not a case of good or bad, it's about the market, quality of the writing and story. But mainly what the writer wants to achieve. Who are they writing it for etc.
My thoughts are that if a writer were to self publish; follow a traditional route, get an editor, get a proof reader and so on. They should then have a rounded and solid book.
The readers will make their own choice if they like it or not.
Alan Gandy (Voyeur Dead)
I like this question. I will have to go with good. Actually I can’t see the bad in any way. As a self published author I have reaped the benefits of it. I just think it cool that anyone with the drive to create something to completion can publish it. I’m not saying it will be good, it could be just crap but as we all know even publishing company put out crap. To say that you need a company to validate an ideas worth is ridiculous. Self publishing gives the author freedom to put their work out there in its purest form without somebody saying it’s not good enough or change this and that.
With My Voyeur Dead book it never crossed my mind to try and get it published the traditional way. My book is a concept Zombie book with an unsettling story, a sick protagonist and photos inserted from the protagonist’s helmet cam.
I didn’t need or want anyone to tell me if it was good enough to be published. I knew it was cool and that’s all I needed.
With self publishing you do have to put in the work to promote your book and come up with an ad campaign. But in my experience that part is just as fun as writing the book. Even traditional publisher have their authors out on the streets hitting the pavement.
Probably there are some publishing companies that don’t like the self publishing thing, but that’s just politics, money and elitism.
If their product is quality they should have nothing to worry about. Competition is always good for the consumer I find.
For the consumer: Yes there might be more crap out to siphon through to find a great book but there are more great books because of self publishing to help clean off the crap.
Self publishing gives choice and freedom to the author and the consumer. I just don’t understand why some people don’t like choice and freedom. Hmm... interesting.
Kim Paffenroth (Valley of the Dead, Dying to Live)Usually, bad. I'm sure there are exceptions. I haven't succumbed to the temptation myself.
Iain McKinnon (Domain of the Dead)
Bit of both Lyle.
If a publisher isn't forth coming it's cheap enough to self publish these days. And that’s good if you have a book that one reason or another publishers won't take a risk on.
My writing style had been turned down by dozens of agents and publishers over the years so I self published.
Had I not proved my writing was marketable I'm sure I'd still be looking for a publisher.
That said I and many other self published authors have gone to a traditional publishers when we were offered.
The reason for this is marketing. Traditional publishers have the ability to market books more successfully. They have better contacts, better budgets and there is a level of screening (cause let’s face it not all self published authors should be publishing).
I don't think self publishing is a bad thing. Its relatively cheap these days so most people can afford it with a bit of determined saving and as far as gambles go if you can't bet on yourself who can you bet on?
Be careful though. When you can get advice from someone who's used that publishers before.
For example being dyslexic I paid (a considerable amount) to get my novel proof read, spell checked and formatted. If you've read the first edition you'll know what a piss poor job was done.
Also my old publisher now demands a $50 annual holding fee to keep your book in print (which is unbelievable).
So check the fine print before you pay the money to get it into print!
Iain McKinnon (continue)
I understand the point of snobbery that self published books aren't as good as traditional publishing houses output.
There's an element of truth in that. Traditional Publishers up out very highly polished books - self published are a lot more slip shod.
Also a lot of writers need a lot of work that they just don't get on their own. Domain of the Dead is my first published work but I've been writing for about 15 years now.
Writing is a craft, it takes a lot of effort (and I know I still have lot to learn) but self published authors don't get that professional help an editor can give them.
There is also probably a lot of viteral there too because technology has made publishing so much easier (word processors, print on demand even the routes to market like Amazon) publishing has under gone a revolution in our own life times.
I completely understand the hatred of others work "I'm better than they are why did they get published?"
I know there can be little rhythm or reason to fads in literature (I'm glad I caught the zombie wave).
I would suggest if a publisher is looking to print your work it will make senses to go with them. You might not get as much money per book but there expertise and exposure will help sell more books in the long run.
David Dunwoody (Empire)
As with traditional publishing, I think it depends on the author. There are some great self-published authors - people with diligence and discipline who care about quality and about growing as a writer, and who employ beta readers and even editors. And yes, there are those who do it strictly because they're too insecure and/or impatient - and it shows, and it shapes their career. To paraphrase Stan Lee, I think the freedom a self-publishing author embraces also comes with great responsibility.
EMPIRE was first published online as a serial novel, but I wouldn't have dreamed of charging for that early draft. Those who checked it out for free provided some valuable feedback, and I think subsequent passes through it - both myself, and with an editor - definitely improved it for print.
Brian Kaufman (Dead Beyond the Fence)
I am biased. I love independent films, Indy rock and locally owned businesses. Of course I’m drawn to self-publishing.
That said, I have some experiences to share. A successful small press published my first two novels. The editor I worked with was terrific. He put a lot of love into the first book. When the second novel went to press, he was focused on another project, and some details slipped through the cracks. I did 90% of the marketing for both projects, and I’m told that doesn’t change for the larger presses. Both of my books
made money – for my publisher. I think I earned about two cents an hour for my efforts.
That small press was a labor of love, but profit considerations still ruled the decision-making process. And sometimes, economizing hurts the product rather than helping it.
I opened my own press (Dark Silo) to publish my third novel (“Dead Beyond the Fence”). Whenever a decision came down to money, I always opted in favor of quality. It wasn’t a “profit be damned” attitude – I just believe that in the long run, readers can spot a quality project. And I was right.
Self-publishing is especially appropriate for my favorite genre. Brick-and-mortar bookstores won’t stock new horror. Instead, the genre lives online, which means that a small company can battle with the bigger companies on a level playing field – Amazon. You don’t need the permission of the chain store’s “small press liason” to put your book in front of the public.
I do want to distinguish between self-publishing and other publishing options. True self-publishing involves starting up a company and doing the hard work to get your book into the marketplace. For those not interested in going the whole way, there are companies that will take your money to stuff words into a POD template and list the book on Amazon. Those companies vary from excellent to shameful. Let the buyer beware.
My advice for anyone using one of these companies is:
· Edit the book to death BEFORE you contact the publisher
· Proof the template version to death BEFORE you okay the project
· Don’t buy the extras. The publisher’s “marketing package” won’t sell your book. You have to do that yourself.
In the past, publishers took a chance on mid-list books, nurturing a promising author’s career. Those days are gone. Today’s commercial presses take projects based on the author’s “platform” and the author’s ability to deliver perfectly homogenized vanilla. If you’re original (or raw), you’re better off with a small press, POD printer or a publishing company of your own.
Craig DiLouie (Tooth and Nail)
Before the Internet, self publishing was much more challenging because without the backing of a major house that could offer distribution, self-published authors were limited to selling their books direct to family and friends, business contacts and highly targeted mailing lists. Then two things happened. The advent of digital publishing and the Internet significantly reduced the costs of producing and marketing a book. Authors could design their own book, print it at a low initial cost using on-demand printing technology, produce a professional-looking cover using cheap stock photography, and market it online to thousands of people at a very low cost.
Self publishing can be very rewarding. I’ve had four non-fiction and three fiction books published by small presses. I also self published a work of speculative fiction titled THE THIN WHITE LINE (www.pandemicbook.com). For this book, I was able to have complete control of the final edit, design, covers and price. Instead of taking 10-15% of the royalties, I was able to take 100%. The tradeoff, of course, is developing the skill set to be able to do all these things well and not look like vanity junk. For my self-published work, I tracked down a good book layout template, book cover design software (that also produced bar coding), stock photos and ISBN. Each of these items presented a cost in terms of both money—although I was able to pick up everything I needed without major expense—and lots and lots of time. So the question is: Do you have the time, energy, money and skills to not only produce a first-rate work of fiction, but also be your own editor, graphic designer, etc.? If not, you’re going to be paying somebody else to produce what you can’t or won’t, which will raise the cost of producing your book.
Regarding marketing, in my opinion, there is little difference between self publishing and being published by a small- to medium-sized publisher, at least in my experience. Either way, you are going to be doing a lot of your own marketing and promotion. Depending on what your publisher is willing to do for you, that includes book signings, email blasts, building a website, sending out copies of the book for book reviews, and so on. If you are earning 100% of the revenue instead of 10-15%, however, spending money on more aggressive marketing becomes much more appealing, as you will get a better return. Again, though, this requires you to acquire the tools and develop the skills required to do these things well. The alternative would be to pay experts to do them at a higher cost, or forego them altogether, which could freeze sales.
Probably the greatest opportunity in self publishing is the ability to develop a line. Once you get your first book produced, you will have an investment in tools and skills needed to produce and market a great book. Why not then produce and market more? Maybe a series, selling more books to the same customers? Or perhaps not your own writing, but somebody else’s? Maybe even set up a co-op of great writers producing their own works and selling them online? The bottom line is if you self publish and can do it well—convincingly, with people responding to your work as if you were a larger publisher—then you can develop a complete line of books, and become a small press. Of course, the tradeoff there is your hobby will be less writing and more publishing.
Overall, self publishing will continue to be profitable as long as the big publishers continue to reject talented authors and quality writing. It can be very rewarding as long as you are willing to make a big commitment to do things beyond your first love, which is writing. Regardless of which path you choose, good luck!
Joseph Talluto (White Flag of the Dead)
I personally believe that self-publishing is a very good thing for first time authors. It provides an opportunity for them to own a physical representation of their hard work, and it provides an efficient means to promote themselves. Many self-publishing sites offer publication packages, which can be expensive, but may pay dividends in the end. Sites such as Lulu and CreateSpace provide an ISBN number and the opportunity to have the book listed at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The promotion of the created work is up to the author, but word of mouth seems to be doing well. Additionally, if an author is lucky enough to land a publisher, a completed book is a much better visual to send than a pile of paper.
I think self-publishing is a great service to all the authors out there, and I believe the competition in the market will eventually make the major houses sit up and take notice in the near future.
Etienne Deforest (The Zombie Survival Guide: How To Live Like A King After The Outbreak) Most definitly good.
Before I wrote and published my own book I was on the manufacturing side of the industry for three years working as a Staff Accountant for a book printing factory. While I was there I saw the business model that most publishers use, and could not believe how insane their thinking was. If an author gets picked up by a publisher, he basically gets screwed unless he takes off instantly. What the publishers do is print YOUR books off in large quantities to get a volume discount, than front YOUR book to book stores across the country. If you don’t take off like wildfire the publisher gets all these books back in the mail from the book stores, and then resorts to selling them for pennies on the dollar to a wholesaler. Afterward the writer’s hard work is sold on Amazon or Ebay for $2, and the book becomes worthless. This practice drives up the price for all the other books that do make it, and screws indie authors.
It’s the most retarded business model I’ve ever seen in my life. Yet it is common practice. Maybe that's why so many small publishers went out of business in the past few years. Any business model works in a booming economy. When the recession hit, it exposed all these problems.
I didn’t even bother shopping for a publisher because I wanted to control the supply of MY product, rather than flood the market. I’m very happy with my decision. Between e-books and paperbacks I sell a little over 100 copies a month, and manufacture a little over 100 copies a month. The supply is constant to the demand. Some say it’s more expensive to print on demand and self publish. Well, I’m an accountant, and I strongly disagree.
Rebecca Carter (Moonlit Daydreams)
There has always been a stigma about self publishing a work of fiction, people believe that if you were a good writer you would have gotten a traditional publishing deal through a major house. My current book is my first foray into self publishing and I have learned a lot in the past year: including to love the self publishing world. The most important thing to realize is that if you are hearing about a self published book the author put a lot of time and effort into getting that information out to you. Even though publishing houses don't do much marketing for authors these days, the little bit of work they provide relieves some effort off the shoulders of the author. A self published author normally must put in all the leg work for themselves or pay high fees to have someone else do it for them. People must realize self publishing is not new. Some of the best and most original authors in history are self published, including Edgar Allen Poe - the Internet has just made the options better and more viable. I whole heartedly believe that self publishing allows some of the best and most original works of fiction and nonfiction of our generation to be seen without censorship from traditional publishers.
S.G Browne (Breathers: A Zombies Lament)
Having had no experience myself in self-publishing and not knowing anyone personally who has, my viewpoint is a bit limited to that of a bystander. But I’ve always felt that if having a novel published is your ultimate goal, if seeing your novel or collection of short stories in a finished format would provide an added sense of accomplishment, then how could that possibly be wrong?
However, if you’re looking for more than just the thrill of having your story in book form and you’re hoping to make some money at it, it takes a lot of time and effort to get your book in front of an audience. Especially when you don’t have a publisher behind you to get shelf space in Barnes & Noble or Borders or other major bookstores. It’s a numbers game. And there are a lot of books being published. Somehow you have to find a way to get your book noticed.
Also, one of the benefits of being published by a NY publisher or a small press is that your novel will go through several levels of editing, all of which play a significant role in improving the manuscript. So unless you can afford to have the novel professionally edited prior to self-publishing, then chances are your finished product isn’t going to be as polished as it could be and your sales will likely reflect this.
Finally, it’s always been my understanding that authors who have self-published, even those who do it successfully from a numbers standpoint, don’t improve their chances of getting scooped up by a publisher simply because they’ve managed to sell a lot of copies. So if you’re using self-publishing as a springboard to landing a publishing contract with a major house, I wouldn’t put that on your list of reasons for going the self-publishing route.
Author Response End
I recently had a long email conversation with Anthony Giangregorio, if you don’t know him he runs Living Dead Press and is the author of The Rage Plague and Dead End. When he found out I was a book reviewer he told me how much he disliked us. I asked him why, Tony said that he has had bad experiences with reviewers and all they did was attack him. I honestly felt bad for him because that’s not the way reviewing is suppose to be. I apologized to him on behalf of reviewers everywhere. After a few more email exchanges he told me that I helped change his mind on reviewers and would be honored to have me review one of his books.
What I’m trying to say in this post is if you're going to be a reviewer please be fair and honest. I know some books out there are terrible, say that you thought the book was terrible but also say that it is your opinion. Never tell someone to not read a book, their views on what’s good may be different then yours. Also, I’m not trying to attack anyone with this and I apologize if it sounds that way. I just can’t stand people trashing other people over something like this. I’m glad I was able to get all that off my chest. I hope this extremely long post will help build courage in any writer looking to self-publish their work. Feel free to leave your thoughts on self-publishing or how you feel about reviewers attacking authors. Thanks for ready, I look forward to reading what you guys have to say.