What light through yonder window breaks? It’s an iFrame, and it contains survey results! Clearly, I need to get over my crush on the Wufoo surveys very very soon. But not today!
I don’t need to read a pie chart or line graph for you, but I thought it was very interesting that there were nearly equal amounts of print and digital self-published books purchased by those who did purchase them, and that the top three reasons for trying a book were based on sampled text, the description of the book, or a recommendation from a known source.
Self publishing. There’s a TON of options, there’s so many different books, and sometimes you stumble onto amazing reading and other times, possibly more often, it’s crap fiesta, and dear LORD it’s a lot to weed through.
Plus, there’s the encounters one might have had with the self-published author selling her book. It’s not a surprise that authors in any publishing venture have to spend an increasing amount of time marketing and promoting their own books, whether they’re self-published or published by PenCollinMillanChetteSimonHouse. But readers in the comments to my survey entry told of some rather awkward encounters with the self-published authors that have turned them off to the entire venture, whether it was incessant schnorring or bat crap crazypants behavior.
Sound familiar? To me, oh yes. It is some digital deja-vu. In terms of the technology, the varying options, the general understanding, the multiple approaches and myriad marketing techniques, and the reader reaction, I think self-publishing is now where digital publishing was a few years ago. Remember back in the day (you know, like, two or three years ago) when there were fourteen-eleventy digital presses publishing erotic romance or just plain buttsexxorama with “I love you” thrown in, and you couldn’t easily tell the quality from the quagmire of crap? Self publishing is a lot like that now, minus all the extraneous buttsexx.
Now, it’s a little easier to tell – most of the time (*cough cough* there’s a Rose stuck in my throat) – which publishers consistently offer excellence in digital reading, and which are not so much into quality as they are into quantity. Many things rise to the top – and in a few years, perhaps self-publishing will be where digital presses are now: with greater understanding among the reading public, better options for reading, and an ability to distinguish between shiny and shinola. As Laurel said in the comments, “I want self pub to be a viable option for writers…. But I am just a normal person. I don’t want to dig for the good stuff- not at the bookstore, and not on Amazon. I don’t shop at T J Maxx for the same reason.”
But for now, there seems to be, based on my highly unscientific survey and the anecdotal discussion in the comments, more negative reaction than positive to self-publishing.
Many people made the point that the reader reaction to self-pub is also somewhat similar to the general reader reaction to romance. To wit: “OMG. There’s a ton of it, I tried one, it was crap, and I’m never going back.” They argued that romance readers’ understanding of the general disdain for romance should perhaps engender some sympathy for self-publication. I can see their point. The same could be said for digital presses a few years ago – there’s so many, and some of it’s crap, and how the hell do I choose?
I don’t disagree, but it is very difficult to tell a reader, “Your opinion founded on your experience is wrong.” If you bought something and experienced crap, it could turn you off a genre, a bookstore, a type of book, a restaurant, a store, whatever. In order for self-publishing to be an option for authors that doesn’t include potentially addressing negative public opinion nonstop, time and development can contribute to the increase in positive experiences with self-pubbed books. Eventually, enough readers chose good books from small digital presses that the reputation of some became worth a great deal. Perhaps the same will occur with an increasing number of self-pubbed books.
To that end, I think the most powerful weapon is positive recommendations – so it’s a good thing we have plenty in the comments.
If you’ve tried a self-published book and thought it was an exercise in self-promotion, hubris and delusion, try these as recommended by your fellow Bitchery readers. Perhaps you will change your mind.
If you would like to make your own recommendation of a self-pubbed book you’ve enjoyed, please do! But one caveat: authors, please do not pimp your own books. And don’t pretend to be someone else pimping your book. We have ways of knowing these things, so please, thou shalt not be thy own sock puppet. I would love more recommendations for self-published books you’ve loved and read, but not ones you’ve written!
(NB: In order to provide some linkage for these books, I Googled them. When possible, I went with an Amazon link as it would have the most information about a book in one place. Not all author websites contain the most reader-desired information, and I didn’t have the time to go through each author site aside from ones I *knew* had great info).
Ransome Seaborn by Bill Deasy, recommended by Carolyn Jewel
The Promises to Keep Series by Shayne Parkinson, recommended by Brian
Thin Blood by Vicki Tyley, also rec’d by Brian
Author Matthew Haldeman Time, rec’d by Ell and prior to that Sarah Frantz
Deed to Death by DB Henson
33 AD by David McAfee
Portal by Imogen Rose
My Blood Approves by Amanda Hocking, all rec’d by Victorine Lieske
Karen Ranney‘s out-of-print backlist at Smashwords rec’d by Sandra
The Proviso and Stay by Moriah Jovan
Darshian Talesby Ann Somerville rec’d by Estara
In Her Name by Michael Hicks, rec’d by Estara
Downtime by Tamara Allen, rec’d by Ann Somerville
Whistling in the Dark by Tamara Allen, rec’d by Ann Somerville
Shadow of the Templar Series by M. Chandler, rec’d by Somerville
The Administration series by Manna Francis, rec’d by Ann Somerville
Karen McQuestion, rec’d by Anna Murray
Naked Through the Snow (and Other Bits of Silliness) by Sailor Jim Johnston, rec’d by Gary