Monday, March 19, 2012

A Brief Word About Epublishing.

Well, I've now owned an ebook reader for about three months. My first impression of the ebook phenomenon was that it was horrible and I wanted nothing at all to do with it. However, after a fair amount of my own sales were generated by ebooks I began to have to take a different look at it. Selfish reason, that, but there you are.

In addition, everyone I know had bought some type of ebook reader and each of them raved about how great it was to have such a thing. Personally, I was horrified and I remained horrified over this new development for a long time. Finally, though, I caved and when Carole asked me what I wanted for Christmas I told her to buy me a Kindle Fire ereader.

And that is what I got.

At first I didn't care for it. It was just the idea of reading on a video screen that bothered me. I have never minded reading science texts or news on my various computer screens, but I couldn't bear to sit in front of any kind of video screen for long periods of time reading fiction or book length non-fiction. Why? Hell if I know! I just didn't care for it!

However...after a couple of weeks of downloading novels and reading them, I finally got used to the format. Now, I rather like it. I still prefer real books, but at least I can dig reading fiction on my Kindle. It's okay.

Another reason I decided to go the route of reading ebooks is that a lot of the writers I know rave about how it changed their writing careers. A number of these folk decided never again to submit their work to publishers and to henceforth just publish their own books and reap the rewards themselves. Most of them went to where they could self-publish and share a bit with the Seattle firm but take the lion's share for themselves. Online, I met quite a few writers who are actually making a decent middle-working-class living publishing their own novels. They one and all kept telling me to do the same.

So I figured what have I got to lose? I'd take the plunge and give it a shot with one of my unsold novels and see what would happen. I had a novel (HISSMELINA) that had been a near-sell at several large publishing houses over the years, but had never quite made it all the way to print, and so I decided to use that book as my test case.

However, one thing that I failed to do before making this decision was to read the books that these self-published authors were selling so well. I wish to Jove I had at least done that much. It was only after committing myself to self-publish a novel that I bothered to see what these ladies and gentlemen were selling so well on Amazon. So I bought some of these books and read them.

Well, that's not quite the truth.

I didn't actually read them.

I tried to read them. However, in every single case--without exception--these self-published novels were so horrid that I could not read more than a few chapters. They are awful. Every one of them. The self-published market at Amazon and Smashwords and the rest are crap. Shit. Dreck. Puke. Vomit. Garbage. Sewage...

And I put myself in with that crowd. I inadvertently identified myself with these jackasses and shysters. These were, are, and always will be folk who don't know how to write. They never submitted work that was able to muster editorial critique, and their work never will pass such muster. The stuff sucks, and it floods the ebook markets like a tsunami of trash.

I'd like to point out some of these lousy writers and embarrass them, but I doubt it would do any good. Sadly, they sell enough of their word-garbage that they make money at it. They're beyond being able to be embarrassed. They've talked enough pals and acquaintances into leaving five-star reviews for their drivel so that customers looking for material to read fall for the trick. In quite a few cases they have generated a kind of pyramid scheme that keeps rolling along, like a giant new Amway business model. You grease me and I'll grease you. The guy with the most moist hands in his crotch wins.

I learned my lesson, though. No more self-publishing for me. Yeah, a few guys lucked out that way--John Grisham and Pat Conroy and James Redfield beat the odds. But the flood of idiots who are self-publishing utter crap is...well, it's a sick and twisted situation.

I hope very soon to see it collapse. I fear it will keep on, but nothing would please me more than seeing it come to a quick end. And a painful one for all of those self-published manufacturers of literary turds.


Michael R. WIlson said...

I know that smashwords gives the authors the ability to show a percentage of the book as a sample before purchase. I agree that it makes it too easy for lousy writers to publish, but I don't think I would buy an e-book without a sample reading...been burned before.
(And there ARE skilled writers in he e-publish world...they're just hard to find sadly!)

HemlockMan said...

With SO MANY self-published books, there HAVE to be some good ones in there. But I'm not going to dig through a mountain of human excrement to find a diamond hiding in the muck.

And you can't trust those five-star reviews (or the one-star reviews, either, for that matter, as many of them are politically/religiously motivated). These jokers get their friends and relatives to leave faux five-star reviews by the dozens. It's a huge circle-jerk.

I've sworn it off, though. If it's self-published, I'm not reading it. If it's published by one of the new e-publishers I 'might' read it, but not likely even that.

And the flood of free ebooks. Good grief. But if I'm going to read a free ebook (and I will) it will be one of the tens of thousands of classic novels in the public domain. Not some recent drivel by someone who can't gather the courage to submit fiction through an editorial process.

MarkGelbart said...

I've found some ok self-published novels...and some really bad ones.

I read one self-published writer who had an exclamation point after every other sentence.

There are also plenty of bad writers who do get published by big name publishers. Many are quite successful, but I don't care how successful they are, in my opinion, they are still terrible writers.

I self published a novel and a collection of short stories. The novel's ok, considering it had no professional editing. I'm proud of my short stories.

But I've decided never to self-publish fiction again. If I can't get it approved through the conventional way, the world won't end.

BTW, if the apocalypse does happen, you won't be able to use your e-reader. I prefer to have book in hand, so I can still read even if my house is surrounded by zombies and the power gets cut off.

HemlockMan said...

As I said, I wish now that I'd never lumped myself in with the idiots who are mucking up the traditional business of books and book publishing. For ever decent book that gets published that way, there are literally tens of thousands of awful ones. Never will I do that again.

Yeah, the ereaders are convenient in many respects, but they don't replace physical books for me. I find that I use my ereader to download classic novels in the public domain. Most recent novels that I want to read are priced so high in ereader format that I just buy the trade paperback version instead.

Jezri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HemlockMan said...

LOL! I'm sure your work sucks, since it's self-published. That's one thing that I can count on with that stuff. It's been through such a rigorous editorial regimen and all...

HemlockMan said...

LOL! Oh, gosh! What a moron! I had to come back and look at that whining crap again! What a jackass!

Allison Dickson said...

I just discovered your blog through another site, and I have to say that while I concede that there is a lot of poorly written material available in the self-publishing market, there are also a lot of wonderful gems written by authors who have worked their asses off to break into the traditional market, but were held back often because traditional publishing is a simple numbers game, and their number didn't come up.

I have no interest in trying to tell you what's good or isn't good, but I DEFINITELY take umbrage with your blanket classification of self-published authors as being shysters and con artists. I work my fingers to the bone to produce stories, edit them, and bring them out to the small but loyal fan base that I secured through no other means than honest hard work and dedication to my craft. And I can assure you I have neither begged nor paid any of them to post positive reviews of my work.

Your narrow view on this topic speaks of someone who is bitter and willfully ignorant, who would rather live in the short-minded world of prejudice than to do the work it actually takes to become educated on something. You read a few poorly written books and just decided to write off an entire industry as bad. Well, I hate to break it to you, but what you're looking at is the future of publishing as we know it, as more and more mainstream authors begin to choose the indie model. And it's a future I'm very much looking forward to, as people discover that they too can share their voices with the world through their books. It's like any market. Some of these people will not succeed, and they will fall by the wayside. Some of them will prevail, either deservedly or not. But that's the beauty of it, isn't it? That's natural selection. Survival of the fittest. The readers are the ultimate gatekeepers.

And as you surely know, there is no guarantee that having a stamp by a Big 6 house will net you a good read. I've tossed enough bad, partially-read paperbacks across my bedroom to fill a small library. But I do not write off the industry as a whole. I simply continue my search for good authors.

There are people out there who believe in themselves and have had enough people believe in them to attempt to blaze their own trail and find their own readers. I wish those people, even those who write something I wouldn't care to read, the best of luck. There is a book out there for every kind of reader.

I hope you find one that works for you, perhaps one that will open your mind just enough to let a little bit of light in there. Maybe then you'll see that there's a whole lot more to self-publishing than a few badly written books.

HemlockMan said...

There's far more to self-publishing than "a few badly written books". Virtually ALL of self-publishing consists of poorly written books. It's a really bad situation and is damaging to literature in general. It helps not at all and I hope for the swift end to the self-publishing phenomena.

Sure, there were lousy books in the days before self-publishing via ebooks. But compared to great literature, almost everything is bad. These days, the self-published novel has reached a new level of awfulness. Before, it was all in diaries and trunks where it was safely hidden from view. Now that crap is all over the estores where I shop. It's a disease that I wish someone would cure.

At any rate, I'm not going to read anymore of that self-published crap. I learned my lesson. Can't cut it at traditional publishers? It means your work isn't any good. If so, keep it to yourselves. I'm certainly not going to read it.

mastbrat said...

Well, good luck. Over the next couple decade, if you live that long, you may not have anything to read.

HemlockMan said...

I'll have plenty to read. It just won't be any self-published crap.