Saturday, June 11, 2016

How To Find a Good Self-Published Book

My first two hundred or so exposures to self-published books were--to put it mildly--negative experiences. I am still of the opinion that almost every self-published book is crap that should never be offered for sale or to be given the light of public display.

However, over the past six months or so I have managed to find some really good self-published novels. And, no, I'm not talking about the few that have been picked up by major publishers and put out in new formats with advertising behind them, etc. I read those, also, but I'm not referring to them here.

The books I've been finding are novels published and advertised the same way just about every such novel is promoted: via the Internet in ebook format and with all efforts at promotion done strictly by the author.

The way I have been able to find some good books is by doing a few things that had passed by me before. First of all, I ignore the five-star reviews. They're worthless. Cormac McCarthy is five-star. Charles Bukowski is five-star. Ernest Hemingway is five-star. Ray Bradbury, Ursula get my meaning. When I look at reviews at all these days, it's to the ones with four stars and three stars. (I also ignore the one and two-star reviews because those are generally done just out of cruelty or to voice some political or philosophical or religious disagreement with the author of the book.)

The brightest and most thoughtful and honest of the reviews that I read have four-star approvals. Anything else is generally bullshit. It's a fact.

Also, I don't listen to the recommendations from friends. Sorry, but this has pretty much been a complete bust for me. Why do my pals always do this? Word of mouth ain't all it's cracked up to be. They tell me there's a thriving business books about dinosaur-on-woman-bestiality. One man's treasure can obviously be a pile of turds to my way of thinking.

The next thing I do is read the excerpts that are generally offered online. And I don't mean just the first line or paragraph or even page. I got suckered by some great opening pages. Sometimes it takes a bit more than that to prove quality, and some people know how to create a hook but not a competent novel structure. So I try to read as much of the sample as is offered. If I'm still interested after that, I've probably found a good book and I'll take a chance on the purchase.

Now, I don't mean to say that I have found self-published books that are completely brilliant and flawless and destined to become classics of the form. I haven't done that, yet. Even among traditionally published novels that kind of quality is very rare. But what I have been able to do in the past few months is find a small number of entertaining and well constructed novels that are self-published.

So...maybe there's hope for the technique after all. (And, yes, I admit to giving a few self-published books five-star reviews because, frankly, I was just thrilled to finally locate really good self-published novels. But to be honest, I haven't found any Hemingways in the mix.)

Computer Heist by Michael P. King. Just one of the decent self-published novels I have read recently.

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