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Old 06-11-2013, 02:19 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by wodin View Post
I learned many years ago that a critic’s taste rarely coincides with mine;
I think that's a mistake a lot of people make. A critic's taste doesn't have to coincide with your own in order to put their reviews to good use. There are many reviewers out there whose glowing recommendations I've learned means that that's a book I should steer completely clear of; and vice-versa. There are specific things a reviewer can say they hate about a book that I know will be major selling point for me (because of past experience).

It's not about finding reviewers/critics that share the same tastes as you. It's about finding critics who consistently critique books in a manner that's useful. It's about learning how their likes/dislikes map (or don't map) to your own reading experiences.

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Does that make me my own best critic?
Absolutely!
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Old 06-11-2013, 02:58 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
He's biased, plainly, but it's a fair point that traditional publishers do play a valuable role as "gatekeepers", in terms of filtering out the unreadable crap. That's why I personally generally stick with books from publishers - I don't have the time to find the gems that I'm sure do exist in the large garbage pile of indie books.
Or, "You get what you pay for"
Why should this business be any different?
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Old 06-11-2013, 03:00 PM   #33
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True. But profit is a powerful motive for selecting those books that stand a reasonable chance of being bought, and while I do of course accept that popularity and quality are not always the same thing, if I buy a book from, say, Baen, I can confidently expect that it'll be fairly well-written and properly edited.
Profit is also a powerful motivator for spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about the competition. In this case the indie books are a fast growing competitor so they keep spreading the FUD.

I never picked random books off a shelf and assumed it was quality and I don't pick random books off of Indie sites. If you look for people with similar tastes that are recommending a book then I'll give it a shot.
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Old 06-11-2013, 03:20 PM   #34
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I never picked random books off a shelf and assumed it was quality and I don't pick random books off of Indie sites.
A very valid point.

Unless one is in the habit of constantly snatching up books at complete and utter random (with absolutely no external input other than what's printed in the publisher's catalog), then the "amount of garbage out there" is really hardly relevant. In other words... who cares that you have a better chance of blindly stumbling into a competently written, traditionally published book if you're not in the habit of blindly stumbling around choosing books you hope are competently written?
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Old 06-11-2013, 03:25 PM   #35
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However, not everyone at the conference thought that self-published missives were good for the market. Andrew Franklin, managing editor of Profile Books, said the vast majority of them were “unutterable rubbish”.
My own 1st thought was to wonder how many of the books that a traditional publisher chooses to market do well as opposed to those that sink with nary a ripple. Granted the traditional publisher has editors who do screen out some of the muck that is unpublishable, but even then some percentage of what they think will be a hit with the reading public is going to be perceived as junk by that public. You can have two different authors submit books using the same theme to the same publisher and one may be accepted and published only to sink quickly while the other (having been rejected) goes onto another publisher who sees its potential and it is published to rave acclaim. Or maybe the 1st makes the big splash and the 2nd sinks. Or both sink. There is no way for anyone to know for sure which book is truly just rubbish and which is the next big seller. The publisher may make an educated guess based on experience, but even he/she can't be completely sure what will happen. I imagine there are those who think that anything labeled "popular fiction" as opposed to literary fiction must be rubbish too. They often forget that what is now classic fiction or called literary fiction by colleges and universities today started out as popular fiction.
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Old 06-11-2013, 03:32 PM   #36
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One of the best things of having jumped into the e-reading bandwagon was having access to authors who don't publish traditionally or whose pbooks don't reach my country, but their self-published books do.

Some authors I enjoyed (and whose books were well formatted and practically free of spelling/grammar errors):

Shayne Parkinson (All I want, Promises to Keep series)
Alan Hutchenson (Boomerang)
Vicky Tyley (all her mysteries)
Luther Blisset (Q)
Allison Wesley (His Robot Girlfriend/His Robot Wife)
Richard Herley (The Penal Colony, The drowning)
Patricia Ryan (Still Life with murder)
Rebecca Forster (Hostile Witness)
Marion Stein (The death trip)
Karl Drinkwater (Turner, Cold Fusion 2000)
Cory Doctorow (Little Brother)
Simon Haynes (Hal Spacejock)

There's life outside the big publishers...
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Old 06-11-2013, 03:51 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by BWinmill View Post
I've heard the gatekeeps of quality part before, but never the gatekeepers of art. Well, maybe some snooty publishing house will make such claims.

The thing is, major publishing houses are in the business to make money. You make money by creating a product that meets consumer expectations, which includes expectations for quality. If they fail at that responsibility long enough they will lose the interest of consumers and the business will fail. In other words, they must be gatekeepers or cultivators.


This same thing could be said of indie writers. We are (well, maybe I should say I am?) in the business to make money. My product either meets consumer expectations for quality and entertainment or I will lose...

The goals are not necessarily different. How we go about it may be different.
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Old 06-11-2013, 04:19 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Undoubtedly there's some excellent self-published books out there (Hugh Howey's "Wool" omnibus springs to mind as an example). The problem I have with indie books in general is simply finding the gems that are out there - I just don't have the time to filter out all the rubbish. As an SF/Fantasy fan I buy the Baen monthly bundle each month knowing that I'm pretty likely to enjoy the books in the bundle, because I know that what Baen publish I'm going (on the whole) to like.
If you like Baen books (and that's pretty broad because it's both sci/fi and fantasy) you might like:

Chris Strange: The Man Who Crossed Worlds
Andrea Host: Stained Glass Monsters

Those are two indies who come to mind in that genre. Both those are excellent books.

Wool did not interest me enough to even pick it up...and a friend of mine read it and found it on the depressing side so I know I won't be picking it up!
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Old 06-11-2013, 04:48 PM   #39
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Thanks for the recommendations - I'll certainly take a look at them!
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Old 06-11-2013, 05:11 PM   #40
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I've read a few self published books. Usually I've gotten them free or nearly so. I don't snap up anything free, if the blurb interests me and the ratings are fair I give it a shot. I've yet to find a book I didn't like. Yeah there might be some errors but as long as the errors don't interfer with my reading then it's not an issue. Formatting is a big turnoff much more so that " it or its or it's ". I can figure the gramatical/spelling errors out but formatting drives me nuts. On the same token, I've felt like throwing across the room some books from the big publishing houses that have gotten all these enormous praises (David Sedaris books for one which I loathe and I like humor). So I think, this so called publisher or whatever he is is pretty much stuck up IMO. Yeah probably most self published books are crap but you might just find a gem in that crap that you wouldn't have gotten to read if you waited for elite publishers to accept the book and the writer. How many indi music artists have you listened to? For all the crap I've found many many indi artists who are better than most well known recording stars.
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Old 06-11-2013, 05:39 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
I'd still maintain it's a valid argument. Are all professionally-published books perfect? No, certainly not. But they're typically a hell of a lot better than the typical indie book.
So where are the editors looking to try to help indie ebook authors? I haven't seen a single one offering their services, although that just means I haven't seen them.

And yes, if one was to offer reasonable rates, I'd definitely consider hiring them.
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Old 06-11-2013, 05:53 PM   #42
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So where are the editors looking to try to help indie ebook authors? I haven't seen a single one offering their services, although that just means I haven't seen them.

And yes, if one was to offer reasonable rates, I'd definitely consider hiring them.
There are lots of editors out there. I used Nancy Fulda for Under Witch Aura (she used to do some work for Baen). She is an incredible storyline editor. The woman knows her stuff inside and out. She works by referral only (and is probably booked solid for the year).

I do storyline editing and also copyediting in conjunction with my husband. I generally work from referrals as well.

So as to not be tooting my own horn, depending on what you are looking for, I can probably point you to a couple of other editors...one comes to mind that I haven't used, but I know she used to edit for one of the small publishers. Samhain? maybe? Not sure. I'd have to look. She's expensive from what I recall.

They're out there. But you have to shop around, know what you are paying for (copyediting is entirely different from storyline editing and so on).

It depends on what you need, but they are available all the way from 'last minute, quick read-through' for 25 dollars to 1700 for a package deal.
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Old 06-11-2013, 06:04 PM   #43
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I'd still maintain it's a valid argument. Are all professionally-published books perfect? No, certainly not. But they're typically a hell of a lot better than the typical indie book.
Absolutely.

I adore the self-pub ebook explosion; I read lots of self-published books, and... the vast majority are atrocious. Everyone with a word processor thinks he's an author. There are thousands of books available for sale that haven't been been hit with Microsoft Word's spellcheck, much less any actual grammar check, and no story/content editing whatsoever.

There's a small fraction of the self-pub market that's making big inroads on traditional publishing. That fraction is almost all well-written and innovative, and a lot of it is groundbreaking. There are some amazing books now available that traditional publishers wouldn't touch because they didn't fit genre expectations or didn't have "trendy" themes.

However, outside of that small number of terrific self-pub books, there are huge swarms of content for which the kindest thing that can be said is "the idea might be interesting if a good editor worked it over."

I consider it very much worth putting up with that content in order to get access to the good stuff. (Well, where "putting up with" means "clicking past it on Smashwords;" I try to avoid reading it.) I don't try to convince anyone that "most" self-pub ebooks are worth reading.
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Old 06-11-2013, 06:28 PM   #44
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If you like Baen books (and that's pretty broad because it's both sci/fi and fantasy) you might like:

Chris Strange: The Man Who Crossed Worlds
Andrea Host: Stained Glass Monsters

Those are two indies who come to mind in that genre. Both those are excellent books.

Wool did not interest me enough to even pick it up...and a friend of mine read it and found it on the depressing side so I know I won't be picking it up!
I read samples of the these two titles, about 15 pages each. The first, The Man Who Crossed Worlds, was IMO poorly written. I would put it in the "rubbish" pile. He overused pronouns. "I turned to the left ...", "I opened the refrigerator ...", "I looked up.", etc. He needs to show me and not tell me.

Stained Glass Monsters is better written although not my type of reading material. Her sentences did tend to ramble. She used very few adjectives instead preferring long prepositional phrases and run on sentences. Writing could be more concise. I also wasn't sure (possibly because I didn't read enough) whether this was a cozy para or low fantasy novel. I wouldn't call it "rubbish" but I wouldn't recommend it either. Easily forgettable.
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Old 06-11-2013, 06:31 PM   #45
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I consider it very much worth putting up with that content in order to get access to the good stuff. (Well, where "putting up with" means "clicking past it on Smashwords;" I try to avoid reading it.) I don't try to convince anyone that "most" self-pub ebooks are worth reading.
Don't think many people are saying that; most of us think there is nothing inherently superior to the gatekept books from the point of view of readers: there is crap on both side, there are jewels on both sides.

As the saying goes, "One person's trash is another's treasure." One person's "literary masterpiece" is another's boring pretentious trash or empty cliched junk. Again: tastes vary. There is room for everybody.

Where things get dicey is when people (with clear axes to grind) try to overgeneralize from some (indie/trad-pub) books are crap/good to *all* such are crap/good. That kind of overstatement is simple meaningless noise.

I may think the Snookie book is a waste of dead tree pulp but a lot of somebodies out there were quite willing to drop a good chunk of change on that "waste". I might chuckle at that but I'm not going to lose sleep over it.

Live and let die, guys.
Nobody is going to change their minds here.

But keep those recommendations coming; I'm taking notes.
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