Author Topic: Self e-publishing and quality - a critique  (Read 313 times)

Dave

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Self e-publishing and quality - a critique
« on: April 29, 2018, 01:24:30 PM »
Like many others I take advantage of the "boons" of those who self e-publish. I get through acres of print, mostly sc-fi and fantasy, every month. Ebooks are cheaper than coventially published books but is the quality the same?

I am going to have to differentiate between the quslity of the plot, inventive themes etc, that may be common to both - though a crap author will not get through the initial selection process but can still self publish on line. So, take two novels of a similar quality of creativity, inventiveness, both of approximately the same length. The conventially published book has to go through tough selection, editorial and proof reading stages before investment will be made in printing and advertising it.

I do not know, say, Amazon's current policy on acceptance but it used to be mininal, scanned for potentially libellous content (possibly electronically) and then unleashed at an initial price set by Amazon. I have bought books that have been beautifully written but with story lines as flat as pancakes or obviously plagiarised. The other end has been great plots and stories but written in such poor English, grammatically, in spelling and word in confusion (as in "they're" for "their") that, for pedantic ol' me, they are unreadable. It is quite evident that many of them are not even proof-read.

A second major subject if "stuffing", especially repetitive stuffing. This makes the book longer - so purchasers might feel they are getting more for their mobey. But on a ratio of Q:C, where Q is reading quality and C is the currency unit, a lower pp:C (where pp = pages) can equate to a higher E:C (enjoyment quotient). In a series of 13 novels on a common theme certain things are explained several times in each book. In one the vaguely amusing phrase, "... when the shit hits the fan..." is repeated almost ad nauseum, five times in one chapter if I remember correctly. I get the impression tgat if these unecessary repetitions where deleted each book in the series would be 10% of more shorter - but more oithy and enjoyable for this. And I would happily pay the same price.

Though I think the above poor practice may be forced on well known publishers by the publishers marketting strategy. Jean Auel's excellent, well written, series on paleolithic life in Europe also suffers from many repetitions, there are at least two, possibly three, long descriptions of tundra. But, if the publushers wanted books all equally thick stuffing may have been deemed necessary.

The third irksome category is, happily, less proliferant- uneeded but very explicit sex, especially lesbian sex. The worst offender that I have found that suffers this is  Niall Teasdale's "Thaumatology" series. A very inventive series that raises magic to pseudo scientific level, with theories, a sort of mathematical structure and its own particles etc. Chuck in some inventive characters, histories and themes and it is a great series (if you like this sort of thing).

But then there are the several pages long, mostly repetitive, descriptions of lesbian and ménage à tróis sex sessions - the seeming product of a 13 year old boy's we dreams. But you can't just ignore them, little bits of conversations included during these sexletic marathons are critical to the story - unless you actually enjoy these accounts you learn to scan those six pages (or more) for words without sexual connotations, read that sentence or three, then scan on.

But, on the whole I stick with ebooks, they are cheaper than paperbacks and, should I find that I have made a serious mistake in my choice, I do not feel so bad in "dumping" it. Once I would have donated such to a charity shop. But, having run a charity shop book depot, I know just how many such donations have to be dumped every week - not even recycled mostly. With the proliferation of ebook readers Oxfam have reduced their bookshelves by about 75% in the shop in which I worked. Once books were competetive with bric a brac as the two highest earners. Most of what is left is chiclit plus Mills and Boon, Christie, Bainbridge, O'Brien and the like. "Ladies books". A few sci-fi and crime novels, very few non-fiction and most of those crafts, gardening, cooking etc. No philosophy, history, travel (other tgan tourism), biography books tgat sold quite well to the then quite elderly gentlemen who freqented the shop, who are now probably in that great library in the sky . . .

Ho, hum, times change - and so do technologies, tastes and needs. Though which shapes the other, eh? Or is is mutual, evolutionary . . .


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xSilverPhinx

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Re: Self e-publishing and quality - a critique
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2018, 03:37:13 PM »
Reading books which contain grammos and typos can be distracting to the reader, I think, even if the story is one you enjoy. However, I can forgive such distractions if the story is captivating. Still, is it too much to ask for authors to get their work proofread before making it available for others to read? ::) 

As for self-published e-books, I don't know. It's possible a decent author might want to remove the publisher (they take a good portion of the earnings) from the equation and try their luck at self-publishing. E-books are perfectly suited for this, they are low cost and so can be sold at a low price. Of course no filter means the good, the lousy and everything in between can find their way onto virtual shelves to be sold...   
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Dave

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Re: Self e-publishing and quality - a critique
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2018, 03:47:43 PM »
Know what you mean, Silver! I cannot read anything without "proofreading" it and wanting to edit it. But, as you say, if the content is good one and the errors not too gross one can get enjoyment.

I offered to proofread one author's output for free. Though he acknowledged his errors he was quite aggressive in turning down my offer. I did not bother buying his books after that. Reading the reviews I was not the only one that had that opinion.
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xSilverPhinx

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Re: Self e-publishing and quality - a critique
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2018, 05:45:05 PM »
I offered to proofread one author's output for free. Though he acknowledged his errors he was quite aggressive in turning down my offer.

:eyebrow:

That's weird.
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Dave

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Re: Self e-publishing and quality - a critique
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2018, 06:33:42 PM »
I offered to proofread one author's output for free. Though he acknowledged his errors he was quite aggressive in turning down my offer.

:eyebrow:

That's weird.

So were his books to a degree!

  :snicker1:
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xSilverPhinx

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Re: Self e-publishing and quality - a critique
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2018, 11:06:58 PM »
I offered to proofread one author's output for free. Though he acknowledged his errors he was quite aggressive in turning down my offer.

:eyebrow:

That's weird.

So were his books to a degree!

  :snicker1:

:snicker: Weird as in different weird or as in weird weird?
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Dave

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Re: Self e-publishing and quality - a critique
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2018, 04:51:24 AM »
I offered to proofread one author's output for free. Though he acknowledged his errors he was quite aggressive in turning down my offer.

:eyebrow:

That's weird.

So were his books to a degree!

  :snicker1:

:snicker: Weird as in different weird or as in weird weird?

Weird weird. I am sure he was on something, or needed therapy..

Wish I could remember his name
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Arturo

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Re: Self e-publishing and quality - a critique
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2018, 05:15:45 AM »
I offered to proofread one author's output for free. Though he acknowledged his errors he was quite aggressive in turning down my offer.

:eyebrow:

That's weird.

So were his books to a degree!

  :snicker1:

:snicker: Weird as in different weird or as in weird weird?

Weird weird. I am sure he was on something, or needed therapy..

Wish I could remember his name
My mentally ill friends have published books online about their mental illness experiences. It actually has high ratings except for one where the reviewer was upset about misspellings and the fact that the book was not edited I guess? But you get what you pay for when you buy a self-published e-book. And it's even more amazing that he could concentrate enough and have the drive to complete that book.

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Dave

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Re: Self e-publishing and quality - a critique
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2018, 09:03:33 AM »
Quote
But you get what you pay for when you buy a self-published e-book.

True in some respects, Arturo, but if there are better written books for a similar price expect criticism and poor sales.
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Davin

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Re: Self e-publishing and quality - a critique
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2018, 02:55:29 PM »
Self publishing is a tough call. A publisher and an editor normally have a good idea about quality and/or what the audience wants. Sometimes they just push something through because the author is hot due to some recent public events, and sometimes the author has made enough of name for themselves and is able to bypass some of the requested changes. But mostly, the process produces good books, and some great books.

Self publishing simply removes those two gateways (editor and publisher even though they tend to go together they are still two separate gateways). Many authors also tend to bypass the agent gateway which can help keep the quality up. I like an author named Scott Sigler who tried to publish his books the traditional way. I think his books are good, but their genres are ambiguous. He has an agent and I think that helps keep his quality up.

I read several short stories from self published authors without agents, and that is more miss than hit. Even if I like one book by one author, there is no guarantee that I will like their other books.

Those are the three tiers as I see them. More good books come from the top editor and publisher tier where there are a lot of authors, then some good books come from the self published with an agent tier but hardly an authors are in that one, and then the least amount of good books come from the straight self-published level where there are the most amount of authors nowadays.

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