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dehro
2011-10-30, 06:55 PM
so I recently learned that one can basically put one's books for sale in the form of Kindle or other similar virtual publication method...thereby completely bypassing the scrutiny, selection process, waiting list and need to have an agent, a publisher, someone who gives proper feedback and/or criticism, or who even bounces your material if it's not up to par.

my first thought was "that's cool..hell.. great even!" because it means that a lot of people who don't have the connections, professional approach, capacity to sell themselves as authors or even the luck of being "discovered" by a publisher or editor get a chance to take their "writers career" in their own hand and show the world that they have got something interesting to say.

then however I started looking at the other side of the coin.. does this not also mean that a lot of crap is being published alongside stuff, romans or non fiction, that deserves to be published and actually has a decent quality?
this way any talentless moron who thinks they're the next best thing since Salman Rushdie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, will be cluttering the ...virtual shelves with his piles of crap.. thereby maybe hiding a true gem written by another self publishing author, who might just go unnoticed because now there are suddenly too many titles and sources to choose from

I'm all for giving talented people more chances than they get now, where their chance of being published may very well depend on how high their manuscript is placed in the pile of prospective books any given editor must browse through in search for something sellable..
I also don't like it when the destiny of a book depends on the judgement of a shortlist of people whose judgement may not always be fair or enlighted...

but isn't the oversimplified self-publication the web and kindle now offer doing more harm than good, by giving people a big stroke to their ego and taking a few coins from their pockets, but effectively just allowing a lot of dross to float in the sea of public attention, along with the the better pieces of material?

are there any forumites who are published authors, or who have experience in the field of publishing houses or indeed kindle production? what's your take on this and do you think that self publication, on a potentially massive scale, is a good thing, or not?

Raistlin1040
2011-10-30, 10:16 PM
As someone who has written novels and intends to publish eventually, I would never self-publish. To me, self publishing to publishing is as fiddling around with a video camera is to directing a movie. Sure, you can get your material out, someone might see it and like it, and best case scenario you get a deal on a book or movie. However, I certainly wouldn't pay for a novel a stranger wrote if it hadn't been proof-read, editted, and been approved by a reputable publishing company.

In my opinion, self-publishing a novel just says "I don't think I'm good enough to make it." Now, independent culture is a growing thing and I'd probably read a book published by a little independent publisher, just as I'd watch a movie by a small cinema company, but I don't have time to read everything. I'd rather read something that I know has been looked at by a fair amount of people over something that was self-published by an author whose mom/girlfriend/friend said it was pretty good.

SaintRidley
2011-10-30, 11:34 PM
As someone who has written novels and intends to publish eventually, I would never self-publish. To me, self publishing to publishing is as fiddling around with a video camera is to directing a movie. Sure, you can get your material out, someone might see it and like it, and best case scenario you get a deal on a book or movie. However, I certainly wouldn't pay for a novel a stranger wrote if it hadn't been proof-read, editted, and been approved by a reputable publishing company.

In my opinion, self-publishing a novel just says "I don't think I'm good enough to make it." Now, independent culture is a growing thing and I'd probably read a book published by a little independent publisher, just as I'd watch a movie by a small cinema company, but I don't have time to read everything. I'd rather read something that I know has been looked at by a fair amount of people over something that was self-published by an author whose mom/girlfriend/friend said it was pretty good.

Exactly this, only far more eloquently than I would have put it.

The bypassing of the publishing process, which involves editing by those trained in editing among other things (seriously, publicity? get published traditionally and you might get a small budget together to actually publicize your book, self-publishing puts the time and cost on you), smells of cheating to me.

Not only does it say you're not good enough to make it the hard way, but it also implies that the author feels superior to the traditional process. "What good are editors?" I've heard asked from the person who could not be bothered to respect the workshop process enough to actually show up on time.

The ease of self-publishing has essentially stripped the one barrier to entry that vanity presses used to have: a cost. Used to be self-publishing cost you money and you would then be stuck marketing and selling your stuff on your own. If you couldn't sell enough to make back your investment, tough. Now? Kindle publishing doesn't cost anything as I understand it, so the cost disincentive has officially gone the way of the dodo.

It smells of cheating, laziness, and arrogance to me. Making it easier only exacerbates the problem, in my opinion.

Lord Seth
2011-10-31, 12:44 AM
my first thought was "that's cool..hell.. great even!" because it means that a lot of people who don't have the connections, professional approach, capacity to sell themselves as authors or even the luck of being "discovered" by a publisher or editor get a chance to take their "writers career" in their own hand and show the world that they have got something interesting to say.Who will then have the world NOT know they had something interesting to say because, without the connections, professional approach, capacity to sell themselves as authors, or even the luck of being "discovered," no one will be reading it.

Really, how many even mildly successful self-published books can you think of where the author wasn't already known somehow, which caused people to check it out? For example, Nuklear Age did okay, but that's because Brian Clevinger had the popularity of 8-Bit Theater to launch from.

dehro
2011-10-31, 04:05 AM
Really, how many even mildly successful self-published books can you think of where the author wasn't already known somehow, which caused people to check it out? For example, Nuklear Age did okay, but that's because Brian Clevinger had the popularity of 8-Bit Theater to launch from.

Christopher effin' Paolini kind of went that way..:smallmad:
also, in another field (but still related because it's pretty much the same process): arctic monkeys, who got their shot at fame thanks to internet and word of mouth..

I'm not advocating that it's a road to success, mind you..in fact I would agree with the previous posters that doing it the hard way is somewhat better.. because it gives me as a reader more of an assurance that a number of people have worked over the book, editing, finetuning, judging it worthy and so on..
what I HAVE noticed is that very often being published (and supported) or not, especially by the larger companies, is very much in the hands of Lady Luck... at least as much as it is in the quality of the writing/singing/music and in the hard work put in it.
connections and money can make up for lack of actual quality in the writing .. but it seems to me that quality and talent are, way too often, not a guarantee that you'll get published..not even "eventually at some remote later date".
I believe strongly in the value of shareware, sharing knowledge and experience and letting everybody bring their contribute to culture and the improvement of society in general..
in this case however, it seems to me that the lure of free publicizing might in fact end up doing more damage than it does good..
I can already see the deluded "I'm a published author" kind of ego masturbation become this new millennium's new "cultural plague"

Evrine
2011-10-31, 07:17 AM
About ten years ago I tried to publish a novel, no success. I've written a lot since then, but probably not as much as I could have. I've considered publishing via Kindle, and once I've polished up a few short stories, I'm going to give it a go.

I look at it like this: literary magazines are for the most part a thing of the past, with only a very niche market. Even traditional publishing is taking a hit due to the decline of book stores. Digital publishing offers a much wider audience and few barriers to entry.

There's a much greater potential for success the wider your audience is. That's all that really matters. The cultural landscape for reading is changing, and the digital format is where it's going.

This article (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kiriblakeley/2011/03/24/kindle-millionaire-amanda-hocking-goes-traditional/) is very relevant. She's made a career for herself solely through publishing on Kindle. I don't know whether her books are good or not, but that's immaterial, she's sold nearly a million copies of her stories and now has a deal for four books through a more traditional publisher.

Obviously not everyone will be as successful as she is, but given our cultural milieu, digital publishing offers a potential that traditional publishing really can't.

CarpeGuitarrem
2011-10-31, 09:57 AM
Who will then have the world NOT know they had something interesting to say because, without the connections, professional approach, capacity to sell themselves as authors, or even the luck of being "discovered," no one will be reading it.

Really, how many even mildly successful self-published books can you think of where the author wasn't already known somehow, which caused people to check it out? For example, Nuklear Age did okay, but that's because Brian Clevinger had the popularity of 8-Bit Theater to launch from.
8-bit Theater had to launch from somewhere. :smallwink:

I believe that self-publishing is a perfectly viable option. See, by self-publishing, you forego many of the benefits that come along with publishing, such as having a respected name behind your book, getting automatic marketing, getting layout design (though with the Kindle, this is less of an issue, because it sorta auto-formats from an HTMLish file), and covering printing costs should you choose not to e-publish or print-on-demand publish. It's a tradeoff.

But why self-publish, if going with a publisher is a great way to sort out quality? Well, here's a funny little fact: publishers toss out plenty of really good stuff too. You may have publishing-worthy work, but there's just no room to publish it.

Any prominent author is up against severe competition, especially if they don't have prior publishing experience to back themselves up. A publishing company can only publish a select number of books each year, because every book means they have to devote part of their printing resources to it, they have to devote part of their marketing to it, and they have to make it turn a profit. Not only that, but publishing companies want to turn the largest possible profit.

What that boils down to is that unless your book is the most profitable pitch they've seen in a good while, it's not going anywhere. With that in mind, let's take a look at some books that wouldn't generally fly, unless you were really lucky...

High-risk fiction: the publishing industry is safe. If you want to try something crazy, such as killing off the main character mid-story, they're often not gonna go for it. Why? Because the large majority of readers have expectations, and things like that rock their boat, which leads to many of them getting turned off. In other words, unhappy customers who are probably not going to buy any of your further books and possibly buy fewer books from that publisher.
Niche stories: you love to write pre-Edwardian dystopian steampunk? Cool! But chances are, there are not a lot of readers out there who enjoy the same topic. What if you want to make a stick-figure comic, with humor based in D&D (oh, the irony!), and get that professionally published? In the eyes of the publishers: too bad for you. You should've written something generic that appeals to the masses, so that they can sell more.
Unpopular topics: not a lot of people like to hear about toilet cleaning, or something that offends their religious or political sensibilities. Granted, there are some potentially offensive topics that publishers leverage in order to generate more sales via sensationalism, thus offsetting the people offended. But if your story has a unique and unpopular take on something, particularly in those arenas, you can kiss that publisher contract goodbye. Again, see that bit about "rocking the boat".
New stories: publishers love to have pre-existing reader bases. If you're not an established author, there's a lot more you have to get through to break into the business.


Simply put, there's a lot of reasons why you might want to legitimately self-publish, not just because your work isn't good enough. People seem to forget that this is how publishing started, and that publishing houses are nothing more than very famous businesses.

Someone mentioned making movies before, and I think that's an interesting comparison. That would seem to imply that one can only make quality movies if they are backed by a famous studio in Hollywood. And yet we have these little "film festivals" all over, with really good independently-made movies on a pretty slim budget.

Publishing of all sorts of things is far more accessible to people than it was 30 years ago, and "vanity publishing" is not the proper term any longer. We have the tools able to give people the chance to find their own audience, to sell to the people who will appreciate their books the most.

It's good enough for Rich Burlew (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0001.html), Alina Pete (http://www.weregeek.com/2006/11/27/), and the Foglios (http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20021104). It's certainly good enough for you, as long as you're willing to put in a little more elbow grease and variety of work than most authors. If you want to be writer, designer, and agent, this is certainly the route for you.

Tyndmyr
2011-10-31, 10:05 AM
IMO, self-publishing can be legit if you have the means to generate your own publicity. If you have a popular website, are known for other works, etc...it can be a thing.

Sure, you'll get the vanity press things. This existed with print books as well...but nobody actually bought the terrible books nobody liked. Nor did they get any attention. I suspect little will actually change regarding the types of books that are well known and get attention and sales.

Telonius
2011-10-31, 10:11 AM
then however I started looking at the other side of the coin.. does this not also mean that a lot of crap is being published alongside stuff, romans or non fiction, that deserves to be published and actually has a decent quality?
this way any talentless moron who thinks they're the next best thing since Salman Rushdie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, will be cluttering the ...virtual shelves with his piles of crap.. thereby maybe hiding a true gem written by another self publishing author, who might just go unnoticed because now there are suddenly too many titles and sources to choose from


A quick walk down the aisles of my local Barnes and Noble tells me this problem is not exclusive to self-published books. Publishers and bookstores are not in the business of sorting out high-quality books, they're in the business of sorting out high-profit books. This sometimes overlaps (JK Rowling), but not always (Robert Jordan).

CarpeGuitarrem
2011-10-31, 10:21 AM
A quick walk down the aisles of my local Barnes and Noble tells me this problem is not exclusive to self-published books. Publishers and bookstores are not in the business of sorting out high-quality books, they're in the business of sorting out high-profit books. This sometimes overlaps (JK Rowling), but not always (Robert Jordan).
Bam. I couldn't have put it better myself.

Lord Seth
2011-10-31, 11:58 AM
8-bit Theater had to launch from somewhere. :smallwink:Except 8-Bit Theater was free. Kindle books aren't. That's a critical difference. I was referring to self-published series that cost money. Pretty much every webcomic I know of is available for free (at most, they may have some bonus material you can pay for), so it's a different thing.


It's good enough for Rich Burlew (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0001.html),Rich Burlew had done some work for Wizards of the Coast beforehand so he had, in his own words, some "paltry name recognition." Further, as noted above, Order of the Stick was available for free from the start.


Alina Pete (http://www.weregeek.com/2006/11/27/),Unlike Rich or the Foglios (who I'll get to next), I can't comment on if he had some kind of vehicle beforehand for popularity (though for what it's worth, I'm not sure how popular it is, having never heard of it beforehand...), but once again: Like pretty much all webcomics, it seems to have been available for free from the start.


and the Foglios (http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20021104).Who had a reasonable amount of clout before Girl Genius ever existed. Seriously, before Girl Genius was put online (or even existed in the first place--it originally was published in printed volumes), Phil Foglio had won and been nominated for Hugo Awards, had comics published in multiple magazines (Dragon, The Duelist), and he and Kaja had illustrated some Magic: the Gathering cards. And did I mention the fact that when it became a webcomic, it was available for free?

CarpeGuitarrem
2011-10-31, 12:01 PM
Lord Seth: And the point is, they did what any successful self-publisher needs to do: marketing and publicity. This publicity came under various circumstances, and in different levels, but it was there.

Any self-published author with the right publicity can be successful. (by self-publishing, I do refer to the print books which each author publishes, not the free webcomic)

Lord Seth
2011-10-31, 12:10 PM
Lord Seth: And the point is, they did what any successful self-publisher needs to do: marketing and publicity.But again, the fact they were free made it easy for people to check it out with no loss, thus making it easier. For someone to actually buy something, they're going to need to luck out on some form of way of getting people to buy it, which is almost always going to have to come from the author's personal recognition.

I can take a "risk" on a webcomic because the worst I've lost is a small amount of time if I don't like it. Not so much for a self-published book, be it online or in print.

Lost Demiurge
2011-10-31, 12:38 PM
But again, the fact they were free made it easy for people to check it out with no loss, thus making it easier. For someone to actually buy something, they're going to need to luck out on some form of way of getting people to buy it, which is almost always going to have to come from the author's personal recognition.

I can take a "risk" on a webcomic because the worst I've lost is a small amount of time if I don't like it. Not so much for a self-published book, be it online or in print.

And some self-publishing kindle sites let you put up excerpts of your book for free.

My wife is experimenting with self-publishing. She and her friend have been playing around with fanfiction for years, and she decided that it's time to try an original story line. So they put up their best entry as a kindle download, and started working on other books for the line.

I believe that the first book's free, and the others will be purchaseable only.

As to my general view on the phenomenon of self-publishing... Well, it's about damn time! Big publishing companies reject a huge amount of material, most of it bad but some of it good. This is a chance to bypass their bottleneck. Sure, a lot of the self-published stuff is gonna be bad. SO WHAT? So's a lot of the published stuff.

This is a chance to make a little money on the side, and also attract a dead tree publisher without having established chops, connections, or great amounts of luck.

Why not see where it goes?

Lord Seth
2011-10-31, 01:27 PM
Oh, two things I forgot to respond to.
Christopher effin' Paolini kind of went that way..:smallmad:Not really. While Eragon hitting it big was because a larger publishing company happened to take note of it, the reason it got published in the first place was because his parents owned a (small) publishing company and published it that way.
Someone mentioned making movies before, and I think that's an interesting comparison. That would seem to imply that one can only make quality movies if they are backed by a famous studio in Hollywood. And yet we have these little "film festivals" all over, with really good independently-made movies on a pretty slim budget.The problem is that unless you're going by a shoe-string budget (and maybe even then), the money to fund it is going to have to come from somewhere. Maybe it's a small studio, maybe it's an investor of some kind, but movies cost money to make and you'll have to come up with it somehow. Heck, even a movie as low budget and sloppily made as Birdemic cost about $10,000 to make.

JediSoth
2011-11-02, 12:45 PM
My novel is "self-published." I do not consider it drek. I do not consider myself not "good enough to make it."

The fact of the matter is, I paid an editor to edit my manuscript. I went through several revisions and peer review before putting my work out there. I paid for cover art. My layout was done by a professional (I get paid to do that sort of thing in my "real" job, ergo I am a professional when it comes to page layout, plus I have gotten paid to do so on RPG products for Rite Publishing, so I consider myself qualified to layout a novel). The ONLY thing a NY publisher could do for me is throw more money at marketing than I can afford.

However, since I was a no-name unpublished, there wasn't going to be much marketing money for me anyway. Plus, there are several factors that make breaking into "traditional publishing" a lottery:

You have to query the right agent at the right time. Writing queries is a different skill than writing fiction, i.e. selling & producing are two different skill sets.
The agent has to then sell your manuscript to the right publishing house and the right time.
During this time, you cannot sell this manuscript to someone else.
During the queries process, you do not always get feedback. You may go a year or more between sending the manuscript to the agent and getting a response. Sometimes (particularly in the case of rejection), there is no response.
The response time between an agent and a publisher can also be years.
In the meantime, you are making no money and receiving no feedback for your work.
The publisher could agree to purchase your manuscript. Huzzah! You've "Made It." Oh wait, Pirate Zombie Ninjas are LAST YEAR. They decide not to publish your book after all. The concept is two years old and no longer marketable. Try again, please.
You might get lucky. They might love it. It might be timeless. It might get fast-tracked.


I could go on. Michael Stackpole (http://www.stormwolf.com) (whom you might remember as the best-selling author of several Star Wars & Battletech novels) has a LOT of information about self-publishing at his website.

Yes, there are a lot of untalented people publishing first drafts because they can. There are also a lot of people who see the ship of Traditional Publishing sinking and do not wish to chain themselves to the disaster that is. Many of these people hire editors and artists and produce a professional-quality product that is equal in technical quality to anything you find with a "real" publishers logo on it.

When you poo-poo Indie authors, remember: "real" publishers decide what to print based on what they believe will make them money. Not necessarily what they think is good. And I haven't even gotten into the whole author payments side of the equation. There's a reason Michael Stackpole likens them to "house slaves." We Indie authors are no less authors than someone like George R. R. Martin or Robert Jordan. We may not have the name recognition, but they didn't either when they started.

I challenge you to look me straight in the face and tell me everything put out by a "real" publisher is good. Quality is so subjective, I'm not going to tell you there's Indie stuff out there better than stuff I've paid for from a NY publisher, you'll have to judge that for yourself. But if you DO decide to judge it, at least go and read some of the good stuff first.

Knaight
2011-11-02, 12:54 PM
Heck, even a movie as low budget and sloppily made as Birdemic cost about $10,000 to make.

At the same time, Ink's budget was around the same amount, and it is a very good movie that has production values closer to the professional.

Lord Seth
2011-11-02, 01:23 PM
At the same time, Ink's budget was around the same amount, and it is a very good movie that has production values closer to the professional.Close to the same amount? Ink's budget, from what I can tell, was around $250,000. That's a pretty big difference.

Soras Teva Gee
2011-11-02, 01:37 PM
Speaking as a heavy Kindle user I would say that I've yet to notice anything distinctly self-published, though presumably some of the small stuff I've nabbed for a few dollars might be. I know I personally would not buy something self published without substantial savings over what I'd pay for a paperback. As yet the Kindlestore is still going to be dominated by books with publishers behind them I think.

More power to those who want to try it.


A quick walk down the aisles of my local Barnes and Noble tells me this problem is not exclusive to self-published books. Publishers and bookstores are not in the business of sorting out high-quality books, they're in the business of sorting out high-profit books. This sometimes overlaps (JK Rowling), but not always (Robert Jordan).

That's really who your going with there for examples? I agree with your point but I am actually really offended at your choices of examples there. And I normally try to avoid fan wanking when someone insults series I enjoy

While I'd be the first to say the Wheel of Time isn't for everyone even taking a negative view I would put it ahead of numerous other "authors" out there.

Heck I'd even be willing to venture there are entire genres (the cheap romance novels) that are more indicative of your point then Robert Jordan. For shame.

Tyndmyr
2011-11-02, 01:50 PM
Nah, he sells books, but they're not really masterpiece's of literature.

And yknow, it's ok to like books that are not fantastically written. I've read a ton of 60's sci fi, and some of that stuff is utterly terrible. Robert Jordan is an excellent example of his point.

Soras Teva Gee
2011-11-02, 03:31 PM
Nah, he sells books, but they're not really masterpiece's of literature.

And yknow, it's ok to like books that are not fantastically written. I've read a ton of 60's sci fi, and some of that stuff is utterly terrible. Robert Jordan is an excellent example of his point.

While I recognize the subjective nature I read Robert Jordan because I consider them better then other books. I cannot get the level of detail in plotting and scale of plot in other series. Its frankly a wonder to me that something as dense in material as his writing is published and successful. I love being able to pick out things like a minor character showing up entire books before they become important, or even not being important but simply having a small role somewhere else. I've never read a series where I felt I got so much more out of it on a third or fifth reading.

And I'd put Rowling as first on the list of high-profit but not actually that good, for what it is its okay but Harry Potter is light fluff. I find almost everything about magic and wizard society in the series to be terribly terribly juvenile with only minimal thought put into it. Even Rowling admits that a couple of assault rifles would solve just about everything, and assault rifle have to exist in that world. Voldemort has a bad rep but I still don't know that it was ever established why its so bad you can't say Voldemort for more then making him seem like a badass. Then there's the increasingly artificial structure of the year=book idea. The teenager plots are like every story about middle and high school ever. Every character but Snape has roundly failed to evoke interest. And the main character has way to many contrived coincidences going his way for him, for the scale of things.

However I would put Rowling worlds above other examples.

Dan Brown? I've never read a book I had so little interest in reading again as the Da Vinci Code. Even ignoring it making some tin-foil hat theories sound well thought out its at best disposable fiction that consumed two hours of my time. And that's if I ignore the ending being an excuse for the main character to get laid. I do not think something can chew through in under two hours deserves what it got.

Stephenie Meyer? She used her repressed wet dream (seriously that's why vamps there sparkle) to create a serious for tween girls and their mothers to have repressed G-rated fantasies. Just to start. I've yet to find anything about it that doesn't sound ripped from the more execrable parts of fan-fiction. Its fan fiction without an original, and not the cool sort of fan fic either.

Christopher Paolini? Published because this kids parents own a company for starters. Fantasy is fairly derivative genre, but I struggle to find something more utterly derivative then this series.

And those are just three that enjoy something like broad success. I could go forever on less horrible examples, like how George R.R. Martin has straight into the problems Jordan gets hit for a mere five books into his. Or how while I love it to death Jim Butcher has yet to establish he can truly write anyone but Harry Dresden.

And there are once good author's that collapse utterly when at least before kicking the bucket Jordan showed signs of improving from his low point. When I look at something like Orson Scott Cards continuing work I could cry about the fate of the guy that wrote some of my favorite works in the four Ender books.

Or finally going into niche markets there's there's the bulk of fiction produced for D&D, 40k, Warcraft, etc. Yeah I find a few gems but the most of the ones I've sampled have made R.A. Salvatore's early work look good. Most of them deserve to be their small niche's to cash in on other properties.

And again there's the entire genres that populate in grocery stores rather then actual book stores.

Knaight
2011-11-02, 11:24 PM
Close to the same amount? Ink's budget, from what I can tell, was around $250,000. That's a pretty big difference.

The other Ink.

Lord Seth
2011-11-03, 05:33 PM
The other Ink.You'll have to clarify what the "other Ink" is, then, because the only movie I can find with that name is the 2009 film. Wikipedia lists no other film, and nothing on IMDB with the name "Ink" seems to be a full-length film.

Seerow
2011-11-03, 05:44 PM
While I recognize the subjective nature I read Robert Jordan because I consider them better then other books. I cannot get the level of detail in plotting and scale of plot in other series. Its frankly a wonder to me that something as dense in material as his writing is published and successful. I love being able to pick out things like a minor character showing up entire books before they become important, or even not being important but simply having a small role somewhere else. I've never read a series where I felt I got so much more out of it on a third or fifth reading.

And I'd put Rowling as first on the list of high-profit but not actually that good, for what it is its okay but Harry Potter is light fluff. I find almost everything about magic and wizard society in the series to be terribly terribly juvenile with only minimal thought put into it. Even Rowling admits that a couple of assault rifles would solve just about everything, and assault rifle have to exist in that world. Voldemort has a bad rep but I still don't know that it was ever established why its so bad you can't say Voldemort for more then making him seem like a badass. Then there's the increasingly artificial structure of the year=book idea. The teenager plots are like every story about middle and high school ever. Every character but Snape has roundly failed to evoke interest. And the main character has way to many contrived coincidences going his way for him, for the scale of things.

However I would put Rowling worlds above other examples.

Dan Brown? I've never read a book I had so little interest in reading again as the Da Vinci Code. Even ignoring it making some tin-foil hat theories sound well thought out its at best disposable fiction that consumed two hours of my time. And that's if I ignore the ending being an excuse for the main character to get laid. I do not think something can chew through in under two hours deserves what it got.

Stephenie Meyer? She used her repressed wet dream (seriously that's why vamps there sparkle) to create a serious for tween girls and their mothers to have repressed G-rated fantasies. Just to start. I've yet to find anything about it that doesn't sound ripped from the more execrable parts of fan-fiction. Its fan fiction without an original, and not the cool sort of fan fic either.

Christopher Paolini? Published because this kids parents own a company for starters. Fantasy is fairly derivative genre, but I struggle to find something more utterly derivative then this series.

And those are just three that enjoy something like broad success. I could go forever on less horrible examples, like how George R.R. Martin has straight into the problems Jordan gets hit for a mere five books into his. Or how while I love it to death Jim Butcher has yet to establish he can truly write anyone but Harry Dresden.

And there are once good author's that collapse utterly when at least before kicking the bucket Jordan showed signs of improving from his low point. When I look at something like Orson Scott Cards continuing work I could cry about the fate of the guy that wrote some of my favorite works in the four Ender books.

Or finally going into niche markets there's there's the bulk of fiction produced for D&D, 40k, Warcraft, etc. Yeah I find a few gems but the most of the ones I've sampled have made R.A. Salvatore's early work look good. Most of them deserve to be their small niche's to cash in on other properties.

And again there's the entire genres that populate in grocery stores rather then actual book stores.

Agreed with pretty much every word you wrote here. You have taste in literature that is amazingly closely aligned with my own.

Story Time
2011-11-03, 06:04 PM
are there any forumites who are published authors, or who have experience in the field of publishing houses or indeed kindle production? what's your take on this and do you think that self publication, on a potentially massive scale, is a good thing, or not?

...every agent...every publisher...and every personal representative that I have ever met in the professional publishing industry has either lied, betrayed, or ignored me to my face. At times it was all of the above and in the order described.

The truth about self-publishing is that no one else can mess-up the process. In other words, the self-published author does not have to depend on others who may, or may not, succeed in their mostly verbal affirmations. Contracts which require signing are usually traps. While a lawyer can tell you what is legal about a contract, only a really good friend, or lots of research, will tell you personally whether the contract is a good idea or not.

Royalty checks from publishing companies are the last checks sent out. They usually require multiple signatures and almost never arrive on time. Specifically, that means six months late, at the least.


I will choose to not add my thoughts about Kindle.

Tyndmyr
2011-11-04, 07:56 AM
While I recognize the subjective nature I read Robert Jordan because I consider them better then other books. I cannot get the level of detail in plotting and scale of plot in other series. Its frankly a wonder to me that something as dense in material as his writing is published and successful. I love being able to pick out things like a minor character showing up entire books before they become important, or even not being important but simply having a small role somewhere else. I've never read a series where I felt I got so much more out of it on a third or fifth reading.

Toss in lots of minor chars, and that becomes fairly easy. I'd rank Butcher much higher on this scale. He's clearly got something of a plan.


And I'd put Rowling as first on the list of high-profit but not actually that good, for what it is its okay but Harry Potter is light fluff. I find almost everything about magic and wizard society in the series to be terribly terribly juvenile with only minimal thought put into it. Even Rowling admits that a couple of assault rifles would solve just about everything, and assault rifle have to exist in that world. Voldemort has a bad rep but I still don't know that it was ever established why its so bad you can't say Voldemort for more then making him seem like a badass. Then there's the increasingly artificial structure of the year=book idea. The teenager plots are like every story about middle and high school ever. Every character but Snape has roundly failed to evoke interest. And the main character has way to many contrived coincidences going his way for him, for the scale of things.

However I would put Rowling worlds above other examples.

It's a young adult series. It's really quite good for what it is, so I'm not going to call her out as a poor author. It's not realistic, sure...but honestly, that's not what it's about. That said, if you have such complaints, I'd like to direct you to Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.


Dan Brown? I've never read a book I had so little interest in reading again as the Da Vinci Code. Even ignoring it making some tin-foil hat theories sound well thought out its at best disposable fiction that consumed two hours of my time. And that's if I ignore the ending being an excuse for the main character to get laid. I do not think something can chew through in under two hours deserves what it got.

No argument. I despise Dan Brown immensely, and he is also a wonderful(possibly the perfect) example of a poor author who manages to make money.


Stephenie Meyer? She used her repressed wet dream (seriously that's why vamps there sparkle) to create a serious for tween girls and their mothers to have repressed G-rated fantasies. Just to start. I've yet to find anything about it that doesn't sound ripped from the more execrable parts of fan-fiction. Its fan fiction without an original, and not the cool sort of fan fic either.

Look...while they're not my usual style, I'm forced to admit that she is a good author. It's unfortunate that it's garnered so much hype and spawned such terrible movies, but for the romance genre, they are actually quite well written. And yes, I'm forced to admit that I've read all these. As well as the alien one.


Christopher Paolini? Published because this kids parents own a company for starters. Fantasy is fairly derivative genre, but I struggle to find something more utterly derivative then this series.

No argument on any of that, but wasn't he used as an example earlier already?


And those are just three that enjoy something like broad success. I could go forever on less horrible examples, like how George R.R. Martin has straight into the problems Jordan gets hit for a mere five books into his. Or how while I love it to death Jim Butcher has yet to establish he can truly write anyone but Harry Dresden.

I am also not a fan of Martin...but I feel it necessary to point out that for Butcher, his Codex Alera series is actually rated higher than Dresden Files in the top 100 sci fi/fantasy list. Sure, he sticks to Dresden pretty strongly in the Dresden Files...but it's first person. That's to be expected.

Also, I find it unusual that an author is successful at writing both first and third person stories with a very different style to them. Most authors have one very distinct style that they stick pretty closely to.


And there are once good author's that collapse utterly when at least before kicking the bucket Jordan showed signs of improving from his low point. When I look at something like Orson Scott Cards continuing work I could cry about the fate of the guy that wrote some of my favorite works in the four Ender books.

Yeah, that happens too...but that's rather a different point. It wouldn't have supported his "initially getting published" point. Once you have been successful, it's a lot easier to keep being published.


Or finally going into niche markets there's there's the bulk of fiction produced for D&D, 40k, Warcraft, etc. Yeah I find a few gems but the most of the ones I've sampled have made R.A. Salvatore's early work look good. Most of them deserve to be their small niche's to cash in on other properties.

And again there's the entire genres that populate in grocery stores rather then actual book stores.

Granted, but those are mostly cashing in on other popular things instead of being independent works in their own right. Books based on video games are like video games based on movies. Generally terrible, but they're an easy way to make money.

It would have been a decent example, but Jordan makes one too, and as an author, he's far more recognizable than most of those guys. Makes for a much better point.

Friv
2011-11-04, 08:11 AM
As someone who is currently self-publishing, I might as well throw my hat into the ring.

Personally, I agree with a lot of what's been said, but I also think it doesn't necessarily contradict the basic advantages of self-publishing. A lot of self-published things have sections of their material online, so that people can read some of it and figure out what they like. Some more traditional authors have started doing that too (technically, if you count libraries, nearly every published author does it). With short turnaround times, and with a vastly larger portion of sales going to the author, it's a great avenue for sales.

On the other hand, yeah, the pitfalls of crap and poor editing are a serious problem. I don't have the cash to hire a proper editor, but I'm lucky enough to have several friends who majored in the subject, so I can get a couple of people to edit my book and point out suggestions.

Also, I would jump on any proper publishing company's bandwagon, and have submitted things to companies in the past. The two paths aren't exclusionary; you can do both.

Telonius
2011-11-07, 04:17 PM
That's really who your going with there for examples? I agree with your point but I am actually really offended at your choices of examples there. And I normally try to avoid fan wanking when someone insults series I enjoy

While I'd be the first to say the Wheel of Time isn't for everyone even taking a negative view I would put it ahead of numerous other "authors" out there.

Heck I'd even be willing to venture there are entire genres (the cheap romance novels) that are more indicative of your point then Robert Jordan. For shame.

Sorry for the late reply here - been out of internet contact for a few days.

There are definitely other authors who are a whole lot worse. And it's not that Jordan never wrote anything good - I really enjoyed the first three in the series. The plots were tight, the scenes all had reason to be there, the characterization was great, the setting was awesome, I loved the description. The first three books were great. But then there was a sharp, rapid drop. That extremely sharp contrast, plus the fact that Jordan has more name recognition than anybody in fantasy whose name isn't Tolkien, Lewis, or Rowling, is why I picked him as the example.

Reasons for dislike of Jordan's later work spoilered below - feel free to ignore if you like.

This is only my opinion, but after about book 3 or 4, it descended into what was, for me, some pretty grim quality. Not Storm Constantine-level awfulness (thank God), but it's as though he forgot everything he knew about the craft of writing. If a scene does not advance the plot, provide some new insight into a character, set the mood, or at the very least interest the reader, it should be removed. By that standard, almost all of Winter's Heart could have been, and (imo) should have been, deleted.

This is as much a massive editing problem as it is a massive writing problem. But as his editor also happened to be his wife, I assign a lot more of the blame to him than I ordinarily would. The publisher, Tor, also bears a lot of the blame; they never cared enough about the quality to demand better as the series progressed. As long as everybody kept plunking down money for the next volume, they were fine with it. (Which is another reason I chose it as an example).

While Winter's Heart was the worst offender, I think the structure criticism applies to some degree to all of the books after around 3 or so. At some point, I really stopped caring what happened to the main characters, because nothing seemed to happen. This is not a function of me not liking dense works, or losing track of dozens of characters; my copies of the Silmarillion and Le Morte D'Arthur are almost falling apart from over-use. The difference was that those books engaged me throughout. There was always a reason for me to keep reading. But with some of the later books, I felt like I'd been cheated out of my $8.

Even some of the more popcorn-ish stuff like Thieves' World, or pick a Piers Anthony book, never left me that disappointed. Even Wraeth'thu (God help me) kept me reading, if only for the train-wreck appeal. Robert Jordan and Ayn Rand are the only authors who have ever seemed so pointless that I stopped reading the thing. (Rand has the distinction of being the only one to do so mid-book).

Soras Teva Gee
2011-11-07, 05:52 PM
I am also not a fan of Martin...but I feel it necessary to point out that for Butcher, his Codex Alera series is actually rated higher than Dresden Files in the top 100 sci fi/fantasy list. Sure, he sticks to Dresden pretty strongly in the Dresden Files...but it's first person. That's to be expected.

Also, I find it unusual that an author is successful at writing both first and third person stories with a very different style to them. Most authors have one very distinct style that they stick pretty closely to.

I can't speak for that list or how they it is decided however while I do not dislike Codex Alera it reads more like... I don't know like adapting a video game. The character just lack a certain depth and the story seems I don't know not quite organic. You could fairly easily make a good RTS Warcraft/Starcraft clone out of the books. Given that the main baddie are the Zerg and all. In general when it comes up I see a broad response of people liking it... but still preferring Dresden.

And on Dresden. While not in the main books he has also written fairly sizable novellas from the POVs of Thomas, Marcone, and Murphy. In which they spend their entire time explaining they are not Harry Dresden, while showing how much they are. Now mind you they obviously were a lot like Harry outside their POVs too, but its why I'd maintain we will never see a POV from resident paladin Michael.




Yeah, that happens too...but that's rather a different point. It wouldn't have supported his "initially getting published" point. Once you have been successful, it's a lot easier to keep being published.

Granted, but those are mostly cashing in on other popular things instead of being independent works in their own right. Books based on video games are like video games based on movies. Generally terrible, but they're an easy way to make money.

It would have been a decent example, but Jordan makes one too, and as an author, he's far more recognizable than most of those guys. Makes for a much better point.

Generally speaking whether big name or unknown, old hand or newbie... books all fall into the same price scales.

Thus I stand by there being far far better examples of "chosen to sell" over "chosen for quality"


There are definitely other authors who are a whole lot worse. And it's not that Jordan never wrote anything good - I really enjoyed the first three in the series. The plots were tight, the scenes all had reason to be there, the characterization was great, the setting was awesome, I loved the description. The first three books were great. But then there was a sharp, rapid drop. That extremely sharp contrast, plus the fact that Jordan has more name recognition than anybody in fantasy whose name isn't Tolkien, Lewis, or Rowling, is why I picked him as the example.

I wouldn't want to sort out who exactly has the most recognition, but Jordan is definitely not an unrivaled #4 in prominence. I'd start with George Martin, what with ASoFaI having a successful TV adaption for one, for one a quick check having multiple top 20s on my Kindle list. Then there's these Terry guys: Goodkind, Brooks, Pratchett. I believe I have already mention Butcher, Paolini, and Meyer who all still fall under a fantasy umbrella. Then's there's classics like Robert Howard. Going across the practically non-existent line to Sci-Fi and we've can start Frank Herbert just among soft Sci-fi

I could go on but those are just the ones I thought of off the top of my head. I'd not be surprised if Neil Gaiman garnered more immediate name recognition.


This is only my opinion, but after about book 3 or 4, it descended into what was, for me, some pretty grim quality. Not Storm Constantine-level awfulness (thank God), but it's as though he forgot everything he knew about the craft of writing. If a scene does not advance the plot, provide some new insight into a character, set the mood, or at the very least interest the reader, it should be removed. By that standard, almost all of Winter's Heart could have been, and (imo) should have been, deleted.

Here's the thing. Since the first time I've heard this I re-read the books with this in mind. And concluded it to be well, essentially not true.
Just about every thing that happens in the books, has to happen. While one could change the writing style to cut length but not the course of events, but that's been there since the beginning.

Yes there's a certain slowing down in book six through ten, but this has its purpose. Because Randland doesn't just revolve around ta'veren and the purpose of the whole thing is deconstructing the idea of the promised hero. That people don't simply bow down to him or join up, and those that don't aren't necessarily evil either. That if your heroic forces take over a country they have to run that country afterward. That to save the world is actually a much bigger task then is generally presented, while the WoT set out to present saving the world... realistically.

Also are you sure you meant Winter's Heart? Most people would choose Crossroad of Twilight. The series does have its problems, particularly here. Here it tries something that doesn't work and could do with rearranging material from other books around it to give it meaningful resolutions. In general Faile and Perrin's arc hasn't paid off yet and seems the pattern has not yet shown why he needed to be delayed their so long. It may well not. But that's really my only big issue with the series.

Eakin
2011-11-07, 06:26 PM
Anything that lowers the barrier to entry for people to be creative gets a thumbs up from me.

Yes it's possible that some D-bag is slightly more insufferable at parties because he's "published" but so what? I don't shop for books by firing up a kindle and browsing their entire selection unfiltered. Yes there will be crap but there's plenty of that now. I would shop for self-published books the same way I look for regular-published ones; by relying on references from others and word of mouth.

Remember Sturgeon's Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon's_Law)

The_Snark
2011-11-07, 07:12 PM
This is only my opinion, but after about book 3 or 4, it descended into what was, for me, some pretty grim quality. Not Storm Constantine-level awfulness (thank God), but it's as though he forgot everything he knew about the craft of writing. If a scene does not advance the plot, provide some new insight into a character, set the mood, or at the very least interest the reader, it should be removed. By that standard, almost all of Winter's Heart could have been, and (imo) should have been, deleted.

This is as much a massive editing problem as it is a massive writing problem. But as his editor also happened to be his wife, I assign a lot more of the blame to him than I ordinarily would. The publisher, Tor, also bears a lot of the blame; they never cared enough about the quality to demand better as the series progressed. As long as everybody kept plunking down money for the next volume, they were fine with it. (Which is another reason I chose it as an example).

While Winter's Heart was the worst offender, I think the structure criticism applies to some degree to all of the books after around 3 or so. At some point, I really stopped caring what happened to the main characters, because nothing seemed to happen. This is not a function of me not liking dense works, or losing track of dozens of characters; my copies of the Silmarillion and Le Morte D'Arthur are almost falling apart from over-use. The difference was that those books engaged me throughout. There was always a reason for me to keep reading. But with some of the later books, I felt like I'd been cheated out of my $8.

Even some of the more popcorn-ish stuff like Thieves' World, or pick a Piers Anthony book, never left me that disappointed. Even Wraeth'thu (God help me) kept me reading, if only for the train-wreck appeal. Robert Jordan and Ayn Rand are the only authors who have ever seemed so pointless that I stopped reading the thing. (Rand has the distinction of being the only one to do so mid-book).

It is, as you say, a matter of taste. Book 4 is about the point where the series ceases to be an adventure story and moves into a slower-paced political story. It's no longer about a group of people traveling all over the world and saving it from evil; it's about that same group of people settling down and becoming movers and shakers in the world. They still save the world from evil, but they do it with armies and political maneuvering, rather than traveling through strange and unknown realms and arriving just in time to foil one of the Forsaken.

This is a definite shift in style, and I think it put a lot of his early fans off. It's not the only reason people dislike Jordan's work, but I see it cited a lot. I don't feel the same way, but then I had an unusual introduction to the series (started with book 6) and was never attached to the Tolkien-esque adventures.

There are definitely some pacing problems as you go on (books 8 and 10 spring to mind as the worst offenders), and I think the series would have been better off if books 7-10 had been condensed into three or maybe even two books. But I wouldn't want to go back to the style of the earlier books. I like the slow, meandering, complex plots. I like seeing things from the point of view of minor characters. I like that not everything in the world is immediately relevant to the plot or the main cast.

Now, you mention liking the Silmarillion and other dense, complicated stories, so it isn't just that you dislike the new style. But most of the stuff that apparently bored you succeeded in keeping me engaged. Sure, the books could be trimmed and made sleeker. But it wouldn't necessarily make them more entertaining for me, and in fact might make them less so.

No accounting for preference, I guess.
Anyway. Moving back to the thread's original topic...

Evrine touches on something that everybody else has so far overlooked: literary magazines. From what I understand, there was a whole subculture built up around science fiction magazines in earlier decades. As an aspiring author, you didn't start out by sending manuscripts to big-name publishers (well, you could, but you didn't expect it to work). You started by submitting short stories to magazines, who could accept it without having to worry about gambling tens of thousands of dollars on an unknown author. People in the industry—established authors, editors, and so on—read those magazines. If your story was good, you had a bit of an in; a publisher might be willing to take a chance on your novel because they liked your short stories, or an author might recommend you to his agent. It was a chance for up-and-coming authors to impress people before they were published.

This doesn't seem to be the case any more. How many of the aspiring authors in this thread have submitted stories to Asimov's or Fantasy & Science Fiction? (Those are the only two I can think of off the top of my head.) There aren't a lot of the old magazines around anymore, and most of the new ones are webzines. I don't know that the subculture has survived the transition.

This is not a bad thing, necessarily. Industries change, and it's pretty pointless to try and stop that. I'm interested to see how online publication will affect this one.

Also:
I would shop for self-published books the same way I look for regular-published ones; by relying on references from others and word of mouth.
This. Publishers are nice as a way to make sure the book you're holding has been edited and spell-checked, but they aren't actually quality control. Read excerpts, flip through the first few pages, look for reviews online; nobody buys books completely at random, whether they're shopping at a bookstore or on a Kindle.

JediSoth
2011-11-07, 09:06 PM
For what it's worth, I pledge that every book I publish through Kindle Direct Publishing (and Smashwords) will be proofread and edited by professionals.

If I'm going to do it myself, I'm going to do it right.