Saturday, 20 October 2012

Blog hangover: an aftermath of yesterday's post

As expected, my posting an excerpt of my current WIP, which addresses self-published authors who just can't be bothered to respect the craft of writing or their readers, has sparked an interesting discussion. Once the book is finished and on the market, it will become apparent who I'm targeting and why. Just to be clear here: I celebrate self-publishing and the way it opens door for authors and readers alike. Years ago, I had a friend who wrote down her experiences with her abusive husband; she couldn't talk about it to anyone, particularly not him, so she wrote a book, getting it out of her system. She was still young and needed to do that to eventually communicate with her family and her ex-husband. I don't know if she's ever published the book, but I thought it was very brave of her. I don't think she ever intended to make a big deal out of it and seek representation. I don't address people like her with my book. Self-publishing has always been perfect for that. But normally, they would get a few copies printed and hand them out, not go and sell them to the public.

This has changed, though, and I'm addressing those who think they have it in them, who think they're the next Amanda Hocking or John Locke; those who think writing is really easy and they just hack the words into their laptop and then go and promote the hell out of the pile of shite they've produced. Well, why don't you just sample, you may ask. The sample function of a book may give you an indication of the writing/grasp of grammar, but it won't give you an indication of how well plotted the book may be. And I've seen great first three chapter and then: downhill. By then you've wasted hours, or in my case: days, weeks even.

As Derek yesterday suggested: go back to buying books of the big six! Yes, that's actually what I've decided. I've got about 50 odd self-published books on my Kindle and will give all of them a try, but I'm definitely not adding more for the time being. Though I have downloaded one more yesterday; co-incidentally, the one I was attracted to was free. People will say if it's free you have nothing to lose. I disagree. How about time? Time is the one thing I can't get back. Apart from turning back the clock, that is, but that's a different matter.

However, one point left a sour taste in my mouth:  A few new visitors, names I hadn't seen before popped up and 'defended' the indie scene by coming in bulk, recommending each others' works. Which was quite a shame to discover. It reeks of scratch my back and I scratch yours, or we're from the same website and therefore must recommend each other. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for supporting each other if you read and love the books, but why not being open about it by saying: We're a collective of indie authors and maybe you could give one of us a try (which I'm doing as said above), I guarantee the books are well edited. That would have come across as more honest than a group of people blowing each others' horns. I'm sure it was unintentional, but it reeked somewhat fishy to me.
In general, I don't care much about recommendations. Why? Because taste is something you can't discuss. What you might love, I might hate. For as long as I can remember, I've been someone who went into a library (as a kid) and a bookshop later on, preferring to browse. I could spend hours there, choosing the right read. I never asked the shop assistant for help, I let my gut feeling decide, and to 99% I ended up with a read I either loved or at least enjoyed immensely. There's only one person whose recommendations I follow and that's from my friend Piddi. Every books she's given me has been a winner, and that's the only person I will listen to blindly.
Anyway, I'm glad to have made the acquaintance of a bunch of indie authors who take their 'job' seriously, particularly David, who seems to have a wicked sense of humour. (Loved your teen-voice post. Hilarious.)


  1. It was an interesting debate last night Stella, which is always healthy. Even if we often agree to disagree. But it got me thinking about the point you were making and hopefully my post today will go some way to us knowing that we have at least some common ground.

    1. Hey, Derek.

      I know we have common ground and you know that I'm particularly harsh to stir things. I'm not doing that because I think I'm the world's best writer, or perfect, I'm doing this to get people thinking. :-)

      I'll pop over to your blog.

  2. Glad I could give you a smile, Stella.

    I can honestly say there was no conspiracy or you-scratch-my-back going on, though. Your post was referenced in a Facebook group in which many of those writers are members, some of whom are friends, most of whom just chat about writing in the same circles. That's it. It's how the internet works—sometimes, however powerful your olfactory senses, a fish is simply a fish. Many of the books cited by others in your comments section I would also recommend, and are worthy of anyone's time (not just my own, lol). I hesitate to do this as I know I'll leave someone out, but I particularly recommend Joe Café by Dan Mader, and Drawing Breath by Laurie Boris, both excellent yet very different novels.

    If an expansion of everyone's network is a result of this difference of opinions, that can only be a good thing.

    1. Hi, David

      It's Laurie's book I downloaded, and yes, I agree, an expanding network is wonderful. It was lovely to have new visitors, and I guarantee you that I don't mean any harm, I just like to ruffle some feathers sometimes. :-)

    2. No one ever died from a feather ruffling. ;)

      So, if you're interested, Stella, my book was just published. If you read it, I'd love your take on it. It covers many of the things we've been discussing, plus other aspects of the epublishing revolution. Let me know.

    3. It sounds a lot like my upcoming rant. If you don't mind, I'd like to wait until mine's finished? I never read the same 'genre' when I'm writing a book. The reason being is that I don't want to be influenced (it often happens subconsciously), and rather listen to my gut feeling. I expect to publish the book end of November. I'll then give you feedback, and that's a promise. :-)

    4. Oops, just saw this. Disregard (or put on the backburner) my previous post!

      Sounds good, Stella. ;)

  3. If you assume that I recommended the book Joe Cafe because I am plugging a member of a group I belong to you are badly mistaken. You wanted a name of a self-published book that I considered a cut above. That is what I gave you - in this case several cuts above. I recommended it because it is one of the finest books I have read in a very long time. I won't go into detail here, but if you read my review of it on amazon you will see what I thought of it. It is an honest review, unsolicited. Nor has he read my books and reviewed them. I do not expect him to as he does not enjoy my genre.

    Frankly, although a lot of mutual back scratching does occur in both the Indie and Traditional areas, I do not participate in it and find the assumption that I do insulting.

    1. Hi, Yvonne

      Firstly, I'm sorry that you feel insulted. It wasn't my intention. I think there we a few factors that played into this: I didn't ask anyone to suggest a good read. That blog post is an excerpt of my book. It's what happens on the forum, those who participate and constantly claim there are those great raw voices and that I'm doing harm to the self-publishing industry. I asked them, repeatedly, to name one book they've read that they find outstanding. And I've never got an answer.

      Okay, now to my thoughts on back scratching. I agree that it was my way of badly wording it. You were the first to comment and recommend me Joe Cafe. I thought you're a reader who wanted me to show that there are great books (which I never doubted, by the way).

      Then came David, rightly teasing me about my proofreading. And then Caroly, who recommended authors David and Yvonne. That's when I paused for a moment.

      Next I go to check the links David left and find that all the names that were recommended are participating on that particular site ...

      I said I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but if you put yourself into my shoes I'm sure you understand my initial reaction to this. I'm not saying that you're doing, but that it could easily misunderstood, which I did.

      So now I have to see what all the fuss about Joe cafe is about. :-)

  4. Perhaps a number of Indies Unlimited people showed up here because we are so active in the writing community. Another thread, which some of us follow, had your link and directed us here.

    Yes, we support each other, but we are dedicated to doing it in an ethical way and offer much more to the writing community at large.As a result we have been recommended by "Predators and Editors".

    And, I was, indeed, "a reader who wanted to show you there are great books" published by Indies. Nothing more. My membership in a group had no bearing on my being here.

    1. And it's a good thing, I think. Being active and support each other.
      Wow, didn't know you were recommended, that's brilliant. P&E is one of my first stops when dealing with agent, publisher, services, and the like.

      I know I stumbled over Indies Unlimited before, but didn't stay for long, probably bookmarked it to visit later, but never got around it. I see that Big Al is part of it, which is great. I think he's doing a smashing job with his reviews and gained a lot of respect in Indie circles.

      So keep up the good work. We need more of that. And again: it honestly wasn't an attack from my side.

    2. The constellation of writers revolving around Indies Unlimited have pretty much had it stamped in their DNA (ooh, nice mixed metaphor) to be supportive of each other. Many of them met even further back, in a LinkedIn group. So although it may seem like a conscious attempt to manipulate, and I can see that from your perspective, these are a bunch of very ethical and enthusiastic and talented writers who are primed to support each other, something they wouldn't do if any of them lacked talent.

      Yeah, Big Al is scary. Or so I thought until he gave my first book 5 Stars! ;)

    3. No problem. I'm glad we got all that straight. A little controversy can be a good thing. Visit us some more. :-)

    4. Big Al scary? I think he's a big softie. He and his reviewers are honest, that's not scary, but eye opening for many. I was mortified when I found out that my book had plenty of errors (typos, extra words, etc.) when I sent it to him. All fixed up before the review came in, but still, I couldn't believe it happened.

      Re Indies Unlimited. I think it's just really unusual that a group of people love each others' books. But there's probably a case of my misunderstanding it. I imagine there are authors who read some of the other authors' books, but not all; and a few may just read one or all. Depending on their preference. I know I only downloaded the one book which is the kind of theme I would like to read. So if I were a member, I could only support that one author because I don't know if the others 'deserve' that support. I hope you know what I mean? But then you all wrote more than one book, and I may have read another one. So, let's say, David would support Lorie, Yvonne supports Joe Cafe (forgot the author's name), and Carolyn, a fantasy reader knows Yvonne's books inside out.
      Sorry for the complicated post. I'm trying to explain my way of thinking.

      Yvonne, ran out of letters? :-) I'll certainly pop by. I've always been a little controversial. *sigh* why make it easy if I can have complicated?

    5. Yeah, I meant more his reputation for not suffering fools gladly. And of course he's not *actually* scary!

      And if I can indulge in a little promo, my 9/11 book might not be to your taste, but given the subject matter on your blog, you really should check out my new one. Now on both Amazon and Smashwords (and coming to a theatre near you, lol).

      I think you surmise right, Stella. I certainly haven't read every book by ever writer involved with the Indies Unlimited collective. Personal tastes and time prevent it. Good people over there, though.

    6. I think I'm way scarier than Big Al. Hahaha.

    7. Don't tell 'im.

      Actually, I'm quite nice and if someone has a problem with a section or plot, I'm the last to turn him or her down. I received a lot of help on the grammar/proofing front and it's my way to give back.