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Self Published Books

A place to debate issues or to rant about what's on your mind. In addition to discussions about historical fiction, books, the publishing industry, and history, discussions about current political, social, and religious issues and other topics are allowed, so those who are easily offended by certain topics may want to avoid such threads. Members are expected to keep the discussions friendly and polite and to avoid personal attacks on other members. The moderators reserve the right to shut down a thread without warning if they believe it necessary.
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cw gortner
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Post by cw gortner » Wed November 19th, 2008, 11:43 pm

[quote=""Amanda""]Gosh....The Traitor's Wife was originally an iUniverse, and I wouldn't not want to miss out on that! [/quote]

Exactly. My first book THE SECRET LION was, for all intensive purposes, self-published, so maybe that's why I tend to like the independent spirit that motivates these writers. My first publisher for SL did exist as a person but I later found out he had no staff, per se; he basically ran his operation out of his home and knew less about publishing than I did. His editing skills were nill, so I did hire my own editor, and I consulted very closely with the graphic artist he hired to create the cover, because no one had actually read the book except me! I didn't get an advance and I did put some of my own money toward marketing. My next book THE LAST QUEEN started out as a small press offering from Two Bridges Press - a company that was developed by two of my writer friends who were very disillusioned with NY - and it sold well enough that I got picked up by my current agent, who sold LQ and my next book on Catherine de Medici via auction to Ballantine Books. Without independent publishing, I might never have attracted a major publisher. I'd tried for 13 years before, to no avail!

Elle Newmark's BOOK OF UNHOLY MISCHEIF and Brunonia Barry's THE LACE READER were also self-published and later went on to be auctioned for high six or seven figure deals. It's happening more frequently now; writers with an established success or track record can be more appealing to increasingly gun-shy publishers.

Again, for me it's not the publishing mechanism but the content. If the book has been edited well, packaged well, and it delivers the experience, I could care less about how it was published.
Last edited by cw gortner on Wed November 19th, 2008, 11:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
THE QUEEN'S VOW available on June 12, 2012!
THE TUDOR SECRET, Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
THE LAST QUEEN


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annis
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Post by annis » Thu November 20th, 2008, 12:01 am

CW and Amanda have a point- just because a book is self-published doesn't automatically mean that it's a bad book, and in fact most of the ones I've read have been good stories. My main complaint lies in the fact that they are more likely to have those spelling and grammatical errors which bug me so much.

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Thu November 20th, 2008, 1:13 am

[quote=""Amanda""]Gosh....The Traitor's Wife was originally an iUniverse, and I wouldn't not want to miss out on that! So there is some great self published stuff out there. I know I have a couple of self published books on my TBR pile, and there are some that have been self published by the author establishing their own publishing name too.[/quote]

Now there's a good example. When I bought and read and very much enjoyed BB's book I had no idea it was self published. I would be very sorry to have missed that just because of the IUniverse "badge".

One thing I've learned from this latest fiasco is to take advantage of the look inside feature if available -- I did this afterward and I can promise you I would have thought twice.

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Thu November 20th, 2008, 1:19 am

[quote=""cw gortner""]IMHO, editing is 90% of whether a book is readable or not. A bad writer can be made better with good editing; a good writer can be tanked by bad or no editing.

I'm also curious now: Can you tell us the name of the book you bought?[/quote]


I agree, editing makes all the difference. Even in the workplace when someone thinks they've written the perfect letter (even me :o ) and then it gets passed around for another looksee or two and we always end up changing and or cutting out.

As to the book, I've posted a review here and on Amazon, where it's getting whacked quite well. Although I do have a negative voting bunny who sticks me quite well on my reviews - even after the supposed software improvements to track said voting patterns.

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Thu November 20th, 2008, 1:31 am

Of course, that opens you up to possible hostilities from the author and/or their fan base, if he or she is watching their amazon page like a hawk.
They just don't do themselves any favors. The latest comment watching game is for Tsar by Ted Bell. They offered the book to Amazon Vine and the author was not happy with all the reviews. I know of one reviewer upset enough with the comments to take his review down, but this author just can't quite help himself and he keeps stepping in and adding to it. On a one star of one of his older books he attacked a reviewer because the only other thing they'd reviewed were blankets. He got called out on the floor for it, apologized and then a week or so later he was back at it.

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Thu November 20th, 2008, 1:36 am

In addition to iUniverse, some of the main publishers that are essentially self-publishing outlets include PublishAmerica, AuthorHouse, Xlibris and Lulu. There are others, though, and particularly energetic self-publishers often set up their own "publishing house" just to publish their own work. If you have a good eye for graphics, you can often spot a self-published book from the cover graphics. While these are getting better, they still often look rather homemade. For example, they might consist of just a photograph with the title and author's name printed across it in a fairly basic typeface.

Every now and then, a gem does turn up in the self-published category, but in my experience they are few and far between. Since I set up HistoricalNovels.info, I've been getting quite a few self-published novels for review - most are clearly not ready for prime time. I've started putting a note on a listing if the novel is self-published, so it may be helpful to check my website, although not all self-published novels are marked as such yet.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Thu November 20th, 2008, 3:38 am

Riddle me this...

If a self published book is good. Why can't it make it at a publishing house?

Just curious.
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cw gortner
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Post by cw gortner » Thu November 20th, 2008, 4:06 am

[quote=""Divia""]Riddle me this...

If a self published book is good. Why can't it make it at a publishing house?

Just curious.[/quote]

Oh, there are so many reasons. I think the principal one - and please, no one take offense because I do not mean this derogatorily - quite a few self-published books are, as Margaret pointed out, not ready for prime time. With the advent of personal computers, many people think they can write a book; they have all the best of intentions but do not take the time to master the craft. Writing a book is by far the hardest endeavour I've ever undertaken; I write because I'm compelled to it, but I also love learning the craft itself and I know there's always things I can do better.

Not that I'm an ideal example; I'm just saying, writing is an art form and it requires extreme discipline. Now, with print-on-demand, a marvelous invention whose benefits far outweigh its drawbacks, getting work into print can be easy and relatively inexpensive. So many novice writers who shouldn't yet be publishing are in fact doing so, to the detriment of those who are ready but for some reason often beyond their control have had trouble securing an agent. It's well known that getting an agent can be as hard as getting a publisher; in my experience, the reverse was true for many years. I could get an agent; no publisher wanted to take the risk, however, for reasons as varied as, for example, I was unknown; who wanted to read about some obscure Spanish queen?; historical fiction was a dying genre, etc. You name it and at some point I heard it.

I've spoken to many self published writers since my books were sold into the mainstream. I get asked advice, even solicitations if my agent would look at them. I always come back with the same response: Make your manuscript the very best it can be. Get dozens of people to read it, especially people you barely know who'll do you the favor. Join a writing critique group, join three. Write, write and re-write. Revision is key. The first draft is just that: the first draft. Pop some champagne, get drunk, sober up, and then get ruthless with that red pen. Learn to differentiate between the writer ego and the cruel editorial eye. And if you can't, hire an editor.

What I often see in self published novels are first drafts. The story is often there, as is the talent; what it lacks is the refinement a strong editor brings to the table. It's not that a self published author can't do it; they're often working on a shoe-string budget and what goes is what costs the most: editorial work. They get too impatient and want to see their book in print; or some think they don't need editing - a stance that baffles me. Hell, I think I need editing even when the book is published. I always find stuff I wish I could change, which is why I never, ever, submit first drafts to my agent and never did it when I was querying agents. They can spot that the writing is good but if the polish is not there, a rejection is almost inevitable.

In all this, we must remember that self publishing has a long and stellar tradition for the most part, though it's often confused with the far shadier practice of vanity publishing. Vrginia Woolf self published, so did Walt Whitman and Jack London. Nowadays, finding a publisher is just as hard, if not harder, than it was in their time. However, self publishing is not an enterprise to enter into lightly. On the contrary, self published authors need to take that extra step because the very act of self publishing carries its own stigma. People will think: Oh, you just weren't good enough to get a publisher. The self published author has to prove, in fact, they are more than good enough but this is the route they've chosen for whatever reason.

I entered into independent publishing because I had no other options. I'd had four agents and been rejected - nicely, for the most part but rejected all the same - by most major publishing houses in the US and several in the UK. My gambit paid off - but I didn't do it to get NY's attention. On the contrary, I did it because I had rewritten my books to death and I was desolate at the thought that I'd worked so hard for so many years only to see my manuscripts languish on my harddrive. I never expected the sales or the critical reviews I got for THE SECRET LION. It just took off. But I'm a very rare case; most self published novels, for the reasons cited above, sell poorly.

In the end, it's a shame because there is so much undiscovered talent that could be brought to light if these writers took the time it requires to perfect their manuscripts and approach self publishing with the same care and dedication you'd approach any artistic expression.

Okay, off my soap box. Thank you for indulging me and feel free to tell me to shut up :)
Last edited by cw gortner on Thu November 20th, 2008, 4:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
THE QUEEN'S VOW available on June 12, 2012!
THE TUDOR SECRET, Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
THE LAST QUEEN


www.cwgortner.com

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cw gortner
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Post by cw gortner » Thu November 20th, 2008, 4:13 am

[QUOTE=Misfit;12663]They just don't do themselves any favors. The latest comment watching game is for Tsar by Ted Bell. QUOTE]

I watched this with all the stunned surprise of a train wreck. He's quite bold to have gone so far. The lesson I've learned: I post a review only when I have something positive to say, and I always check the author's page before I post or select an item for review from Vine. Any Bell-ish antics and I don't take the book. I've been slammed enough times to have learned some writers just can't take criticism well and there's no point in putting myself in that position. I approach reviewing as seriously as I do writing. If I didn't care, I wouldn't bother to even write a review.
THE QUEEN'S VOW available on June 12, 2012!
THE TUDOR SECRET, Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
THE LAST QUEEN


www.cwgortner.com

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Post by Volgadon » Thu November 20th, 2008, 5:39 am

[quote=""cw gortner""]Who are they?!! HF as a real memoir? You mean, for real, not imagined, like, for example, what I write, which is basically a researched but imagined first-person account of a historical person's life?[/quote]


A badly researched and badly written account of a fictional person's life, but claiming that said person was real and not in a Flashman sort of way. Said author has written not one but two of them. What makes it worse is that they are about the Holocaust, luckily nobody seems to have bought any copies.

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