There is so much talk about self-published books in the writing-o-sphere.
But have you actually read one?
Poll below – please click through to the actual post if you’re reading in a feed reader or via e-mail.
UPDATE: poll is closed!
Also, your further thoughts requested in the comments section. Did you like the self-published book you read? Would you read another? Do you only read traditionally published books? Etc.
While I haven't read any self-published books, I do think the trend may be coming (if not already here). It will be interesting to see how the publishing world survives and evolves during this economy (like the rest of us). I'm glad I found your blog!
Kristine N says
The best self-published book I've ever read was later published by a big publishing house. I haven't been impressed by most of the ones I've picked up, though. Usually they're poorly written, or poorly plotted, or have characters I really don't care for, or all of the above and more.
I recently read two self-published non-fiction books about obscure Civil War topics. One was well-written, well-edited, and very well-researched. The other was badly written, barely covered the topic, and contained no information that I hadn't already read elsewhere.
I've never read a self-published novel all the way through, although I've tried a couple times.
Jaime L. Amsel says
I stumbled upon your blog looking for an non mysterious, un-thrilling and suspense-less answer to the difference between: thriller, suspense and mystery. Then began to jump around your blogs. They are great! helpful, specific, concise and well written. Thanks. Kudos!!
Leigh K Hunt says
I have read them, but I cant say I have really liked them. They lack a certain glam finesse that traditionally published books have.I must admit – they are getting better, but still.
I came across mistakes, grammatical issues, and all sorts of other things that grated on my nerves like over-describing.
I believe that if you are going to self publish, you make damn sure that the manuscript is polished within an inch of it's bloody life before you press print on it. And that includes having a team of beta's and critique partners in tow, as well as a proof reader. If you can put together a team like that – then you might actually have a chance at being successful.
I sample several self-published books every week. I discard most of them but if I like them enough to buy the whole book, I write a review. I get a lot of excitement from some of these books. I've found literary stories better than any I've seen in traditional literary outlets and I've found quirky stories I've enjoyed that I think traditional publishers would steer well clear of. I've found some novels I would recommend to others. The most exciting thing about these books is that the authors are unafraid to express their personalities. That is very unusual in old-style publishing where authors always seem to be trying to be someone else or to disappear completely, with the exception of those writing celebrity biographies, which publishers love and which I hate.
Roland D. Yeomans says
We all need someone to supervise our efforts. We all have blind spots. But I think some of the negative feedback that I've been reading has come from the fact that the reader knew upfront it was a self-published effort.
Give a self-published horror novel to someone saying, "Hey, check out the latest Stephen King!" And that someone might look at it through the filter of expectation of a great horror ride.
What did Churchill say? "Give a man a hammer and everything begins to look like a nail."
Nichole Giles says
I have read a few self published books. I prefer to not read more. Some have been well done, with only a few minor editing issues that could have used some help. Others…not so much.
Unfortunately, the poorly done ones have created a stigma for me. If I know a book is self published, I'm a lot less likely to actually purchase it.
If I continually hear good things about a self published book, I may then look at a sample and make a judgement call that way, but even still I'm very leery. I hope that stigma will change someday, but as self publishing is a growing trend, I'm not sure it will. Sadly.
H. Renee says
Self pub tends to be hit and miss, even with the descriptions authors can put in. Sometimes a bad description is a fantastic novel and vice versa.
I always, ALWAYS take the time to at least rate the book, and if it's good I leave a review. (If it isn't good, I leave a rating and delete the book.) The kindest thing a reader can do is review the book and spread the word!
The first SPB I read was a story about a girl’s battle with herself and her addiction to drugs and alcohol.
It was a heart wrenching read mostly because the writers’ truth, fears and courage dealing with her difficult life were not edited by an overzealous editor. The shocking and courageous struggle was raw and untouched with her voice booming through convincingly. Because of this the story was a powerful read.
The only thing that let the book down was the spelling, grammar and punctuation. If this book had been a polished piece of work it would have been extraordinary.
I’m happy I read it. For me it was an amazing read although as someone who enjoys editing I couldn’t help but edit as I read.
Even so, I could feel the strength and hope in this sad yet inspiring true story made so much the better because it was all true and written from the heart of a broken young girl.
I sent my self-published book to a contest, did not win. Read a couple of the other entries. I thought they were very good, that I had a tough competition. My book did not win. Other authors commented on the novels that had won first and second prize that they were not good at all. I agreed that, at least the other novels I had read, were a lot better.
Michele Shaw says
I eagerly read a few self-pubbed books as I was excited to see what they had to offer. Sadly, I've been rather disappointed in the quality of the writing. The editing has been horrible (or non-existent). I know there must be some excellent authors who have gone the self-pubbed route, but I'm still looking for them. I haven't given up yet, but I'm not as eager as I was at first, and I'm being much more selective. I have also encountered the same issues with a few books put out by smaller presses. I don't think anyone can call one way of doing things all good or all bad, but right now, traditionally pubbed are ahead as far as what I have personally read. I just want to read a good book. I don't care how it got out there.
Jenny Lundquist says
I haven't read a self-published book yet, but that's not because I wouldn't. The fact is, even with traditionally published books, I just don't have the time to wade through all the titles. I rely on book blogs to help me determine what to put on my TBR list. Once I find blogs I trust that provide a similar service for self-published titles, I'll gladly add them to my list.
Glenda Rogers says
I read most recently RED HOT PROPERTY BY DEVIN O'BRANAGHAN and thoroughly enjoyed it. She had been with a big publishing house but decided she didn't like all the politics and went the self-publishing route. She does have an agent and I would assume an editor because the writing was crisp, clean and without error. I think editing by an outsider is so crucial if you're going to self-publish.
I've read self-published e-books. One or two were entertaining, most of them were boring and poorly edited. Now I always read the free sample before buying. I was betrayed one too many times by the author's friends giving 5-star reviews to trust the ratings alone.
Violet and Ruby says
Good discussion! I'm going to be self-publishing with my bestie and former S&S editor. I'll still be writing my series for S&S, but want to try publishing e-books, too.
I've read many self published titles. Many have had challenges and need some work, but I have also read quite a few good ones. Those that were good, had professional editing and proofreading services done on them.
I create eBooks, so many of my clients are self pub authors, so I've seen a lot come across my screen. The key to anything you do yourself is still spend the money to get it right, otherwise, it's a waste of a lot of time and energy that readers will vent about later on.
Is it terribly judgmental of me to notice that the comments in this thread praising self-published books tend to be the more awkwardly-written ones?
I've got one of those MFA's, and long ago thought I was going to have a career. (Having a short story accepted once in a prestigious (now long defunct) literary mag probably helped propel my delusions). I likely would have kept my unpublished novel in a virtual closet had I not discovered a couple of outstanding self-published books. I've since read more. There is a lot of interesting stuff slipping through the cracks, but you do have to look for it and that can be tricky. When I see the more literary types who refuse to take the plunge, I wonder if they lack confidence in their own ability to tell dross from gold, and so prefer to depend on corporate gatekeepers to keep them from making fools of themselves.
I read e-pub and I plan to e-pub myself. But yes, I think more e-pub authors should take the time (and pay someone to do formatiing/covers) so not to give e-pub a bad name. As some are free, no one should really complain and yes, download an excerpt first. I'm sure e-pub is just going to go ahead into the future. Now we're in the pioneering stage.
Draven Ames says
I have had some great luck with self-published books. One author who comes to mind is Simon Wood. I liked the books of his that I have read.
jenny milchman says
I read self-published books, mainly by authors I know who ask me to. I read them if they have a print version, as I don't like to read digitally. I've come across some gems, a couple of excellent ones, especially by traditionally published authors who left their publishers behind, and many that…aren't excellent. There are poor traditionally published books, too, of course, but crudely speaking, the balance I've found still seems to be that more self-published books suffer from craft mistakes and not being "ready" than published ones.
The Paradise Series says
Walking on the moon was only fantasy many years ago and then when it was done, we moved on.
Self publishing is in the beginning stages generally, but not so in reality, many great authors for the past one hundred years or more started by self publishing. However, the massive, recent growth attests to the power of the first step.
Dr Robert E McGinnis self published author for forty years.
Amanda Stephan says
Yes, I've read self-pubbed books, and I will continue to do so. After *much* research and consideration.
I still enjoy and will continue to read traditionally published books. However, with that said, I recently picked up a huge, traditionally published author's book that I abhorred and threw away.
Are there issues with self-pub authors? Yes. I've noticed quite a few that should have hired a good editor as well as graphic designer. Even a few beta readers could have helped them immensely! They need to pay attention to these details.
Just my thoughts.
I read any kind of book that I find interesting based on the blurb and the first few pages. Have read several excellent and a few really dreadful self-published boooks.
I loved reading The Celestine Prophecy, was suprised to learn that it was self-published at first.
I've read both traditonally-published and self-published, and I find it to be a fairly mixed bag. Some of the self-published books are absolute rubbinsh — appeared to have been the author's first draft and certainly wasn't edited. Some was pretty good, but not great. Clean technically (clearly edited professionally), and without obvious typos and formatting errors, but still lacking that certain je ne sais quoi. Still others ahve been fantastically amazing. Some of the very best books I've read all year, such as Cynthia Justlin's HER OWN BEST ENEMY, Bev Pettersen's JOCKEYS AND JEWELS, and Theresa Ragan's ABDUCTED.
As for the tradtionally-published books, I find it to be less of a mixed bag. I still find some utter stinkers, and others that are good but sorely lacking in editing, but less so. But really, the very best book I've read this year wasn't a traditioonally-published book but rather an indie.
Kathleen Valentine says
Why, yes! I treasure my copy of "The Joy of Cooking", I had to read "Ulysses" in college and I'd be lost without my copy of "The Elements of Style".
I'm sure I've read others but I don't usually keep track of who publishes the books I read.
P. Helen says
I have and, sadly, the two I read were really, really, really bad! I'm sure there are wonderfully written books that are self-published. I just haven't read any.
I've read some pretty terrible traditionally published books, and some great self-published books. I think the self-pubs are way less likely to have been thoroughly and decently edited, which is a real shame. But I've seen enough awful books on the "other side" recently that I don't think there's much editing being done by anybody, except on the few that the publishing houses really, really want to sell. The rest of their authors are as much on their own as self-published ones.
Ann Elise says
I read a free self-published book. Never again. Nowadays I stick to either the classics, if I'm getting one for free, or pay for books. Although it sounds terrible, I've never read a self-published book I particularly liked. I've wanted to, sure, but when push comes to shove I'd take a traditionally published book any day. They're just more polished.
As I've contemplated self-publishing, I've definitely read a lot more self-published than I used to. I plowed through all of Amanda Hocking's books.
I read a book based on recommendation, and what sounds interesting…self published or not…doesn't matter if it's written well. I self-published my novel. I didn't want to wait a year or two to find an agent, then wait to see if a publisher would print it after that, and so on. Plus I wanted 100% rights to my story by the end. So, bam…I did it myself. I did purchase an editoral review, which was awesome, and formatting help. [nothing really comes for free] And while it's been a learning challenge, and patience is needed…I would do it again in a heartbeat! And will…
Elizabeth Tai says
I'm frankly having a ball discovering self-published books. Books with concepts and plots that publishers find too risky to market? I'm on it! I love finding a unique read.
Fortunately, the first one eBook I read, while not exactly stellar, was on par with its fellows that were traditionally published which I'd consider 'so-so'. I often look at blogs for recommendations, or watch out for eBooks that are on promo (sometimes free) to check out the author.
The 99c price makes it really attractive for me, so I don't mind making a 'sacrifice'. If the blurb/sypnopsis appeals to me, I'll buy it. (Sadly, I'm often atracted to the cover first – bad covers are a major turn off for me.)
I've read many BAD traditionally published books, so frankly to me it's not that great a difference!
For the person checking out low-priced ebooks from unknown authors check out Taste and See, edited my Lorilyn Roberts, on Amazon. It contains the first chapter of almost 60 books.Best of all it's free but not for much longer. so you can easily pick the authors you like. The link is https://www.amazon.com/Sampling-Chapters-Marketing-Network-ebook/dp/B006H9TJAA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327966027&sr=8-1
I have read 2 self-published books and what I can say is that they were quite good.
I was a book reviewer for a newspaper some years ago. Some people imagine that means we got to go book shopping on someone else’s dime, but no — we received just whatever books people/publishers sent in for free, and chose from those. Consequently, I have read some awful books that made it to print; and the worst of them had actual publishing houses behind them. Note that just because you found a publisher doesn’t mean they’ll give you quality cover art or copyediting!
Now, to be fair, I’ve SEEN some self published books that looked like they probably would be awful if I had chosen to read them, but which I did not read. Of the ones that got me to the point of reading, I can’t think of any that would make my “worst books ever” list. Probably the worst self-published book I came upon was a nonfiction book about African diaspora that just had crummy research and lackluster writing that was mostly just an excuse for the author to whine about modern racism; would have gotten a C if it had been turned in as a High School social studies project. That is still a step up from an absolutely godawful murder mystery novel that was put out by some university press (apparently the author was a teacher there) where every character was a lesbian except one character who was a heterosexual, misogynistic man. Want to guess who was the killer?