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Author Topic: Getting a sale
Grumpy old guy
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Some random thoughts that may prove useful to someone.

Here at Hatrack, we submit the first 13 lines of our (insert type here) story hoping we get positive feedback and the grudging acknowledgement the reader would want keep reading on and turn the page. Apart from conforming to some submission guidelines, what’s this got to do with selling your book if you self-publish? Nothing--well, almost nothing.

Before you get a prospective reader to read your opening sentences, you’ve got to get them to first, pick up your book, and then, to open the cover. Or, on the Internet, click on the “Read more…” icon. How do you achieve this?

1. Title:

On a shelf in a bookstore, all a reader will see is the spine of your book and what’s written there. You have to intrigue them; and you’ve got a very limited space in which to do it. What you want them to do is reach out and pull the book from the shelf; and all you’ve got available is the title--make it work hard for its place. The title for one of my books that I keep mentioning on here is Daisyworld. If you’re perusing the Sci-Fi section of the bookstore and you see such a title, aren’t you going to wonder what that’s all about? If you’re a bit of a geek, you’ll know what it means, and may just wonder what I’ve done with the concept. If you’re selling on the Internet, it is the combination of title and cover-art that will get the reader to take the next step. Which brings me to my second point.

2. Cover art:

Remember this: a picture tells a thousand words. The artwork/picture on the cover of your book is the second string to your bow--use it! Seriously, I have seen the worst examples of contradictory dichotomy on the covers of books. An exaggerated example would be a book with a title, The Plains of Ithaca, and the cover has a picture of a mountain or of woodland. Stupidity! Again, inveigle the reader in and tempt them to open the book with cover art that suggests something about the story and the characters. For my book Daisyworld, I will have a picture of my main character (which in itself will be intriguing as she’s almost naked, armed with a bow and knife, and her skin is dyed in what is referred to as ‘Ambush Scheme’ camouflage pattern) standing in a field of black and white daisies while holding the hands of two small, non-human, children. This actually encapsulates all the book’s story arc, premise, and themes. It is also a literary cheat: when I describe her getting her skin dyed, readers will know exactly what I mean with regard to its final effect.

Yes, I get a say on my cover-art, I’ve done graphic design, but most writers don’t unless they’re self-publishing.

3. Back-jacket blurb:

This is a teaser, so tease. Some people think that this blurb should be a short synopsis of your story. Wrong! This is the time to introduce your main character and their problem, hoping both are enough to entice the reader to open the book. For Daisyworld, its back-cover blurb will probably start with:

Kara Wilkins is young, successful, and afraid she’s going mad. She has just started hearing a voice inside her head and dreaming of forests--dying forests. Forests that haven’t been seen on Earth for two hundred years . . ..

This isn’t exactly how the story starts, but it covers what happens in the first few chapters--sort of, as well as later parts of the story too. It also tells the reader the story is about a future milieu on Earth. Which means I don’t have to set that up in the first page or two of the story, and the reader starts the first sentence of the story with their head already in the future and a hint about what’s troubling Kara as she stands looking out a window.

The point of the back-jacket blurb is to entice the reader in and then leave them hanging.

4. Dedications and Literary quotes:

Dedications can be a way of saying thankyou to someone who has helped you. Even two or three people who have helped, but keep it short. The longest dedication I’ve personally seen is twenty-four people! That’s an awful lot of help: did the author actually do any of the work?

Literary quotes, whether real or otherwise, can be seen as an affectation and an attempt to add veritas to a story that needs it. Personally, I view them as pointless and misleading. I could put this at the start of Daisyworld:

They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.

What the heck does that mean? Yes, it does have relevance to the story: but what is it? I know, but you don’t, and probably won’t, even by the end of the story.

5. The first thirteen:

We all take this to mean the first thirteen lines. It isn’t, it’s the first thirteen letters--your first words, your first sentence. That’s all you’ve got. You loose the reader here and they’ll put the book down. Grab them, and they’ll forgive you a few minor stumbles, so long as they’re minor and you’ve already gotten their attention.

6. An Editor:

Get one!

Phil.

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extrinsic
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The above checklist is one which every self-publishing how-to includes, and as well emphasis on product marketing. Each self-, or otherwise, publication plan or item expresses a mechanistic and matter-of-fact process that, on its face, is superficial and standard regardless. None touches in any way on the vital essential of content packaging -- appeal, expression, craft, except to say, without any direction, compose a fresh, vivid, and lively narrative or so forth.

The emphases, marketing-wise, are advertising, promotion, and publicity, which flood the market with mediocrity. Packaging, again, emphasis focuses on physical package considerations: cover art, blurb, back cover, jacket content and interior content and format, generally, and, again, mechanical considerations overall.

The shortfall of each and all, and the narratives for which the direction intends, lays in the aesthetics.

I sampled the 2015 Hugo nominee finalists. Yawn. Opening lines cast in static voice. Paragraphs and paragraphs and pages of static, a few static to the end. Yet these narratives are the selections of avid science fiction readers, I guess, the best (most appealing) of a mediocre selection. Some are patently a result of self-promotion campaigns directed toward WorldCon membership, the eligible electorate. This is word-of-mouth buzz generation, though, again, mechanical.

Aesthetics are the harder of composition's considerations in terms of appeal and a product of expression's manifold possibilities, and craft's more limited potentials, and grammar and style and rhetoric's strictured though, likewise, exponentially expansive potential and promise. Yet aesthetics genuinely generates sincere word-of-mouth buzz. Every once in a leap year blue moon a composition comes along that jumps the worn and rickety track and flies to an ascendant height. The rest are vapor trails . . . enjoy a brief fifteen nano-moments of fame.

I've suggested numerous approaches from many posts who, when, where, what, why, and how to develop aesthetics, albeit subjectively, yeah, personal opinion, though objectively in that aesthetics appeals are based upon reader topical (mechanical) and emotional identification and association with congruent-to-them life struggles, finding common cause and seeking personal meaning from life struggles, especially moral crises (aesthetics), and not too coincidentally as well circumstances which are beyond readers' personal experiences though human nonetheless and curiosity arousing.

This is how to: specific and strong and clear, vivid and lively inevitable surprise, emotional expression and subjective experience and reaction that is universal to the human condition. The Hugo finalists, ho-hum, scratch at edges of those ideas. Aesthetics, objectively, is emotional expression and appeal.

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Grumpy old guy
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Agreed. But, if you can't get a reader to look inside the cover it is irrelevant how artful, engaging, or well written it is.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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Personally, a cover to me is meaningless until I've read the contents, and other wrappings. I believe emphasis on wrapper is a piece of dubious gossip at best, myth-like though mundane, perhaps sacred to designers, in that marketers expect external appeals, superficial appearances, attract readers. Word of mouth attracts the most readers; that's it.

Yet wrappers are anymore based upon the same attention-grabbing conventions across the board. If every cover uses identical, and mediocre, design conventions, can any one stand out from the fray? The conventions are predicated upon standing out, though don't from a field of boasting standouts.

I have the one marketing goal in mind: appeal to a niche who brags about a product's entertainment merits. Period. And, yes, I am an able graphic, cover, and wrapper designer.

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Denevius
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What was the last self-published book you bought and why?

Self-published titles that people on this site enjoyed seem to rarely come up, but analyzing what prompted you to buy your last self-published title might give hints on what, specifically, is more effective in getting a sale for your own self-published novel.

I have never bought a self-published novel, so I have no details on what works, only what didn't work for me in the instances that I looked them up.

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extrinsic
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The first, last, and only self-published novel I've bought is Piers Anthony's Under a Velvet Cloak, 2007. I bought it because I couldn't find an ample sample elsewhere and because I'd read the prior seven Incarnations of Immortality installments to progressively declining satisfaction. I was most interested in a careful analysis of how the decline in quality of a writer's expression unfolds. For that reason alone, the purchase and effort was more than worth the candle.

I should have and did to a degree anticipate I'd be disappointed beforehand. The cover art and wrapper are of significantly reduced production values compared to prior installments. I was, though, curious regardless, and allowed perhaps Anthony's writing might be comparatively as deft as before, because publisher screening and editorial throughput no longer directed his expression.

Nope, self-derviative and formulaic, passionless, empty action. He substitutes motifs from prior installments in identical contexts and no new, fresh, or lively uses, expressions, reinventions, or textures. In other composition circles, this is called self-plagiarism, retreaded compositions substantively no different than a first publication. He'd jumped the shark in the late 1980s or early '90s.

Worth note, Anthony had a parting of company with publishers, agents, publicists, etc., from his early and successful career over creative differences and suspicions of fraudulent royalty payments. He was blackballed for it. He had no option but to turn to self-publication through a self-organized imprint. I expect part of his dissatisfaction with conventional publishing arose from the elusive promises self-publication success rumors spread.

[ April 05, 2015, 12:31 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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Actually, there is one self-published book I've been eyeing. It's from an author who added me randomly on twitter because she's familiar with the Tokyo Yakuza brand. And the only reason I've been thinking about buying one of her novels is that she posts really intriguing modern gothic artworks from her novels on twitter.

Of course, here comes the second problem with the venue. She has *so* many books, and if there is good writing in any one of them, it's going to be only one. But which one?

I actually think self-published authors shoot themselves in the foot a little. They tend to be prolific, with many titles, and everything they write, they throw up for sale. And as someone who has no idea about your writing, and who hasn't heard any word of mouth, I'm left thinking I'd be better buying a book through a traditional publisher than taking the risk on something that's really not ready for publication.

quote:
He had no option but to turn to self-publication through a self-organized imprint
Yes, but if you're a professional writer, you can hire a good editor or two to work with you in giving your novel a professional sheen. There are cover artists and book producers whose services he could have used. It would have cost him, of course, but this goes back again to why you're publishing and how much sacrifice you're willing to sink into your title.

People start small businesses all the time, and there are consultants to help you along the way. It's the ease of self-publication, especially today, that have so many people producing subpar material with the hope that if it's out there, maybe it'll go viral.

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extrinsic
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Anthony's post-success hubris precluded him from accepting intensive editing services. Maybe a stray comma or a misspelled word of two here or there, missing period, he allowed correction, not the "hard yards" of aesthetics development considerations.

I usually sample a few self-publishers' works, look for -- well, appeal improvement. Later narratives ought to, by default, show some sign of advancing skills. More often than not, they don't. When grazing library bookshelves, I do the same and usually start by borrowing an earliest narrative available or short story collection including earliest works. I might then sample a later or the latest work. Few writers exhibit transformation or growth over a career. The few that do, I lay hands on every narrative I can.

Anyway, for me, by default, any one I first lay hands on I'll give a chance and read through. Though not self-published works, I'm usually done in ten words or less, and will give one a few hundred words or, occasionally, a thousand or so, chance anyway. Except for overly static voice and action. I'm often done then in five words or less. I will struggle to read a self- or vanity-published work if it generates above the average astroturf buzz. Just to see for myself what all the hoopla is about and to determine what the germs of appeal are behind otherwise artlessly expressed and packaged content.

[ April 05, 2015, 01:50 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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Perhaps I should have titled this post: "Getting them to open the cover."

On a Pale Horse got me to read all the others. They were all derivative, except For Love of Evil, which I found interesting in a philosophical sense.

I decide on a story usually in the first sentence. Voice and tone, not necessarily content, keep me reading. Until, of course, they drop the ball.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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Or getting "them" to talk buzz about a story?

I'm not a buzz generator, yet, too much horizon-expanding sludge between my ears for now. Cool scouts, though, are buzz generators: like, in this novel, wow, hey, Benataur the karate-kapow sparrow hawk kicks Henny Penny polyandra and Chicken Little cassandra's sass-holes.

Define your audience and your narratives to appeal to an audience of one enthusiastic reader and buzz generator who wants to be told a vivid and lively story.

We are acculturated, socially adjusted to be courteous, considerate, and responsibly socially cooperative. The opposite of dynamic prose, where we may best vent, rant, rage, make a scene, misbehave, control, correct, castigate, punish, selfishly obliterate unbearable sass-holes and self-gratify wicked desires. Unleash fury on the page, where it is safe, cathartic, mindful of redeeming social responsibility, that no good deed goes unpunished and only half of misdeeds go unrewarded, as nobleness is rewarded and ignobleness punished. That will start buzz.

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Denevius
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quote:
Perhaps I should have titled this post: "Getting them to open the cover."
I've repeated this several times, but ah well. I think for many people who write, it's not easy, but there it is.

Talk about yourself as a writer in *real* life.

I introduce myself as a writer now. And if my novel ultimately sells, I'm going to introduce myself as an author for at least the near future. Not as an English teacher, but as an author.

I had a couple of hundred business cards printed out when I went home in December, and I've been handing them out left and right. And people *have* gotten in contact with me. If you want people to take a chance on your writing, let them know your writing exists when you meet them.

You are not Orson Scott Card. You are not J.K. Rowling. The odds of anyone buying your book because they saw it, amidst all of the other content they run into each day, is slim going on zero. Cover, title, first sentence, first 13. Most readers are not going to take a chance on a self-published novel.

Attend lectures. Introduce yourself to writers already established in the community. Make yourself available. Get to know your local community. Ask to have your book set up for display. Always be selling. Not just online, where it's easy, but in person through handshakes and conversation.

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Robert Nowall
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You left out "word of mouth." I've picked up books that have been talked up here, sometimes by the writers themselves...mostly I'm not disappointed by them.

I've never thought the First Thirteen were that important to the ultimate reader---maybe you can grab an editor with them, but to the guy in the bookstore it's not gonna catch his eye. As for the guy who bought the magazine, well, he bought it all, bad First Thirteen or good First Thirteen.

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JSchuler
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quote:
5. The first thirteen:

We all take this to mean the first thirteen lines. It isn’t, it’s the first thirteen letters--your first words, your first sentence. That’s all you’ve got. You loose the reader here and they’ll put the book down. Grab them, and they’ll forgive you a few minor stumbles, so long as they’re minor and you’ve already gotten their attention.

Somewhat disagree here. Yes, if you lose the reader in the first thirteen words, then you're looking at this becoming a tautological statement. That does not mean that you need to grab them in the first thirteen words or even the first thirteen lines. You just need solid writing that isn't a slog to read and a hook by the end of chapter one.

Regarding Cover Art: When I'm scanning through books, this along with title tells me what I'm going to pick up and look at. Shallow? I don't know: I have tens of thousands of books to choose from; am I going to spend my limited time looking at the one who thought barely enough to slap some obvious clipart on the cover, or am I going to go with the one that spent some money to hire a professional artist? Which one has been edited? Which one is more likely to have faith in his product, and which one is more than likely throwing it out there just because he can?

Doesn't mean I'm going to buy it or if I've heard good things about the clipart book that I will just dismiss it. (Apparently I have to say this because some people get weird and have negative physical reactions to the concept that covers affect sales)

I then look at the back cover/summary before deciding to start reading the first few pages. If I find the premise entertaining and the writing is good, you've now got a sale.

Dedications/Quotes? You're (un)lucky if I don't flip passed them.


Just a couple recent self-published titles I've read and found worth the time: Omega Force by Joshua Dalzelle and Unicorn Western by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt.

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Denevius
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Well, OMEGA FORCE was 2.99, and UNICORN WESTERN was free, so why not, took a chance on both of them. I have my doubts, but three dollars is three dollars.

So I guess I can't say I haven't bought any self-pubs anymore. Though it definitely helps that the books have hundreds of reviews between them. *More* so than the title or cover.

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extrinsic
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If my analysis is consistent, we have a potential consumer notified of a product's availability; an acquisition decision based on sampling wrapper and content; a consumption decision: reading; and a consumer response-decision to the product that, in turn, enthusiastically generates, or not, further product notification and consumption.

Is this not a bootstrapping effect? A bootstrap effect, the verb to bootstrap, is to develop and promote by initiative and internally-reliant effort with little to no external assistance. Product availability notification generates enhanced product availability notification. Of course, buzz talk is external initiative, though the product's external bootstrapping is itself reliant upon internal initiative-effort appeals.

Because product availability notification is external to a product itself; some internal initiative in the form of mechanistic marketing's physical packaging, advertising, promotion, and publicity; mostly external initiative, aesthetic and subjective, in the form of consumer enthusiasm, or not; the bootstrap effect largely lays in consumer hands. Therein resides the gross and net underlaying bootstrap community: the consumer community's prestige and self-involved satisfactions, which, for example, is individual status promotion or demotion predicated upon consumption satisfaction.

For me, if a product recommendation fails to fulfill its promise, I'm unlikely to positively share the product's availability notification. Furthermore, the recommender loses status standing in my hierarchy of trust, as does the product producer. Unfulfilling experiences are negative reinforcements. Notwithstanding, negative reviews by critics, whose judgments I distrust, are favorable reinforcements.

Also, a business proverb claims, one unfavorable consumption experience generates one hundred lost potential consumers; one favorable consumption experience generates ten new consumers. Bootstrapping, therefore, requires greater efforts to please than displease consumers. One or two or three dissatisfaction "groans," and a product has spoiled its bootstraps and probably those of the producer.

Therefore, one necessity is a narrative product at least fluently and lively flow such that no consumer groans arise.

[ April 05, 2015, 09:37 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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Which is the reason for item number 6. A writer who edits their own work has a @#&*%$ for a client.

It's a sad fact: I can edit other people's work quite successfully, just not my own.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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At present, I'm more able to edit my work than anyone else, yet an editor with comparable grammar skills I still need to proofread. Otherwise, focus group testing is in any case crucial before debut.

This is not hubris. I'm in a process of developing methods rarely seen and only haphazardly or intuitively used before. Not experimental in the usual manner of that description, a meld of a greater portion of uncommon methods and common-as-dirt methods. A few of these methods focus-group tested showed promising results. A focus group's aptitude is a best practice fit, yet resistance arises from not suiting conventional expectations.

No editor I know of or conventional editing practice encompasses the methods. The focus group that best practice fits my needs is writing program professors and avid and close, active readers who are widely read in unconventional narratives and voices.

Not to say I intend unconventional narrative methods and expression, just not rigid conformance to the formal expectations of Standard Written English and formats. More of idiomatic and idiosyncratic expression, and formatting conventions used unconventionally though accessibly such that, instead of groans, surprises delight.

This is a fine line to toe between suiting conventional expectations and lively expression. I recently made a leap ahead in locating parameters for bracketing individual-to-given narrative targets, bull's-eyes on the horizon.

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Captain of my Sheep
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quote:
Regarding Cover Art: When I'm scanning through books, this along with title tells me what I'm going to pick up and look at. Shallow? I don't know:
I don't think it's shallow. I will not read a book with a cover that works well as a visual list of 10 Things You Should Never Do with Photoshop. If the cover is like that, the writing won't be much better.

I pick my books mostly on word of mouth, like Robert Nowall pointed out.

I read the blurb. I look at the cover. I download a sample. You get one page to hook me and that's it.

Unless you're an author that's been praised up and down, then, and only then, will I slog through a nasty prologue to see if I can get hooked on the story.

(Though it feels like I'm willfully impaling myself on a longsword when I could be doing other much interesting activities.)

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dkr
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I understand and agree with direction and content of this conversation. A couple of things come to mind.
First - The thoughts and methods described above seem to be of a much higher form of thought processing than the typical book buyer. I would not expect you folks to rate my book very high on a scale. You/we look so deep and with a lot of knowledge coming to bear on all the micro details. I'm not so sure the typical public does this. At least not intentionally.
Second - My path to self-publishing was based upon an unwillingness to belly up to the beast know as traditional publishing. I do not trust the machine to be anything but what it has been for decades. Sure the mega-corp marketing team is waiting to send you into the world, but the 'off-with-his-head' squad is lurking in the back seat. Some of the worst drivel ever written has been produced by traditional publishing so the comparison with self-pub needs to be realistic in that regard. Some self-pubs are doing everything in their/our power to adhere to the highest standard of quality and content. I personally feel like a drop of water in that ocean because so many writers are guilty of throwing anything and everything out there.
Having said all that, I think you are correct in the above assessment. And though I am still in a bit of a quandary over this, I have determined to get the ball rolling with self-pub. For better or worse.

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Denevius
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quote:
I do not trust the machine to be anything but what it has been for decades.
I know others who have expressed a similar sentiment about traditional publishing. But my question remains, with a caveat: how many self-published books have you bought in the last twelve months, *and* how many traditional published books have you bought in the last twelve months?

My observation is that people who are trying to publish may have deep skepticism of traditional publishing, but most of the time, the book they're going to spend money on comes from the same beast they degenerate.

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extrinsic
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I guess the subjective question is which is your personal mountain to summit? The recent-in-time traditional peak? The new-fangled old peak? Frankly, the peak of personal Himalaya is my demon: writing that appeals regardless of route to the summit. Each is its own journey to conquer the one subjective summit.

[ April 07, 2015, 01:16 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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dkr
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In the past 2 years roughly 15 self-pub books. And honestly, I have not seen the huge plunge in the quality of writing or presentation. Granted, I did not pick the stories randomly or based upon a clever cover or story blurb. I have recently started reading my 4th WotF book, this one published in '85. I would say that out of all those stories I 'liked' no more than 10%. And only 3 or 4 really spoke to me. I have enjoyed the work you folks are doing here a lot more and am surprised that more of you have not made the WotF cut.

My current reading list has gone the other direction, into the past. I am working through the entire collection of A. Dumas books from Three Musketeers to Man in the Iron Mask. Haven't seen much in the current modern world that I care to read.

extrinsic - I find it interesting that MANY of the world's explorers made their discoveries when they were totally lost. Had they stayed on the foot-path like everyone else...

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Denevius
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quote:
In the past 2 years roughly 15 self-pub books.
Who do you recommend?
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JSchuler
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The new books I buy tend to be self-published. I'd wager about 75% of them. When I buy something traditionally published, it's generally a classic. This pattern is more motivated by pricing than anything else, as recent traditionally published works are often two or three times the price of self-published and classic fiction in e-book formats. Since time has done nothing to erode the quality of the later, new traditionally published works often can't compete on the dollar value.
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dkr
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Denevius - check these out;


http://www.hughhowey.com/kdp-is-for-chumps/#more-33416
http://www.jfpenn.com/
http://www.hughhowey.com/
Aaron Patterson - http://stonehouseink.net/authors/

Definitely check out the first link listed for a great article on self-pub folks.

added; http://thetwelvexii.com/deadlydozen/
I got this set during a .99 cent sale. Over half were very good, the others were not bad. Good set of self-pubs cats!

[ April 14, 2015, 11:11 AM: Message edited by: dkr ]

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Denevius
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I only skimmed the first link by Hugh Howey because I know the tone of slick when I hear it.

I think as artists in general, and writers specifically (since that's what we are), it would be better to have as your Patron Saint authors who toiled in obscurity never getting a very large audience but keeping at it until they met the common denominator.

But if Hugh Howey words are a comfort, or inspiration, to anyone, groovy.

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LDWriter2
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This subject interests me for a couple of reason--one being that I seem to be failing at it.

But I haven't been on for a while, one of the reasons being, ironically enough, I am getting close to E-publishing my second Indie novel. Right now I am waiting for the cover because the person doing it seems to be taking their time --or is very busy at the moment. But I was thinking of the cover when I decided on the basis design, I took the idea from a few books in the same genre that have been published--both Indie and traditionally.

I am also going to be thinking of the blurb in the same way. And the title too for that matter.

Oh, with this one I hope to have a short comment by a published writer on the cover as an added draw.


As to the last self-published book I have bought. Hmm, actually now I'm not sure. I thought one was self-published but now I'm not sure. I have a list of three or so self-published or Indie books I want to get but I seem to be taking my time ordering them while online. (Rolls eyes heavenward)

The last one I know for sure was Indie published was "Discovering Aberration" by S.C. Barrus. A different steampunk tale.

Oh, what catches my attention is the cover, the title and the blurb and if they still have a scene on the first page of the book--in that order. Well, sometimes I see the title first, but then the cover and blurb and inside scene. Many times the writer too if I know the person's work.

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Denevius
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Well, finished "Unicorn Western". It wasn't bad, though there were several typos starting halfway through the book and on. If I gave an honest analysis of it, I'd give it three stars. I thought there were some interesting ideas, but there was way too much telling of said ideas. And the narrative becomes annoyingly redundant towards the end, which made me think they were shooting for a certain word count.

But overall, not bad. A bit predictable, a bit not strong writing at places, but overall not bad. If you get it, though, realize that this is basically a fourth of a book. It basically just stops at what feels like 70 pages with no real resolution.

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Waurick
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My selection of books probably bears no semblance to how the masses choose. If you are thinking of marketability, I think the only thing worse than a mundane book cover or title is a stupid one. I began reading the Robert Jordan series and literally stopped because I was just too embarrassed to buy a book that looked so stupid.I often look at cover art. I also don't like to read the back cover because I like to be surprised by the story so it is a lose-lose situation for me sometimes! If I pick the book up, I will read a few pages. I don't think I have ever just read 13 lines and stopped.
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JSchuler
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Unicorn Western is actually a serial. So, you read the first of nine books. I think it's a mandatory thing that one of the books had to be the Seven Samurai, only with a jet-booted robot, a magic shotgun-wielding clown, and a kid that fell asleep to too many Bruce Lee movies among others. The writing quality is consistent throughout.

I will confirm that they are shooting for a word count. Listening to their podcasts that's part of how they plan their projects. They do make liberal use of turkey pie and apple brew (later chili) to reach that goal.

The whole thing is available in an omnibus edition for $10.

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Denevius
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quote:
I will confirm that they are shooting for a word count.
I suppose, in a perfect art world, narratives would be exactly the length they need to be. Not more or less.

I suppose I can't take a dig at the writers for putting a bit of fluff in their fiction, though for me it became quite noticeable and a bit of a distraction. I will say, though, that the fluff, coupled with the lax editing midway through, as well as the increased telling instead of showing around the same time the lax editing and fluff popped up, has me disinterested in reading another book in the serial.

And if, as you say, the writing is consistent to the serial I read the whole way through, I'm pretty sure I won't read any more of UNICORN WESTERN. This doesn't make it worse than traditionally published books, as plenty of series fall off dramatically in quality after the first title. And I'm pretty sure many popular authors are writing to fulfill a word count, whether or not the narrative needs to be that length or not.

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Sétanta
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I definitely have my biases: I have never bought a self-published book. I think that if enough people told me I would like it, I might - but I would never seek one out on my own. Without the dreaded gatekeeper to stop them, there is too wide a standard deviation in quality for my tastes.

Equally biased is my tendency to buy books completely based on their cover. I can tell you in all honesty that I read "Lord Foul's Bane" (Donaldson) as a teenager exclusively because the cover appealed to me, and then once I started reading and found it... difficult... I persisted probably out of cognitive dissonance. I ended up loving it, mind you, but it was all about the cover at first.

Piers Anthony is an interesting case study in how to be a production-line writer. His first novels (e.g., "On a Pale Horse," "Split Infinite," "A Spell for Chameleon") often contain interesting ideas and some decent writing, but it's all downhill from there. He's prolific and a proven finisher, but quantity over quality, for certain.

Phil, you started this post. I couldn't tell if you were saying that most people DO or DON'T get a say in the cover art that is chosen for their novel? Because as thrilled as I'd be to get my book published, I would seriously vomit if it got illustrated by a terribly hack.

Interesting discussion folks! Thanks.

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Robert Nowall
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Gotta say I've read some quirky and interesting self-published books---largely people who've hung around here, and largely 'cause I'm curious about what they've written after seeing them in action. (Largely but not exclusively---I also buy any number of self-published comics, things I follow online usually.) I can only say I've been disappointed a couple of times.
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Denevius
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I believe with most book contracts you *don't* get a say on the cover. I agree, it's something to worry about. Some covers are so kicka**, and some are so awful I wonder why they were green-lighted by the publisher.

Edited To Add: Oh, and of the two suggested titles from this thread that I bought, the one I paid for, OMEGA FORCE, was unreadable. I don't think I got past two pages. Really bad writing.

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Grumpy old guy
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Sétanta, if your work is published through the 'traditional' route you will have no say in pretty much anything. The exception is if you are a guaranteed Top 10 writer.

The original post was aimed at people who self-publish because most of them have no idea of how to market their work.

Phil.

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JSchuler
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Edited To Add: Oh, and of the two suggested titles from this thread that I bought, the one I paid for, OMEGA FORCE, was unreadable. I don't think I got past two pages. Really bad writing.

I always use the "Look Inside" feature first. The first 8(!) chapters of Omega Force were available for free.

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Denevius
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quote:
Sétanta, if your work is published through the 'traditional' route you will have no say in pretty much anything. The exception is if you are a guaranteed Top 10 writer.
This isn't true, Phil. And if in your experience it is, then I think it was a bad publisher/contract.

Like any other job, there's give and take, compromise, and collaboration. Bad jobs, like bad publications, are draconian. It's true that I've never published anything that let me have a say in the cover, and when content editing suggestions are made I almost always universally accept them because they seem like good ideas. But for my last short story, MOMENTUM, the editor suggested a change, I explained why I thought it wasn't the best idea, and he was like, "Okay, cool."

Ultimately, however, you are selling a certain level of rights to your work, which does take away some of your agency in the final product that will be released. But again, I've never worked any job that gave me free reign to do whatever I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. From minimum waged hourly employment to higher paying annual salary occupations.

quote:
I always use the "Look Inside" feature first. The first 8(!) chapters of Omega Force were available for free.
Ah, it was 2.99 and basically my first self-pub purchase, so I figured whatever. I had a slightly cheaper wine for dinner that night.
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