Friday, February 01, 2013

Re-Thinking 'Indie' Books

For a while now I've been thinking on my attitude toward 'indie' books and authors. Back when I began writing it was pretty straightforward - avoid them at all costs. The truth is that I still generally feel that way. I simply don't have the time to sort through the dross to find something that is any good. And there are no trustworthy sources that I know of that do that sorting for me.
But, the face of self-publishing is changing. Established authors do it for some projects, for their back list, charity anthologies, etc. It can no longer be said that self publishing is synonymous with crap. It's harder and harder to sort out a traditionally published author from self-published authors. And it's becoming increasingly clear that there are some self-published books that are indeed very good - for example, at least one made the 2012 Locus Recommended Reading List - Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey (Amazon).
So, basically, I don't think I can outright refuse to read self-published books anymore. Now, I'm not changing my review policy (and for now the harsh language will remain). And generally speaking, review inquiries for self-published books will continue to go into my spam folder, or get deleted unread, etc. But, when I hear about exceptions often enough, I'll certainly consider them.
Over the past few months I've started to head down this road - I've ordered a few self-published collections/anthologies (mostly for charitable causes). However, over the past few days I've gotten copies of a few, truly self-published books. They are now lined up in the insanely long queue with all the other books I receive. But, I do imagine I will try one or two of them soon. And for me, that's a big change.


Bob Milne said...

Seems to be the trend lately, although you're a bit more tactful about it than Pat. LOL

As I said in response to his post, my queue tend to be pretty evenly balanced between the big publishing houses, the small presses, and self/indie published authors. I've had winners and losers from each but, for me, it all comes down to the story.

Give me a truly original story from an indie author, one that takes some chances, that offers up something new, and I'm more than happy to overlook the editing. A gem in the rough is still a gem, and I'd rather be entertained by the story than impressed by a glossy presentation.

Give me another cookie-cutter tale that does nothing more than lazily cash in on a trend, however, and I don't care how big the publisher is, or what resources they put behind its marketing - even the prettiest trash is still trash.

Larry Nolen said...

Dammit, Ken! I thought you were going to set up your own sort of Hunger Games here for authors to compete for your attention! Oh wait, only schmucks do that, right? :P

I don't advertise it, but I occasionally read some works from micro-presses that might as well be "self-published." Depends on who I know is doing the set-up. One of my top 25 for 2012 selections was self-published, after all, even if it was by an established writer.

Neth said...


Pat's post is what set me thinking this week, but I've been heading this way for a while now. Of course, I didn't really want to throw any more attention at it which is why I left out mention of it.


No, I'm not. I hope that was pretty clear. But I thought a bit of discussion on the evolution of my stance was worth posting this week. Next week I'll boldly declare that every self-published author owes me a beer because of what this post has done for their careers.

The micro-press is part of it. How is it different from self-published (answer - it really isn't). 7 years ago it was all vanity publishing, no editing, etc. Now, the better and smarter self-published authors are getting professional editing, and professional producst put together. I suspect that we'll continue to hear about success stories, though I also suspect they'll continue to be exceptions.

Ted Cross said...

I have so many published books waiting to be read that I still see no reason to read self-published ones. I do have a couple that I intend to get to, though only because I met the authors on Authonomy and know their quality.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Some of the best books I've read in the past year came from self-published authors or those with small presses like myself. I'm not a reviewer, just a reader and author, and I've seen quality work (and crap) on both sides of the fence.

Mieneke van der Salm said...

I won't be changing my review policy either, but like you, I've found that I've slowly had some self-published works sneak in there. Mostly, these are from authors whose short-form work I've enjoyed or who come recommended by sources I trust, so there is still some selection going on.

Pabkins said...

I agree with you - I know there are some good indie ones out there - but I don't have the time to sort them out either from the horribly written ones. As for the traditionally pubbed authors who are now self pubbing for charity. I catch those because I already follow those authors that I love so luckily I don't miss out.
Pabkins @ My Shelf Confessions


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