Go Ahead – Take a Chance on a Self-Published Author

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Confession time! Before I self-published my first book, the whole idea of self-publishing was not on my radar. I’d never, to my knowledge, read a self-published novel. If I’d been asked to define self-publishing, the only thing I would have been able to come up with was a negative impression of vanity presses and the writers who used them.

I didn’t possess a Kindle or any other electronic reading device and had no interest in owning such a thing. I read all the time but my book choices were discovered via print media and radio interviews with authors. I combed best seller and award finalist lists and then either ordered my choices via Amazon, dropped into a Chapters store or visited my local library.

Google imageWhen it became obvious that I was serious about publishing a novel, my son alerted me to the whole idea of self-publishing. Exploration into the indie author world were eye-opening. I purchased a Kindle and, for research purposes alone, I began to buy and read self-published authors. I wanted to know how far removed my book was from what others had self-published.

My first few random purchases were scary. If my eyes were opened to the idea of self-publishing, the reality of what I was reading had me gawking. I was suddenly plunged into a world of unfamiliar genres and, horrors upon horrors, books with all manner of problems. One thing came of these reading adventures. I was sure I could and would compete in the self-publishing world.

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Despite my initial misgivings, I haven’t stopped reading self-published books. I currently read three or four self-published books on my Kindle for every traditionally published book. Suffice to say, this has gone beyond research. I enjoy how my reading horizons have been stretched.

I’m convinced that the self-published books out there in 2015 are simply better than the ones that were around in 2012. But a system is necessary to determine what warrants the dedication of a few hours of my reading time and to help bypass anything that is utter drivel. It works most of the time but now and then a sow’s ear does get through. Such is life and the same thing can happen with traditionally published books.

I study the cover and the book’s synopsis. I’m not looking for something worthy of a slick publishing giant but the cover has to have some well-presented, solid elements and the synopsis has to intrigue me. I read a selection of reviews across the ratings from one to five. It isn’t all about the number of glowing reviews. There are times when a one-star review makes me want to read the book. I make use of Amazon’s look inside feature to read the first chapter. I can skim over a few typos or rambling sentences but if the first chapter doesn’t grab me it’s unlikely the rest of the book will either. I jot down the titles of self-published books that are featured on the sites of trusted book review bloggers and put those books through my system.

I’ve been stretched by stories I never would have imagined that I would read. A boxed set by Johnny B. Truant, entitled The Fat Vampire, is a point in fact. These books are hilarious, well written and have great character development – a total lark.

As an indie author, I encourage readers to follow my system, do your homework and do take a chance on a self-published author. E-books are reasonably priced – most often less than the cost of a latte. And doesn’t reading a good book and having a latte go together?

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Today is Mother’s Day. Many indie authors are moms! Just saying.

“You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand for all that is life.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti)

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21 comments on “Go Ahead – Take a Chance on a Self-Published Author

  1. Your books definitely stand out in the world of self-published works, Fran.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  2. L. M. Webb says:

    Well said. Having just self-published my own first book, I’m going to make a point of taking a chance on the self-published works of other authors. As you say, with Amazon there is the useful ‘look inside’ feature to help one see if the writing and formatting quality is good and if the subject matter is appealing.

    • Definitely – one doesn’t need to go in blind 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment and best of luck with your own self-publishing career and forays into new reading realms.

  3. I think there’s a stigma for self-published novels/authors because of the quality of some of the work that is put out there, but that only makes the good ones a gem. I think the quality has definitely gone up, and just like traditionally-published novels, there are good ones and bad ones.

    • Well said. Like so many things in life – so easy to judge until one actually sticks a toe into the water and experiences the temperature. As I share in this post, I had no idea about this world until I was into it myself. And as you say – good and bad in both publishing worlds. Finding the gems makes it all worthwhile.

  4. Gwen Stephens says:

    Two points you made here struck a chord with me, Fran. What you said about the quality of self-published books is true: this sector of the wide publishing ocean has exploded in recent years, and with it came a vast improvement in the overall quality. Like you, I’ve taken a chance on a few indies and not made it past the first chapter. But the landscape continues to change, and self-pub success stories, such as Wool, have encouraged the masses to broaden their horizons. I also try not to pay attention to Amazon or Goodreads reviews and ratings. I’ve found that I often don’t agree with the collective opinion, so I put a similar system to work and make my own choices. I’m intrigued by the sounds of this Fat Vampire series. Love a good belly laugh to go with my latte. 😉

    • Do check out at least one of those Fat Vampires – I just found the whole concept such a riot. The fine art of satire is not yet dead. When you get right down to it, how we choose a self-published book isn’t really all that different than how we chose books traditionally published. It’s still about being drawn to a particular genre, author, cover art, curiosity, taking a chance – so many things come into play. And definitely – the overall quality is improving.

  5. noelleg44 says:

    It’s a leap of faith to self-publish, and I’ve noticed that indie authors are getting the message – you have to do a bang-up job with the quality of the book or people will write you off (no pun intended).
    So just writing is only the beginning….

  6. TamrahJo says:

    Around 2005, my oldest son threw himself whole-heartedly into supporting Indie Bands –

    Cuz don’t ya know – if they get signed by a major label, they only get, maybe, 3% of the sales they generate –

    BUT, if we all buy their t-shirts and cds direct from them, go see them when they are playing the club near to us, THEN, they get to earn a living doing what they love and their creativity isn’t smothered by the giant marketing machine that desires a string of #1 hits that are forgotten within a year or so –

    Plus, you get to hang out with the lead guitarist during the break, because he’s not worn out from an insane touring schedule and has time to kick back and visit with the fans….

    The local book club recently hosted an author who said, “You have to get a publisher”
    …and then shared that she had to rewrite part of her book to include a cat, cuz the publisher liked wanted the cover mock-up that had a cat in it –

    LOL – I’m tellin’ ya – the self-publishing world opens up a whole slew of possibilities – for authors and readers alike – will just take some time to sweep away the notions spread by those who insist you must shove a cat into your story – – 🙂

    Great post to spread the word and help clear up misconceptions of what self-published means!

    • Wonderful comment, Tamrah – because right – who doesn’t want to work a cat into their story because the publisher thinks that will sell more books. Good grief. I think there is a great parallel between the move to self-publish and the indie music industry. Though, in some ways it seems musicians did a better job at establishing legitimacy. We self-published authors have to work at overcoming the old stigma attached to vanity press. Thanks for reading and weighing in.

      • TamrahJo says:

        I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the self-publishing community has a harder row to hoe than Indie Bands did – I have my own little ‘stereotypes’ and when I read your reply, I thought,
        “Well sure, it’ll be hard – who has more “This is how it is done, properly….” clout –

        The 55 year-old pillar of the community who is the Collection Manager of the Big Library District or CEO of a Big 5 Publishing company who states, “Self-Published works are only done by those who were not good enough to land their own publisher”?
        55 year old worn out, run down, aging rock star who says, “Dude – ya gotta get a manager/label…do you know where I’d be today if I hadn’t?”

        Alas…Now you’ve tweaked my imagination and thought process, TWICE, and now I must go write a blog about it and cross-link over here – :)…Instead hogging all your comments real-estate –


  7. Hello Francis! I can relate to what you’re saying. My first book was published by Tate Publishing Co. but i am seriously thinking of self-publishing my Fantasy Angels Series. It’s a huge step for me.

    • Hi Vashti. I have certainly not regretted my choice to move away from any type of assisted self-publisher and into doing as much as I can myself. There is a learning curve – no doubt about that but ultimately worth the effort. Best of luck and feel free to email me (guenettefrancis@gmail.com) with any questions you might have. I publish out of Canada so that makes things easier on some fronts and harder on others but I’m always happy to help it I can.

  8. Behind the Story says:

    It’s only logical that with a population of 319 million, the people in the United States would be able to write more books than a handful of publishers would want to publish. I’m glad self-publishing has become more acceptable. It gives us a chance to have more variety of content.

    • Good point, Nicki. Not everything is mainstream and commercial and everyone doesn’t want to only read what publishers think will sell. Many readers are far more diverse. Thank goodness 🙂 Vive la difference!

  9. […] been having a nice chat with Francis Guenette regarding the long road of stigma and criticism to be overcome by the self-published author, […]

  10. Roy McCarthy says:

    I finally packed in the book reviewing that I did for a US website. There is no quality control and I was spending many hours trying to be fair to the author while realising the book had no hope – quite often for pure carelessness and lack of editing/proofing. So I endorse your recommendations Fran – check a book out as far as possible beforehand because there sure is a lot of mediocre stuff out there.

    • There are just not enough hours in the day to spend too much time on books that aren’t going to be worth the effort. And I don’t think I’m alone in this – once I’ve downloaded it to my Kindle, I feel a certain obligation to read. Not sure why. It isn’t about getting my money’s worth because I’d feel the same if the book were free. Gotta have a system 🙂

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