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Author Topic: Do you buy self-published fiction via Amazon/Kindle Store?  (Read 8523 times)
francishamit
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« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2016, 1:45:00 am »

Perhaps I should explain further my reasons for doing this.  Part of it is the traditional publishing system which is seriously broken.  There are no real editors there anymore. Maxwell Perkins is long dead and we shall not see his like again as long as the Marketing people are the ones really in charge.  One can only submit to even the smallest presses through an agent and they, too, are in the thrall of what kind of books are proved best-sellers.  I understand this.  It's a business first and foremost and I've done a lot of sales myself, but the volume out there of submissions means that it will be months if not years before you get a reply, if you ever do.  Most of them can't be bothered.  So you are left hanging.

I'm 71 years old and don't have time to wait for people to get back to me.  I can have a book edited and out on Amazon Kindle is less than 90 days and in print with a print-on-demand run at almost the same time.  audiobooks are a little harder because that's a collaboration between you and the narrators and takes several weeks of chapter by chapter work to arrive at a finished product.  I use Audible and I'm proud to say that I have introduced two excellent narrator teras to the Historical Fiction genre and given some individuals exposure with my short fiction. 

I tried a number of agents with my first historical novel, only to be told that historical fiction was considered a dead genre that didn't sell.  That wasn't true then and isn't now.  It was just one person's opinion based upon a bad previous year for sales in that category.  It has nothing to do with the quality of the work.  So I decided to do it myself with the help of my roommate, who was already editing my magazine articles (I've published hundreds of those).   

The knock on self-publishing that it ALL crap is wrong.  Much of it is.  Some of it isn't and every once in awhile something breaks through.  "The Martian" is based upon a self-published novel.  Science fiction is a little more open to new ways of doing things.  But it was the plot that really sold it for film.  I've spent almost six years putting together the one I'm working on now.     It takes time.

Some famous self-publishers that should be familiar to academics include Willa Cather, who won a Pulitzer Prize for one of her books and Walt Whitman.  The self published book from a few years ago that you are all trying to remember is "The Mill River Recluse" by Darcy Chan.  It is a good story and a well written and edited book and her first novel.   She bought a Kirkus review and put it out at 99 cents.  It has sold a few hundred thousand copies, so her bet paid off.  She has made several hundred thousand dollars in royalties and I suspect it will eventually be a movie, probably on Lifetime or the like.

Self published books also win literary awards.  My friend Carol Buchanan won the 2009 SPUR Award for best first novel with "God's Thunderbolt; The Vigilantes of Montana." . 

So.please, do not be too quick to judge these books from prejudice not founded in facts.  Check oput the reviews nd sample them with "Read Inside The Book". before you reject them out of hand.    BTW a lot of academic books are published this way.  I've just brought out one myself for the Security field at $44.00.  Iwon't sell many but I will make some money.  As I said, this is a business.
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eigen
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« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2016, 2:40:09 am »

Yes, there are a handful that are worthwhile.

But they're buried amongst the tens of thousands that are really, really bad. That's the point people in this thread are trying to make.
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voxprincipalis
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« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2016, 9:48:07 am »

Quote
The self published book from a few years ago that you are all trying to remember is "The Mill River Recluse" by Darcy Chan.

No, that's not it. I've never heard of either it or her.

VP
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goaswerfraiejen
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« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2016, 12:15:41 pm »

This is somewhat off-topic, but...


I tried a number of agents with my first historical novel, only to be told that historical fiction was considered a dead genre that didn't sell.  That wasn't true then and isn't now.  It was just one person's opinion based upon a bad previous year for sales in that category. 


I find that astonishing. I'll grant that this probably isn't quite the kind of historical fiction you have in mind, but... when I was a kid (say, fifteen or twenty years ago), there was Bernard Cornwell and pretty much nobody else (at least, nobody active). Today, I can name at least ten authors producing quality work offhand. It's a genre that's exploded, and is finally starting to really come into its own. I would imagine that there was--and is--much more historical fiction around that isn't of the blood and guts HEMA kind.
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univ_librarian
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« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2016, 7:31:02 pm »

Yes,  I've bought self published books on Amazon.  Many (that I've seen) are not well written, are filled with grammatical and spelling errors and just are not very good stories.  However, I've read some ones that I enjoy.  I read romance novels, and frankly I don't have all the room I need to store my stash of paperback romance novels.   I use my Kindle for buying mass market paperback books.  For "real" reading, I want a "real" book. 

Perhaps you didn't know but Amazon will issue a refund on a Kindle book within a short time of the initial purchase; something like 5 days.  If you get a book and it's bad (for whatever reason) just return it for a refund.
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pink_
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« Reply #20 on: January 22, 2016, 8:24:53 pm »

I bought The Martian though I wasn't aware that it was self-published until I finished it. i also have WOOL, I think, because my brother recommended it to me, but I didn't know that was self-published either. Both of the ones I read, I learned about from friends.
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francishamit
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« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2016, 3:28:10 pm »

For those of you in the Los Angeles area, my editor, Leigh Strother-Vien, and I are giving a presentation on Self Publishing at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society(LASFS) this Thursday at 9Pm  Non-members are alws welcome.  The regular meeting starts at 8 Pm if you like science fiction and fantasy and are interested in the club, which has a very large genre library for research.  Don't park around the corner on Aetna. ( It's a hundred dollar ticket after 9 PM), but in the transit lot down the street.    Leigh and I have been at this for ten years.  We'll cover the basics and a little more.  There are limitations, too.

The rap against Self-publishing is mostly promoted by traditional publishers who want to control the market.  Their latest tactic is to tie their authors to them with non-compete and binding arbitration clauses. that apply to any work by that author.  (And you thought Slavery was dead.)    This gives them the power to also kill an author's career through malice, neglect or indifference by simply failing to promote a book.  .    Things like this are why  I often say that the best courses I took as a wrier were Business Law and Accounting.  (I was originally a Business and Drama double major sand laer dd part of an MBA.)
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tinyzombie
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« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2016, 3:30:34 pm »

Yes, there are a handful that are worthwhile.

But they're buried amongst the tens of thousands that are really, really bad. That's the point people in this thread are trying to make.

And people here have been trying to make this point to Francis for years now.
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professor_pat
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« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2016, 9:26:43 am »

This just in from the New York Times, thought it might be relevant.

My favorite line, for multiple reasons, is "Ms. Carlan, whose contract calls for a book every two months, said it was a relief to be able to focus on writing sex scenes."
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francishamit
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« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2016, 4:08:57 am »

"The Mill River Recluse" by Darcy Chan has sold several hundred thousand copies.  It's not a romance either.  Pretty mainstream and highly readable.  Ms. Chan, whose trade is environmental law, priced it at 99 cents and bought  Kirkus review for her first novel.  Word of mouth and some press attention did the rest.   .

A traditional publisher would have given her an advance of $10,000 at the most and a royalty of between eight and fifteen percent.   Amazon gave her 35 cents for every copy sold.  Do the math and you will see why so many other authors have followed her.    It's a business decision.  Most are not getting that result of course, but that's no reason not to try, is it?   

Seriously, I find it odd that taking this route in the film industry is considered bold and trendy, but a mistake for writers.  I think there is some snobbery at work here.  If I were in charge of any kind of academic writing education program I would encourage my students to do some self-publishing, just so they could understand the mechanics of the publishing process.

As my colleague Linton Robinson said "Unpublished work does not really exist"   And Poetry students have been self-publishing for decades to get their work out.     Why not the rest of us?  My new book on Security probably will only sell a few hundred copies.  It's not a hot topic.  So it's priced for the academic/professional market.    I might break even, but a regular publisher would have given me no advance and a small royalty for such a book. 

It's not all about the money.  Creative freedom has a lot to do with it.
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mondamay
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« Reply #25 on: April 02, 2016, 11:37:44 am »

Buy? Rarely.
Will I get it if it is free? Yes.
Reason, mostly because I have Amazon Unlimited.
Note: reading material from Amazon/Kindle store is predominantly for pleasure. I am old and crotchety, if I am reading for other reasons, work related etc, I prefer hard copy. I just can't convince myself that effective serious reading can be done on a tablet/kindle.  I can't make notes in the margins on a kindle.
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francishamit
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« Reply #26 on: April 06, 2016, 10:08:40 pm »

Yet another update:  Sales of e-books generally seem to have fallen off a cliff.  I predicted five years ago that these devices would mostly end up in desk drawers, unused and unloved.  Even Kindle, with its flexible type size and choice of backlighting  has been effected and they are 80% or more of the sales now.  So, will this kill self-publishing?  No.

The problem is that , to read, one must stare into a light and conventional book reading depends upon  light reflected from the page.  This is less stress for the eyes.  But if you are a "road warrior" e-books save a lot of weight and there are many public domain classics available so it's a trade-off. The Kindle Fire also plays music and movies.

Someone recently advised me to lower the price on all my Kindle fiction titles to 99 cents.  His thesis is that readers who sample the e-book  will then buy the print edition.  Others of the "millennial" generation.confirm this.  I thought that the idea might be just crazy enough to work  and decided to try it since I will be tied up for at least another year on the motion picture I am producing.   It's also a way to get more reviews  (A topic fr another time) and , on Amazon, fifty is considered the trigger point for more sales.

Interestingly, my latest book, a memoir, is not part of this program but a review on Kirkus and an ad in the New York Review of Books is driving sales, not of the e-book, but of the print edition at more than double the price. 

I think its a trend.  Feel free to sample my wares on Kindle and post your reviews.  Just 99 cents each. :)       
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chickpea
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« Reply #27 on: April 12, 2016, 10:42:32 am »

I think this is really genre-driven. I write romance ( have been tinkering with it on and off for years, but recently have made a push to professionalize my writing, i.e., shopping for an agent, am putting up a website, have social media accounts in my author name) and therefore read a lot of it. In my genre, there's lots of fabulous self-published work, and a lot of crap also. Courtney Milan is one of the best writers of historical romance and a huge advocate for self-publishing. She also, I know, has an agent, hires an editor, a publicist, and designer for her covers... but she gets the bulk of the profits from her book rather than the publishing house.

I can't speak for other genres at all, but in romance it takes a little research to find the good self-published work - not much, just a little. See who other authors recommend (Sarah MacLean recently promoted a self-pub book on her monthly Washington Post column on romance), follow them on twitter, pick up other recommendations... it's out there.
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prisonerofcanada
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« Reply #28 on: April 12, 2016, 11:02:04 am »

There are some good self-published novels, and some that would be great if an editor got to them. I'll read anything if it's free or $0.99, then stop reading if it's bad or too poorly edited. Even the big houses seem to have skimped on copy editing lately.

The cover art and description go a long way towards showing whether it's worth reading, though I think what many authors miss is one ingredient from the package--great editing, bad cover; great cover, terrible editing; great cover and editing, random e-book conversion with broken paragraphs everywhere.

Self-published authors can take stylistic and genre-hopping risks that others can't, so you can find real gems.
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fiona
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« Reply #29 on: April 12, 2016, 3:04:55 pm »

Some of the worst self-published books I've read (parts of) have been academic novels.

I think a lot of scholars believe that if they can write academic prose, they can write novels.

They can write 'em, sure, but they tend to be boring and wordy. They need good plots and characters, but don't have them.

The Fiona
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