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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Book Blogger Hop: Do You Prefer Traditional Or Self Published?

 Book Blogger Hop is a series of weekly blog post prompts on a web site called Coffee Addicted Writer. Some people use it faithfully, weekly. I only use it occasionally, usually when I’m low on ideas. I was going to write a post about Richard III, but he is having a birthday this week and I have written quite a few already, so I will leave it for Saturday.

This week’s question/prompt asks,  “Are you more willing to read traditionally published books than self-published (indie) books? Or do you not have a preference?”

I probably should be avoiding this topic like the plague, because there is a lot of argument about it; you can lose friends or get blocked on social media over it if you say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I was once blocked from a blog by a woman who was always snarling against “traditional” publishing and publishers, for commenting that I hadn’t had any of the problems she mentioned with my publishers. I should add that this woman had yet to self publish her first book at the time and, judging by comments she made on other people’s blogs, she still hadn’t done it, well and truly after she bounced me from her blog.

To answer the question as best I can, it depends. Quite a few very good self published books are out there. Some have even won awards. I just don’t go hunting for them. There is so much being published these days that it’s hard to filter the wheat from the chaff. 

I get requests for reviews of self published books all the time, despite my blurb saying I don’t review them. The ones sent by marketing companies give me samples or links to the authors’ websites and I have to say, I have yet to be even tempted to request the books concerned! 

But there are authors who have taken to self publishing after a career in “traditional” publishing. Felicity Pulman, author of the YA  Janna book mysteries, self published the last two because the publisher, for reasons unknown to me, dropped her contract. I bought those for my library because there were kids reading the series. She ended up selling the whole series to an American publisher. 

Another friend, Simon Haynes, had a brief flirtation with the regular publishing industry before returning to self publishing. I never asked him why, but I suspect he found he could publish more by himself. He knew how to do layout and get artists, and he knew how to publicise his work. And he is so prolific that I can’t keep up with his science fiction comedies, and publishers certainly can’t. They have an annual list and you could be waiting two or more years for your book to come out, assuming it has been accepted.

Sometimes your small press closes down before you can see your book in print. You may be lucky enough to find another publisher, but it takes time.

There are a lot of reasons why people make this decision. I know someone, SF author Patty Jansen, who has done very well with it, but Patty has also sold enough short fiction to US markets to be able to join the Science Fiction Writers of America. 

Basically, I will read and review books by authors whose work I have read and liked before, in “traditional” form.

I won’t hesitate to read Barbara Hambly’s Smashwords short stories and novellas. It means I can read more stories about 19th century African American sleuth Benjamin January and his friends, or the wonderful wizard Antryg Windrose after he fled his own universe for ours, or James Asher and his wife Lydia and their vampire friend Simon Ysidro. The stories are too short for a regular publisher, but are perfect in self published ebook. 

I don’t think self publishing a first book is a good idea, but you never know. Matthew Reilly did it, and was discovered. Eragon was first self published when the author was about fifteen, and that was discovered and the rest is history. But these are not the majority, any more than everyone whose work is published by someone else will become a New York Times bestseller. 

I have read some good self published work, but also some truly dreadful books by authors who would have been better to spend their money on writing lessons than marketing companies. 

So… it depends. 

What do you think? 


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Generally speaking, I only buy and read self-published books if they are by authors who I personally know (usually blogging buddies). Otherwise, I stick to traditionally-published books. But then again, I also read a ton of fanfiction which is all self-published, of course, and free! So there you go!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Debra! You sound like me. I own a ton of fan fiction from the days when it was published in print. Even there, I soon learned whose fanzines were good and whose were rubbish. So, there were ways to filter stuff I was reading. These days you just don’t know, with thousands of stories on line. I have read some very good on line fan fiction, though not recently, but it was by chance.

That said, there are quite a few big names authors who started in fan fiction. Some are still writing it! 😉t

AJ Blythe said...

I have a few auto-buy self-published authors, but for every hit I have to read an awful lot of misses. With less time these days for reading, I've stopped reading self-published unless I get a recommendation. If I'm going to spend time and money on a book I want to know it's worth it. And that's not being derogatory to self-published authors. There are those who spend a lot of time doing it right. Sadly, there a lot who write their first draft and throw it out there. Personally, I want to be traditionally published first, but I am very open to down the track then self-publishing.

And as a PS, it helped the author of Aragon had parents who owned a publishing company...

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Anita! Yes, I have the same issues with separating the wheat from the chaff. If interested it’s worth checking out Prolific Works, with free self published books, which does involve going on the newsletter list of your chosen author. After all, it’s for marketing purposes. I have only done it a couple of times, myself. Some self published authors offer a back list book free for a while, which gives you the chance to decide.