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Everybody's an author now.

Discussion in 'Book and Publishing News' started by Hugh, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. Peder

    Peder Well-Known Member

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    In a way, I don't quite get the furor over self-pubbed works and their lack of professional editing. It seems to me there is story-telling and there is grammatical excellence, and the two don't necessarily go hand in hand. I'll read a passably interesting story (Grey) despite syntactic and typographic errors, and I don't think perfect typography and grammar will save an uninteresting story (Harlequin). I think it is the same old argument that for people to regard one as educated and worth listening to one should speak correctly. The merit in that argument I'll leave for others to decide (and there is considerable, if one wishes people to open their ears), but I am not getting rid of my kindle and explorations of self-pubbed works. The prices are too attractive, especially for the free first chapters.
     
  2. sparkchaser

    sparkchaser Administrator and Stuntman Staff Member

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    That would just be excessive.
     
  3. robert eggleton

    robert eggleton Member

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    However, true literature is more than whether a reader enjoys a work. Mere enjoyment of a novel is simply masturbation. It doesn't produce any kids. The problem that I see with self-pubs is not related to typos or poor grammer. The issue is how much Literature will continue to contribute to the cultural advancement of society, mankind's survival -- an historic role, especially when it was very difficult to write a book such as the Bible.
     
  4. Peder

    Peder Well-Known Member

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    While I may tend to agree with your larger point regarding literature, you needn't be gratuitously abusive to people who present alternative thoughts.
     
  5. robert eggleton

    robert eggleton Member

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    I apologize to anybody and everybody that took my reply the same way as you. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." I've got nothing against people who involve themselves in activities just for fun or enjoyment -- playing video grames, etc. All such activities have a positive attribute. For example, science is on the verge of demonstrating that simply doing word puzzles helps to fight senility. My larger concern and the reason for my reference to masturbation (which has been proven by medical studies to fight insomnia in male teens), is the contribution that Liturature has historically made to cultural advancement. Given the demise, at least in status, of large publishing Houses, and the proliferation of enjoyment focused, uneditied, self-published writing, what will propel culture without true Literature? Take care, and sorry again.
     
  6. sparkchaser

    sparkchaser Administrator and Stuntman Staff Member

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    So that's why I enjoy reading so much.
     
  7. regdog

    regdog Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't think self-publishing is the end of good literature. The major publishing houses are businesses and the bottom line for them is profit. Not every book they publish are literary masterpieces. There has been a glut of books by pseudo-celebrities. Books by the cast members of "Real Housewives" Jersey Shore" "The Hills" etc are selling. Publishing houses are looking for profits and in many cases having a book written by someone famous is how they are going to cash in regardless of the literary value of the book.


    As for self published books having typos, grammatical errors, formatting errors, the author should care enough about their work to make sure the books are as polished and as perfect as possible before publishing.
     
  8. Miles Goodenuff

    Miles Goodenuff New Member

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    True literature doesn't necessarily depend on good/professional editing - but , in my opinion, producing a good read does need a reasonably literate editor. Even the best of authors rarely picks up all his (or her) own errors, however many times he or she reads it through, and it grates on the nerves of a reader to keep coming across twisted grammar and structure.

    Self-publishing is OK if you have a good editor to check the book first - although, unfortunately, many of those who charge large amounts of money to edit an author's work really don't do a very good job of it. Some of the smaller publishers, many of which specialise in ebooks, are a little better, but some errors are still missed. It's a matter of economics; as most ebooks (and print-on-demand books) don't sell in large numbers, you can't expect the same degree of "perfect" text you'd expect from a "traditional" publishing house who can push large amounts of money and resources at something they are fairly certain will sell in large numbers. A small publisher can read and correct a book perhaps two or three times before publishing, and there will inevitably be the occasional error that is missed.

    I don't think that's all bad. Without the self-publishing and the efforts of the very small publishers, there would be thousands of really great books that otherwise would never have been available. In most cases, the reader can pick up whether or not a serious effort has been made to edit it properly by looking at the cover, the blurb, and the extract that almost invariably appears with the book on retailers' web sites. And, to complicate it all, there are many, many authors who have great ideas, are often great storytellers, but whose command of language and ability to produce a really "good" book is seriously lacking. Someone mentioned "Frankenstein" earlier - and, as most literary critics will tell you, it's not a great work of literature. It is, however, one of the greatest, enduring themes that has ever been written, and what a loss to the world if a publisher had said, "Sorry, it's not a great piece of writing, so we won't publish it."

    Many small publishers will edit and publish free of charge for any reasonably good piece of writing - simply taking a percentage of sales revenue. That's not a bad way to get published. At least you know that they'll make maximum effort to produce the best finished product they reasonably can, given a sensible balance of the amount of time spent against the likely sales revenue, but you also know that your final published book probably won't be perfect.

    I've written just one short novel myself, and "anonymously" co-written thirty others of varying lengths. All were edited and published by a small publisher (which I have a direct financial interest in - so my views aren't entirely unbiased). The books sell small quantities regularly, but I'm not going pretend they're going to sell millions. I write because I enjoy it, which is more important. Any money I make is nice, but of secondary importance.
     
  9. robert eggleton

    robert eggleton Member

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    Yes, I support the concept of small, highly reputable small presses to be the front of our upcoming revolution in Literature.
     
  10. Backwoods

    Backwoods New Member

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    I would argue that the entertainment industry as a whole has thrived on the new and the imaginative. The endless examples seem too many to list.

    I too, am not one for vampires, werewolves and the like. Although I do appreciate the technologically enhanced versions of the classics, I would not imagine that that the best has already passed us by.

    The floodgate has indeed been opened and the waters risen high, but larger waters bring larger fish. The great minds of the past may have been lost in the slush piles, but the great minds of today no longer depend on one poor soul, buried under mounds of paper, to sort through it. They can now handle the task on their own and instead, allow an audience of millions to sort through it.

    You never know, they might just come from the Backwoods.
     
  11. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    Oi! That's skating on very thin self promo ice there!

    Back on topic - I agree with you about the entertainment industry thriving on the new which is why there has always been a niche for the 'indie' guy. And there definitely is a tendency amongst the big publishers / producers to only back a 'sure thing' which usually is either extremely good, or closely resembles something that is known to sell.

    However having said that, a lot of that stuff that was in the slush pile kind of belonged there, and it remains to be seen if the flood of indie publishing is helping the good stuff rise to the top, or if it's drowning it.
     
  12. Backwoods

    Backwoods New Member

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    It will be interesting to see how it plays out. There are many sub-standard stories in the mix, likely even most. I am confident however, that the growing sites such as Goodreads, Smashwords and this one included, will ease the transition into this digital age. Unfortunately I must agree that the slush pile has grown to an overwhelming monstrosity.

    We will likely catch a great many small fish that aren't worth the time before that biggin' comes along, but I will be fishin' just the same. As with any day at the lake, it could always be that next bite and a bad day of fishing sure beats a good day of anything else.

    We will find our favorites and the industry will thrive. As stated in an earlier post, the printing and advertising companies will benefit more so than most, and yes, lets hope they are paying their taxes.
     
  13. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    The trouble is that in the flood, how do you even begin to find anything let alone the good stuff. At least with a 'properly' published book (with some notable exceptions) you are at very least going to get a product where the spelling and grammar are OK (in theory anyway). Liking it is of course a personal thing - but at least you can READ it.
     
  14. Backwoods

    Backwoods New Member

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    It is true that many self-published works are very inadequate in their grammar. I do feel however, that many are just fine. As long as it is not so bad as to interfere with the actual reading of the story, it does not bother me personally. I put a great deal of time and effort into my own stories and I will admit that I have my own errors from time to time, but so has nearly every 'published' story that I have read. Would you not rather read a story from a wonderful storyteller than an English professor with perfect grammar and a limited imagination. Some of the greatest stories I have heard were told by little old hillbillies with a brutal twang and a heck of a beer buzz. Of course, most of them think a computer is a mathematician.
     
  15. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    An odd typo that slipped through is fine - poor writing, poor grammar, abuse of adjectives, and an over-dependence on a thesaurus is not fine :)
     
  16. Backwoods

    Backwoods New Member

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    And with that, we finally agree. It has been a pleasure debating with you. I look forward to round two. I will keep my eyes peeled for another topic.
     
  17. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    LOL you could always start one :)
     
  18. Richard Falken

    Richard Falken Member

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    In absolute terms, self-publishing business models help increase the number of authors. Whether it brings more bad than good literature is open to discussion.

    I don't think quality goes down so badly. The authors I have met at conventions and other events take their jobs very seriously and professionally. My first book went through SIX different pairs of hands -reliable proof-readers, above average ones- before even considering a promotion or selling plan for it.

    The problem, in my opinion, is that the work of authors and editors has been devalued. There are lots of books and not so many readers. In addition, they think that publishing certain works is near free, so they expect the books to cost near zero. This is Ok in the cases in which the book production is cheap, but for some reason, people does not understand that an ebook which was created in three years and has taken thousands of pound to publish costs more than 3 pound. Just saying.

    Saying that somebody who has not been published by a press is not an author is not correct in my opinion. He is an author even if he is not published. You can argue that he is surely not a good author -and yet, I could argue that most published works from big firms here are rubbish anyway.

    I don't think self-publishing industries are that all ground breaking for the most part. They don't solve marketing issues, which has always been the main problem, so their cultural impact is reduced at the very least. I print my own works in a local printing company and leg it to deal with the bookstores directly, and I don't think I am doing it worse than those who use ad hoc publishing platforms.
     
  19. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    What came first - the chicken or the egg? More specifically you accuse readers of expecting cheap or free books and thus devaluing the market, but I disagree, I think it is the authors who have devalued themselves. In their efforts to get readers and therefore reviews too many books have been given away for free and the pressure from sites such as Goodreads and Amazon to take part in give-aways in order to promote your book, has not helped either.

    My philosophy, if you value your work, put a proper price on it. If you don't value it enough to do so, no one else will.
     
  20. Richard Falken

    Richard Falken Member

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    It is not about the money. It is about people thinking publishing is a zero effort task. In fact, I have nothing against cheap or free books -I have work under Creative Commons myself.

    Authors releasing books for less than a dollar contribute to the economic cataclysm of this market, but think about it. With more books than readers, and many books that don't sell at all, the natural tendency of such a market is to produce cheaper and cheaper ebooks. If your book does not sell at 10$, you will try setting a price of 5, then 3 and then 0.99. You will go lower until the book starts selling or it compensates no more and you decide to pack your toys and go home.

    Then again, my main problem is not costs, but people underestimating the actual effort it takes, which leads to the devaluation of the work itself and the misunderstanding of what it does take to publish anything.
     

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