Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Musings and Observations

I know I haven't posted anything new since December and I apologize. It's obvious to anyone who visits this blog on a (regular?) basis that keeping up the posts is one of my lower priorities. To be honest, my mind is usually focused more on developing new stories than it is trying to think of something to share here. I'm not saying that I don't care to share with readers via the blog. It's just difficult coming up with something that I think you may find useful/interesting here. I tend to be a private person. I don't think I'm all that interesting (well, that's not exactly true. I think I'm interesting in some ways, just not on a daily basis.) So, I try to share via the blog when I have a new release coming out or when something compels me to write a post. Sometimes, like now, I write a post out of guilt. Still, I hope you glean something useful/interesting from this.

There is something I feel like weighing in about, and that is the quality of self-published books. When I first began writing, self-publishing was considered taboo. It was the last avenue for desperate authors whose writing was considered not worth reading. Since then, the self-publishing revolution has kicked open the gates so any writer could reach readers. I think that's a good thing, because I could circumvent the old gatekeepers, whom I considered elitist. Now, I'm thinking it's also a bad thing, too. There has been a deluge of self-published books, both good and bad, to saturate the market. While there are diamonds in the rough, I think there is far too much rough to sift through in search of those diamonds. Reading is very subjective. What one reader loves, others hate and vice versa. So, it's a complex thing to simply dismiss someone's writing as trash. Sure, there is plenty of garbage out there, but I don't think we can simply dismiss a book because we don't like the subject matter and expect everyone to agree with us. Fans of those books just have different tastes than we do. However, when a book is rife with typos and grammatical errors, well, that's another thing altogether, and that's what bothers me the most.

Since the digital revolution in publishing, the choice to self-publish has been embraced by more and more writers. Some, like me, chose this route for a number of reasons: total creative control, higher royalties, ability to cross multiple genres, ability to write controversial subject matter, etc. Others have simply seen the opportunity to cash-in on no gatekeepers who once stopped them from reaching the masses. This latter group are the ones, in my opinion, who are responsible for the lingering stigma of poor quality that the self-publishing moniker still holds. This is a shame because the authors who actually take the time to edit there work into publishable quality and create beautiful, eye-catching covers are toiling amid a cesspool hoping to give readers the quality that they're used to getting from the traditionally published market. Meanwhile, for each one of these quality authors, about ten to twenty authors are completing their first draft and clicking the Easy Button to what they think is the road to riches.

I know some of these authors who publish what I consider to be crap. It infuriates me to know they are flooding the market with inferior writing. I'm not talking about the subject of their stories, but the mistakes that are in them. It seems to me that these writers are more interested in quantity over quality, and I don't think they care about the readers who legitimately complain about the inferior writing. I believe writers who subscribe to this philosophy want to cast the widest possible net, hoping to snare a larger amount of first-sales. They don't concern themselves with retaining an audience. In addition, I think these are probably the same writers who spam the hell out of the public when they release a new book. "Hey, look at the latest book I wrote. Get your copy today!" is something you hear from them every month or two. They have vast shelves on Amazon, B&N, and elsewhere. I'd even venture to wager that these "books" are less than 10,000 words and priced somewhere around $3 or $4 (the price you might pay for an actual novel--50,000+ words).

There are a few things that bother me about the self-publishing business, but the authors who prefer quantity (of books, not words) is what bugs me the most. They're the ones responsible for flooding the market with crap that readers have to sift through to find quality material. I'm not only a writer, but a reader, too. As such, this bothers me even more because when/if I get a self-published title, I'm already going into the story with low expectations. It's akin to the justice system, but in reverse. Instead of remaining innocent until proven guilty, I view a self-published title as dreadful until proven otherwise, which is why I read so few self-published stories. It shouldn't be this way, but this is what happens when barbarians storm the gates.

I am NOT one of these writers who prefer quantity over quality. Quite the opposite! I try to craft the best story I can. Each story goes through several iterations of editing before I hand it over to a few beta readers (at minimum, two). Once I receive their feedback and address any issues, I give it one more edit to make sure the story stands up to my expectations. If it doesn't, then I don't publish it until it does. I want to fill my virtual shelf, too, but I don't want to fill it with shit. Instead, I want to fill it with treasures (at least, what I consider to be treasures). I can only hope my readers see them as treasures, too. I know I won't please and dazzle everyone, but for those that I don't, I expect their negative reviews to center on the subject matter and not that the writing was horrible.

Soon, I will be publishing a murder mystery called Carniville (mentioned here and here). I'm excited to offer this story because it's my first murder mystery and I really enjoyed writing it. I've already received feedback from my two beta readers and made the necessary changes to strengthen the story. I'm awaiting proof copies to send to several more beta readers so I can gauge whether the story is strong enough to release. If it is, then it should hit the shelves near the end of this month or in early March. If mysteries are your thing, then I encourage you to keep an eye out for it.

If you've read this, I hope you're a reader I was able to please, dazzle, and/or entertain. If you've read one of my stories, do me a favor and leave a review on Amazon, B&N, or wherever you got the book. Feedback (of any kind) is always appreciated and lets me know what I'm doing right or what I need to fix. As always, thanks for stopping by!

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