Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quality Control Rant

Self publishing has opened doors for writers, no question. It has also made the shopper's job that much more a research project than a leisurely browsing of titles.

When I buy a book from Avon, I can almost promise I'll enjoy the read. When I download a $0.99 cent ebook from an indie publisher, I can almost promise that there will be some major format/typo problems that will push me right out of the story. There will also be those side tracking bits than an editor would have asked the writer to cut because they're irrelevant. There will be word repetition to a point that my eyes find that word on the page before reading the first sentence. This is not an absolute, but it has happened more often than not. 

You really can't trust 5 star customer reviews because they  start out as all from the author and his/her friends. I downloaded a 5 star book once that turned out to be a sad retelling of Twilight that sounded like a teenager wrote it. When I gave it an honest review, there was an immediate rebuttal giving another 5 star rating. Now buying an ebook involves way too much thought.

I love to lose myself in a book. Life is crazy and I really cherish moments of escape. I hate it when reading something I paid for becomes an automatic critique/editing session (hard to turn the writer off). I am not escaping when the book I looked forward too turns out to be historical only in that women wore dresses of some sort or McDonald's is misspelled.

I see more stringent categorizing in the future for self published books, but I worry that they will be based on who paid for a certain service or level of marketing and who did not rather than what books are well written.

When I think of the excessive back story, horrible cliches, genre inconsistency, and history-teacheresque aspects of my first book and my certainty that it was a masterpiece I worry over newbie writers who just churn out their whatever and sell it. There's no more learning curve for them to help them advance as writers. Write. Publish. Done. Rejection and research has made me a much better writer today than I was when I started. If I had just self published then, I would have been crushed by poor reviews and probably given up.

It's unfortunate that experienced writers who know their craft and opted to go indie rather than jump through hoops for a publisher or losing $ to an agent are lumped in with all the crap out there.

What can be done to protect the ebook buyer from the ebook saturation of bad books?


Jennifer Hoffine said...

Yes, a past crit partner was fond of saying that the cream will rise to the top...I don't think the self-pub world has figured out a way for that to truly happen yet.

Tracy said...

You've hit the nail on the head when it comes to the current ease of self-publishing! There are some truly talented self-published writers out there who went that route for one reason or another... but the problem is, as a reader, there is virtually no way to tell those authors from the ones who aren't able to objectively evaluate their own work without wasting money and/or reading time.

Jen said...

Excellent post! Self publishing makes publishing a reality for so many people and yes there are great writers out there who opt for this venue. I honestly don't know how to keep the good ones separated from the terrible ones. It comes down to quality and how serious a writer is about presenting their best story, their best self so to speak. It's a tough issue for sure.


Francine Howarth said...


Hee hee, it's a case of sink or swim for Indie authors, me included. And, I've been a conventionally published author in the past.

I'm going to really stick my neck out here and say, many of the higher-ranked self-pubbed books (gained on reviews by blogging buddies and family/friends) are awful. And your comment "excessive back story, horrible cliches" not only common practise, the worst are those that bore one senseless with cardboard characters and or lack-lustre dialogue.

I can forgive the odd typo and odd formatting hiccup in a self-pubbed novel because I review books from the big publishing houses, which are always pre-publish proof copies: full of hiccups, and very often published as witnessed in proof! Also, books by Avon etc, are often historically incorrect: loads of faux pas.

All that said, I've found the best self-pubbed books usually have few or no reviews and they're superb!


Golden Eagle said...

It's definitely true that traditional publishing has a measure of quality control--some published books aren't great, of course, but at least the author has (probably) been given impartial treatment by readers.

Avadonja said...

I did just self publish and paid a lot of attention to making sure what I put out there is a quality product for what it is (a novella length romance about elves). Then again, I still am trying for the traditional route so I'm used to the hoops, fine tuning, revision, genre guidelines, etc... and care about advancing my craft.
I did just read a horrible book. I really wanted to like it - you know, sister solidarity with a fellow indie author. Oh well. I think she may have been 15 or something.

Siberyak (Jeff Martin) said...

I have been burned two or three times in the last month or so from self published authors. I have also found several, very worthy books. That being said, I have also been beyond frustrated with books published by big name publishing companies, that have probably gone through the hands of half a dozen editors and critics. Trial and error is the only way I know of right now to seperate the afore mentioned cream.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Because of that problem I've taken to ignoring most reviews and just going straight to reading the sample chapters. I can pretty much tell in the first page whether or not it will be worth the read.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I agree with Lynda and her reading of sample chapters. That seems to be the best indicator of quality.

Great post!
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Angela McCallister said...

I read excerpts also unless it's a book by an author I read regularly. Also, if there are lots of reviews, it's easier to tell if the book is likely to be good. With only a handful, it could be friends/family. I agonize over posting about a friend's book because I don't want to give it less than five stars, but I'd feel guilty if I thought it was only a three or four. I often don't post reviews unless I truly felt is was worth five. Ya know, if you have nothing good to say...

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