Julie Cross Online

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Seeking Advice Regarding Potentionally Taboo Blog Topic


This is totally an unscheduled post and I almost did this as a Facebook status update, but it would have been too long.

Anyway, I had this idea last night for a blog series in which I pick a self-published YA book and start reading it...I jot down my reader opinoin thoughts and possibly some writer opinoin thoughts and read until I either finish or lose interest. Then I explain my thoughts in a blog post.

This series will be called something like, "The Great YA Self-Pubbed Search."

But I have a feeling this might be taboo or highly frowned upon, so I figured I'd explain why I want to do this and then hopefully some (or all) of you can weigh in with your opinoin.

Here's my inspiration behind this theme....first off, I know everyone talks about the self-pubbed stigma and the friction between the traditionally pubbed authors vs the self published authors and all of that, but I'm being 100% honest when I say that before my first introduction to a self published YA novel, I didn't even know this stigma existed. I don't think I even realized how to tell if a book was self published at first. I thought all the e-books on Amazon where published by Amazon digital services.

Over a year and a half ago, I read a book called BETWEEN THE LINES by Tammara Webber...I stumbled on it on goodreads and it sounded awesome. And then I went to purchase it on my Kindle and it was like $2.99 or $3.99 and I was like Sweet! Bargain book. And then I read it and just looooved it. Had no idea it was self-published...then my Kindle started recommending all these other books that were $2.99 and I was like, this is amazing! I can read three of these $2.99 books or one of the $9.99 and for someone who averages three books a week, $2.99 sounded like the way to go.

I started reading these books...the descriptions sounded good and everything....but the writing and the plot and a whole bunch of other stuff was just not readable in 99.9% of the books. I got really frustrated because my book budget was tight and I just wanted some fun books to read like BETWEEN THE LINES and I was almost mad at Tammara Webber for spoiling me like that. It's all her fault. Luckily, she wrote three more amazing books after that first one.  

Just as a side note, I'd never heard of or read E.L. James or Amanda Hocking's books until the traditionally published versions were out so I can't throw them into my opinoin mix as far as reading a version that hadn't been touched by a big 6 editor. And btw, I did an event with Amanda in August and let me tell you, she is one awesome lady with an amazing story, so trust me, I'm not people bashing.

BUT, when someone asks me what I think of self-published books, from my perspective, I have to honestly say that I haven't really found much that's even remotely near quality reading. Or if I'm really trying to divert from negativity, I'll say, "Well...I love Tammara Webber's books." HOWEVER, I have only read in the YA, MATURE YA, and NEW ADULT genres of self-published titles so I can't speak for adult books of any kind or anything else besides the above mentioned genres.

I'm not trying to be a snob or an intellectual or whatever I swear, I just want to know why, if all these thousands of people are self publishing, I can't find a decent YA story for $2.99/$3.99?! Please somebody suggest a title for me if you think I'm awful for even saying what I've said thus far! I'm not that picky. I'm really not. I don't even plan on delving into mechanics or grammar or those types of issues with the books I read.

Think of my situation like a person who has only been exposed to bruised bananas all their life and so they just tell everyone that they don't like bananas because what else are they going to say? Put a good banana in front of them and perhaps their opinoin will change.

So, do you guys want to see me discuss specific YA self-pubbed titles on my blog and explain my personal reader thoughts and state at what point I stop reading? Remember, I read A TON of YA books and I constantly run out of books to read, so I'm not going to get all writer-snobby on you or anything. I really mean it when I say, I love books and just want to find good ones. I don't want to do this with the intention of hurting someone or hating on their books, I only want to do it if it will be beneficial to my blog readers.

What's your vote: YES or No?? And do you have a specific title suggestion? Feel free to include a link but just YA or NEW ADULT stuff. I can't commit to reading every suggested title though because it has to spark my interest or else it's not fair to the author to have me discussing a book that's sub-genre isn't my thing anyway. **Hint--contemporary YA/NEW ADULT is my favorite.

19 comments:

  1. Yeah, it would be nice to see some good points on the self pubbed ones out there.

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  2. I would love for you to do this! There are some self-published gems out there, for sure! Two of my favourite books of 2012 are self-published (On Dublin Street by Samantha Young (Adult) and Taking Chances by Molly McAdams (New Adult/Mature YA), and another was originally self-published, but has now been picked up by a traditional publisher. That one is On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves.

    Most of the self-published titles I've read have been 'New Adult' but if I find any good YA Contemps to recommend I'll let you know.

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    1. Actually, I love New Adult! Tammara Webber's books are pretty much New Adult. And of course Tempest has a college-aged main character. I just tend to lump that in with YA.

      And just to be super, super clear, I haven't actually read any adult self-published books so maybe there's a million amazing ones out there, but I haven't read them.

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    2. I have a New Adult shelf on Goodreads I'm going to link here. I think you might find something good there. Most of the books on the list were originally self-published, but many have now been picked up by traditional publishers. I'm adding new titles all the time!

      http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/3606833?shelf=new-adult

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    3. I second the recommendation on On Dublin Street - but it's definitely more sexy New Adult than YA.

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    4. I am going to check out this list now! thanks so much. I loooove New Adult and older Ya. It's usually my favorite because it's more edgy.

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  3. I highly suggest you do this, in the end it will help the YA authors improve to become better. And in most cases people don't realize they're own mistakes (if they have any) until someone else points it out. In some cases your right, some people take it in a negative way and in most cases they will thank you.

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  4. You might want to check out Jane Smith's blog: the Self-Publishing Review (http://theselfpublishingreview.wordpress.com/ ) Granted, in her case, these are books she's sent rather than books she's sought out, but the ratios don't really change. She has a threshold of mistakes (I think it's 15) and stops reading if she hits it in a very few pages -- most SP books she's sent don't make it to the double-digits for "pages read."

    You have to be a little careful as a published author doing this because someone (and there's always a someone) is going to take it as "bullying" no matter your intention. It's kind of sad to think that once you're published, your opinion as a reader has to take a back seat, but there's already an "us vs. them" mentality out there with too many people.

    I'd love to see it work, but I can only see it going two ways -- either you'll post good reviews and get flooded with requests from other SP authors who want and expect the same, or you'll post negative (when called for) reviews and get jumped on for "picking on" SP writers.

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    1. oh wow...Jane Smith sounds like a tough cookie! I'm not usually bothered by mechanical errors and I'd never stop reading for that reason. I make so many myself...it will be the story, and plot and such...I wonder if I just shouldn't give the book title or author's name?

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    2. That might actually work. Giving the names of books you could recommend, and using unnamed books for less-than-stellar reviews could be a useful tool, I think.

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    3. I agree with Josin (hi Josin!) that this topic triggers a lot of tempers--I've seen a lot of ugly tantrums when self-pubbed books are criticized. Having read a fair number of your blog posts, though, I'm sure you'll handle with your usual honesty and tact.

      However potentially difficult, I'm glad you decided to reveal the name of the book you just read for your 12/14, post though. I think a lot of readers are looking for quick, inexpensive reads, and the more reviews there are for the titles, the better. As people get more and more savvy about marketing, almost everything can look/sound great these days, but not everything is.

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  5. I think it's a great idea. There are thousands of people out there, just like you, needing to separate the gems from the rough drafts. You might encounter a little push-back, since there seems to be an unwritten rule on blogs and social media that we must LOVE LOVE LOVE each other all the time, but I value critical reviews-- both as a writer and a reader.

    May I make one suggestion? This blog post had a number of typos in it. If you're going to be critical, you should probably be extra-careful about typos. That's the kind of thing that will make people jump down your throat, especially if they're feeling defensive.

    Good luck!!

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    1. lol! I am the QUEEN of typos! Which might make me a very good person to take on this project because I'm not the expert editorial type...I doubt I'll ever point out issues with mechanics or grammar in a review. I'm the last person who should be critiquing those items. But story development, characters, pace, voice...those are my strengths.

      and I'm going to try and fix those typos right now...assuming I can find them. Usually, I have to stay away from my writing for a week or two before I can catch my own mistakes. Perhaps I can put a warning at the top of the post...*this blog may contain typos and does not claim to be perfect :)

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  6. As a self-published author myself, I really enjoyed reading this blog post. Unfortunately there is a huge stigma to being self-published and people are always shocked whenever I tell them that I was actually offered a publishing contract and turned it down because it didn't work for me. But I have met so many really fantastic self-published authors that I am utterly convinced that it does work and that the ratio of good-to-not so good is not at all so much different than the ratio you will find in the average book shop. There isn't a stringent process by which self-published work gets produced, but it is a self-censoring sort of process which separates the fervent from the ambivalent. So yeah, I think this would be a fantastic idea and I think that the world is changing so that the perceived snobbery of the past against self-published work is fading. :D

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    1. Eliza, I was really hoping you were going to weigh in on this topic, but I didn't want to put you on the spot. I've only explored the YA genre in self-published books, so with that said, do you think the ratio might be a little different in that genre than when you mix all the other genres?

      And you aren't the first person I've heard that's turned down a publishing contract to self-publish...there are all kinds of reasons people do this and also there's a lot of authors doing both. Especially in the romance genres.

      I'm just fascinated with it because I know that I couldn't write a decent book completely on my own. I'm just not there yet and I'm not sure I ever will be.

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  7. Patricia Lynn's BEING HUMAN, J. Meyers' INTANGIBLE, and Anthea Sharp's FEYLAND: THE DARK REALM are all awesome self-published books, IMO, with quality that shows. They are all fantasy/paranormal in nature, though. Oh, and MOON SPELL by Samantha Young and JENNY POX by JL Bryan are both great, too. Young does great romances, and Bryan's book is just some weird, cracktastic horror/YA combo - though both books are first books and suffer from excessive prose. I honestly haven't read a strong contemporary self-pub yet, although I have a few to try or buy eventually.

    Best of luck! I honestly am super excited to hear about your reading results.

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  8. I would be very interested to read this! You should definitely do it. It sounds like you have a great perspective for it as well.

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  9. This is such an interesting post. I love the idea of coming up with a list of great SP reads (I already got some for my list just by reading this! Thanks!). It's amazing how differently we come at our reading. I, too, look for characters, pace, plot, voice, etc. BUT the second I come across typos or grammatical errors, I'm jolted from the story. It can happen a few times and I'm OK, but I gotta say, I really appreciate Jane Smith's standards. To me, that is what separates good SP from traditionally pubbed stuff: *skillful editing* That includes content and copy...story development and typo/grammatical error eradication.

    I'd say go for it with this series of reviews, just think "golden rule" when it comes to criticism and stay constructive. :-) Thanks for the food for thought (and new reading list!)

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  10. Well, basically you're offering to wade through a lot of self-pubs and weed out the bad ones so the rest of us don't have to. Works for me. But please do include the specifics, i.e. was it the story or the mistakes that turned you off. It makes a difference.

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Tell me what you think!