Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

Are the words “self-published” a stigma?

August 26th, 2012 by Debbie's World of Books

With the popularity of the series Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James and Amanda Hocking’s Trylle Trilogy it makes me wonder if people are changing the way they view self-published novels.  Our local newspapers recently published a couple articles about  how technology is making it easier to self-publish and whether or not an author can make it big doing so.

 Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. JamesSwitched by Amanda Hocking

In this article Digital technology offers writers new ways to publish books from the San Jose Mercury News it says although self-publishing has lowered costs of self-publishing a majority of the authors still aren’t selling that many copies of their books.

Another article in the San Jose Mercury News, Self-publishing or vanity press? The answer may surprise you, talks about the authors that have found success doing self-publishing.  They featured Tina Folsom, an author who was rejected by more than 30 literary agents and yet after turning to self-publishing she has made over a million dollars in sales.  The rest of the article was fascinating as it discusses the success of several self-published authors, the stigma of being self-published and where do these authors go from there.

 Samson's Lovely Mortal by Tina Folsom

Do you read or review self-published books?

I have to admit I have mixed feelings about accepting self-published books for review.  I used to accept them here and there and in fact I loved one that I read back in 2009 called The Black Parade by Pattie Garner.  Sadly I have not seen a sequel to it.  Then I had a few negative experiences where I did not enjoy the book, I tried to explain why and I didn’t tear the book apart but as I’m sure most people agree there isn’t a book where 100% of readers are going to enjoy it.  Unfortunately the authors of those books chose to send me nasty notes accusing me of not actually reading the book (even though I specify specific parts of the story that bothered me), not knowing what I was talking about, etc.  Though I know not all self-published authors are like that it just became just such a negative experience that I gave up on accepting those books for review.

What about you? What are your thoughts about self-publishing?  Is there still a stigma attached to it?  Do you read/review self-published books?

ETA: Just to show how this topic seems to be appearing everywhere around me lately…I attended the Litquake over in Palo Alto, CA today and sat in on an awesome YA panel.  The topic of self-publishing came up and of course E.L. James and Amanda Hocking’s names were mentioned.  Basically the panel said while self-publishing is easier these days and it is possible to do it you also have to be prepared to do a lot more work in place of having a publisher to take care of the editing, jacket cover, publishing, publicizing, etc.

Posted in Books

4 Responses

  1. Emily Devenport

    There absolutely is a stigma attached to self-published books. Nine of my novels were published by NAL/Roc, under 3 pen names, and I was even nominated for a Philip K. Dick award. But now that I’m self-publishing my new titles (and I pay to have them professionally edited), getting them reviewed by bloggers is like pulling teeth.

    But I don’t think this is the fault of bloggers. If my blog were a review site, I would have strict rules about what I would review. The simple reason is that many of the folks who are now publishing have no idea what it means to be a professional. The only appropriate response to a negative review is, “Thank you for taking the time to review my book.” Personally, I never respond to an ultra-negative review. Everyone gets them (just check out the ratings for your favorite classics on Goodreads), and there’s no point in taking it personally.

    There are many professional writers out there who are in the same boat as me. The first rule of success in this business has always been perseverance. But it must be tempered with courtesy and patience, or a writer will just seem like an obnoxious jerk. Writing is a humbling experience. You have to be tough to stick with it.

    (Debbie, you can take this part out if you want, but here’s a link to a blog post I wrote about this subject: )

  2. Debbie's World of Books

    Emily-I agree that many times there can be hurt feelings when it comes to others reading and critiquing a person’s work that they spent so long on. They do need to know that there isn’t a book out there that will be unanimously admired. Great advice for aspiring writers out there. Thank you!

  3. Mari - Escape In A Book

    One of the best books I’ve read since I started blogging is actually a self-published; ‘The Fiddler’s Gun’ by A.S. Peterson.

    I fail to see how Hocking’s writing can spellbind so many readers, the idea behind Switched was great but it was poorly executed.

    I’ve stopped accepting books for review altogether so I don’t have to give this much thought. When I started out blogging I accepted self-published novels, but after awhile some of the unprofessional authors out there scared me from it(even when I hadn’t experience anything bad myself).

  4. Debbie's World of Books

    Mari-I’ll have to check out that book. thanks! I’m curious to read Switched now after hearing such varied opinions. It’s curious what catches people’s eyes and makes it go viral. Fifty Shades for instance isn’t the greatest writing and yet it is the story that is propelling erotica back into the limelight. I wonder if it’s the Twilight connection?

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