Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Self Published vs Traditional - Who Cares?!

Just recently a friend and fan of mine posted about who and why she loved self published authors. I was on her list. *coughs and looks sheepish* What tickled me most about it was she listed me as an exception to her indie preferred options, because I only had the one self published title, with another upcoming. I actually had FIVE self published titles, and come May it'll be six (amendment - since the time of first writing this, I will shortly have TEN self pubbed stories due to my publisher's closure, leaving just one title still with a publisher). This error amused rather than offended me. Since self publishing still has somewhat of a stigma hanging over its head (every time I think the entire world has got over that issue, I come across another splash of self pub hate to remind me it's still there), I took this as a compliment. My covers and content had obviously held up to the same quality that some/most? expect of a traditionally published book.

But do readers, in general, even notice if a book is self pubbed or trad if a self published book is up to the same high standard that traditional books are always touted as being (even though that has also been proven untrue. I've certainly seen my share of awful trad book covers and read a few that made me question my sanity as to how they got published. Of course, that's only my personal opinion. Obviously someone loved that book enough to get it published). What constitutes a 'good' book is so much down to individual taste.

As an author perhaps I'm far more aware of the different publishing methods than the average reader (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), but even I don't generally take much note of who published a book. I know with most of the books that I read I'm aware if they're self published or not, and I know which of my colleagues are self, trad or hybrid authors (for the record I considered myself hybrid with half my books small press published and half self published). I tend toward buying small press published books because that's where I'm published and where many of my colleagues are published so I know what books are coming out that I might like, plus they tend to be cheaper than the Big Five. Out of the Big Five books, I couldn't tell you offhand who the publisher actually is (other than knowing one of my fave authors was published by Gollanz and I now hate them for not renewing her contract, and that I won't touch a Penguin book with a barge pole). In general I don't buy many Big Five books at all.

When it comes to a self published book by an author I don't know anything about, I do tend to be more wary. I read all the reviews, the blurb, the sample, and look to see if an editor is named. Providing I don't find any typos (seriously, if there are typos/grammar errors in the blurb, I won't even bother with the sample) and it reads well, I'll buy it. But to be honest, I'm almost as selective with trad books, and I buy far, far fewer of those.

I know from association and personal experience that most self pubbed authors take as much, if not more pride and care in their works. I know I don't want to put out anything other than my best. I pay for good cover art and my editor is awesome, and more than worth what she costs. I also know that not all authors have the budget for those things, but again do their utmost with what they can. So would a reader who isn't an author notice if the book was self pubbed or trad? Does it matter? Does being a reader who is also an author make you notice the fact more? I'd love to know what you think.

Status Update

At the time of first writing this post, the news of my publisher's closure had not yet broken. I'm still a little shell-shocked just over a week down the line. But it has spurred my decision to go fully self published, especially since it seems my readers don't see a noticeable difference between my small press and self pubbed works. So as we speak I'm busy not only preparing Keir for re-release, but also four of my five Breathless Press titles. These should all be up by the end of May. Tethered and Restless In Peaceville will be getting new cover art, while When Dark Falls and No Angel will have marginally modified covers (ie no BP logo). The interiors all need the back and front matter updated.

Why only four of the five titles? Well, I won't be re-releasing the latest - Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened - due to a change of plan. If you're curious about the numerous reasons for this decision, I've blogged about it in greater detail HERE. If you really want the story itself, you have just three days to buy it HERE along with all my books for just $0.49 each. From the 1st of May, they'll all be down.

In the meantime, I will still be re-releasing Keir, while the sequel - Keir's Fall - is due to start edits in June for release before the end of 2015 (you can already add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE, and if you'd like an early preview of the cover before the official reveal, you can sign up for my newsletter HERE. The next issue will be out when Keir releases). I also have a side story scheduled for edits in October, a related book scheduled for release June 2016, and revisions will begin on book three in the series during 2016 as well.

Not enough? Well, depending on how everything else goes and bearing in mind the sudden unexpected costs for cover art, my winter solstice SFR short, and a SFR novella in the Venus Ascendant universe will be done as and when I can afford it. As of today, the solstice story is still incomplete and likely to go over to 2016. The novella just needs a tweak before edits, but that's dependant on money for editing and cover art at this point.

However, I also have my f/f angel story out on submission (yeah, I know I said no more publishers but this is a one-off special for a charity anthology) and I should hear about that soon.

On the brighter side, I won Camp NaNoWriMo and Restless In Peaceville scored an Honourable Mention in the LR Cafe's Best of 2014 Awards in the YA/NA category. My cute little zombie story done good.


Two years ago I joined Romancing the Genres (an international blog of romance authors writing in a variety of romance sub-genres) as a Generista, and on the 29th and 30th of May we'll be celebrating the blog's 4th Blog-o-versary with a Facebook party HERE.

Come celebrate 4 years of blogging fun/wisdom with authors from around the Globe. It's 48 hrs of non-stop fun and prizes! (We do rest occasionally to get our adrenaline back!) Be there. We have NY bestseller Carla Neggers signed up. We also have Kathryn Falk, Founder of RT Book Reviews and those wonderful conventions. Many, many more talented authors!

Join our star studded line-up and chat with your favorite authors!

I'll be there at 11am PST on the 30th, giving away some of my books. :)

The SFR Station's April Fools for Love event and giveaway is still running for a couple more days. Hop along quick if you want a shot at any of the prizes on offer!

In the meantime, I have five titles to get ready for re-release. Excuse me while I go freak out...


  1. The really good author-publishers, the serious ones who have a consumate passion for what they do, invest a lot to make their books be of impeccable quality, so much so that they're usually indistinguishable from traditionally published ones. And sometimes look & read much better than ones published with small, overloaded presses.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is it pays out to invest in the quality of one's self-published book, whether it's in editing (and revising, revising, revising), book cover, blurb & overall presentation, and marketing, or better yet -- all of them together. Readers will be able to enjoy the story and even develop loyalty to the author, if nothing disrupts their experience. :)

    1. I agree - paying out for good cover art and edits is worth the expense. Marketing - well, I've yet to find anything that give a decent ROI for me, and I'm limited in what I can do.

  2. I can usually tell if a book is self published by the cover. Depending on the press, I can usually tell if it's small or ebook first/only, too. Entangled is a big exception to that--they make fabulous covers that contain the same elements that the big 5 publishers have on their books, and they pay attention to typography and genre cover tropes.

    I have started coming across more and more covers, though, that look like they were released by the Big 5. I always get giddy when that happens, because it means authors are paying attention, listening to what works and what doesn't, and putting the investment into their product. I totally understand that not everyone has the money to put into their covers, and that they may have written great books, but I do think the covers that look self published hurt their discoverability. They have to overcome that with free and cheap reads, great marketing, and word of mouth.

    Just my opinion. :-)

    Passive Guy had an interesting post up today on discoverability and how it relates to single serve coffee.

    1. One of the reasons I went to my last small press publishers was because of the gorgeous cover art they had which caught my eye right from the start. But I agree, often a poor cover says it all.

  3. Most of the self-pubbed authors I know take great pride in their work. They use professional covers and have their books edited. I'd be the first to agree that there are a *lot* of books out there with awful home-made covers and no editing. My husband downloads free books from Smashwords regularly. If he finds something he likes, he'll buy the author's other work. But sometimes he'll share what he finds - such as the writer who thought 'drug' was the past tense of 'drag'. Or the person who thought the title "The Forests' " (that's not a typo) was fine.

    So it's a mixed bag. However, if you can't tell from the cover, the blurb or the sample - honestly, does it really matter who published it? My answer is no.

    1. I guess that was my point - if the quality is there, the publisher shouldn't matter. But I still see the mantra 'all self pubbed books are bad' and I'm wondering how long that's going to stick around. Oh, probably as long as the girl cooties in SF being a 'bad' thing.


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