An Unintentional Rant – ePublishing*

Free Kindle books tend to make me cringe.

Which is sad, because the ability for authors to self-publish on the Kindle completely changes the way that self-publishing works anymore. It used to be that self-publishing was so expensive, that you had to already have loads of money or an incredibly self-sacrificing nature to promote and sell your own book, not to mention get the printing, shipping, etc. taken care of. Now, all you need do is write your book, format it for the Kindle (a .mobi file, essentially, except it’s often labeled as an .azw, although both are compatible with the Kindle), put it on the Amazon marketplace, and then post in the forums with something like, “Hey! Look at my book!” As long as you’ve got some business savvy and you’re willing to shell out a bit to promote it elsewhere, or you’ve got a particularly loyal Internet following, you may very well have it made.

I’m also very grateful to people who give their books to us for free. With publishing companies still getting their panties in a bunch about how much ebooks should cost, sometimes you’re still paying as much for a book as you would if you’d pulled a physical copy off the shelf at your local bookstore.** The people who let us download and read their books without paying a cent aren’t making any money off of their work. It’s free advertising, but the kind of free that is painful.

The sad part is that there are people out there who ruin self e-publishing for everyone involved. These are the people who don’t check spelling, grammar, and punctuation. These are the people who can’t format their manuscripts properly for the Kindle. That’s the worst.

Then there are the people who are just crap writers, and that makes me cringe the most. Or the people who could have used a couple of revisions before putting their work out there, and clearly just finished the first draft and then threw it onto Amazon while still in that euphoria of “I finished it! I finished it!” Writing a novel or a short story or a poem is a craft, it’s not like throwing a bag of popcorn into the microwave and hitting the ‘popcorn’ button.

Take this book I’m reading, for example: The Paradise War. It started out slow – soooo slow – and it wasn’t until 35% or 40% of the way through the book that the plot actually started to pick up. Then, 10 or 15 pages later, we have a completely different story. What this author could have benefited from was a break from the book and a couple of revisions – then he would have realized that he needed to clean up the beginning of his story. The middle, the part I’m reading now, is beautiful – but it feels like a completely different novel from what we started with. The character doesn’t even feel the same.

It’s not a bad book. In fact, as far as free ebooks go, it’s not that bad. But then there was the train wreck that was Sixty-One Nails, where I literally wanted to beat my head against the wall every couple of pages or so. The writing is… mediocre, after a point, and the formatting, spelling, punctuation makes me want to cry. The author seemed to have no pride in his finished product, and instead just couldn’t wait until he could get it out there and tell someone, “Hey look at me! I’m published!”

I was originally excited about all the urban fantasy that was out there on Amazon for free, but then I found out – painfully quickly – that a free Kindle ebook that is not in the public domain is probably crap.

Where is the pride in producing a piece of literature anymore? Even if it’s genre fiction, it’s still literature, and now that you’ve put it on the internet, it’s going to be there forever. That mark of your laziness, your lack of work ethic, your inability to take yourself seriously as a writer and actually revise your work – that’s going to be there for as long as cyberspace exists. It is never going away.

Why would someone settle for that?


* I actually started writing this with the intention of talking about my experience so far with Stephen R. Lawhead‘s The Paradise War, which is a free Kindle ebook, but it kind of degenerated into me bitching about people who don’t know and/or care what they’re doing.

** I’m of the opinion ebooks should have two or three dollars lopped off the price of a hard copy. With a physical book, you’re paying for (1) the material, (2) the story, and (3) the labors of the editors and publishers. Since most books cost between $8 or $13** for a paperback, it stands to reason that a third of the price should be cut, since the publishers are no longer spending money on printing.

*** And don’t even get me started on those $13 paperbacks, the trade paperbacks. I make it a point to try and only buy mass market paperbacks, because the bigger size is just another ploy to try and make more money off of the same shit. $20 for a hardcover book is one thing, because you’re paying for longevity and better quality binding, but I kind of rage silently when I see a paperback book for sale for $17.

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About Kayla Rose

Leave me alone, let me drink my tea and write my snark.

Posted on June 24, 2011, in Not Writing, Reading and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Heh. Yes well, now you’ve gone and made me quite nervous. I have an aunt who can make my book into an Amazon/e-book/Kindle thingy. Yes, I wish to do it the proper way by sending in a request to a publishing company and getting rejected, but I also would like exposure to my completed story. I think that’s what most writers want, when they excitedly publish shit on the internet. Fictionpress is spammed with shit. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth. I even have some crap stories on my profile. However, with the rough draft straight after finishing, I put my rough draft of my novel up on Fictionpress so that I can get reviewers and feedback and then redo it when I’m confident in the opinions I get. I don’t plan on doing it with an e-book anytime. You are quite right, I totally agree with you. 🙂 I know it’s weird, having a complete stranger start blabbing on your blog, but at least it means YOU are getting exposure to your own work as well! 😀 That’s a good thing, right? Yes. I’ll never stalk you, I promise.

    • Fictionpress, I feel, is a bit different from publishing on Amazon – the whole purpose of Fictionpress is review and critique, and I think the people using it have kind of gotten away from it. I finally stopped posting things I cared about there because I was tired of getting so many “ohmygod your main character totally kicks ass I can’t wait for the next chapter” reviews and not enough “this is what you did that I liked, here’s where there were problems, here’s some solutions I suggest.”

      As far as publishing goes, you can go the route I intend – write some short fiction, compile it and put it on Amazon, to get your name out there. Then find an agent – I highly suggest this – to represent you to the publishing houses.

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