I think anyone who's been hanging around here a while has realised that a lot of self-published stuff is junk. Every time I browse Amazon, for each self-published work I come across with a ranking and a few reviews I see dozens more that were uploaded like a year ago that seem to have no activity on them whatever, no connected author page, no other works by the same author, etc. A lot of them have rubbish covers and boring, often-poorly written blurbs.
I wonder how many people put stuff that probably isn't ready up, fail to sell any copies, don't do any promo and then just give up and go on to something else in their lives? I'm thinking it's quite a lot.
For me, personally, I'm in it for the long haul. I've been writing more than twenty years and I'll do whatever it takes to at least get vaguely successful.
I think a lot of people expected to slap a story together, publish it, then become overnight sensations. I don't think many people realized exactly how much it takes to publish a successful novel, or series, me included. Some just give up on the whole idea, some lose confidence, others never had no real intention to follow through. But those who are truly here to follow their dreams will never leave.
I believe you're right!
The amount of people whom once I've told what I do, say "Oh I could do that easy!", or "I've written a real good story!" or even "I've got a story that will make millions!" is astounding.
It seems most of those that then follow that through do honestly think, all they have to do is put it on Amazon and they will become an overnight success.
The person who said it takes just as much time marketing your books as it does writing them, got it right!
If this is treated as a sideline, that's where it'll stay.
I've been here 6 months and have 7 books on and I'm just getting that I can rely on a good check each month that now is bebinning to feel like it makes a difference. Fantastic!
So, I'm in for the longhaul too.
Usually from the cover. Of course some look professional, but even a lot of good ones just have something about them that makes them look home-made. I think my covers are awesome, but they don't look professional. And if not from the cover, usually you can just look at the book details where it lists the publisher.
A self-publisher can list a publisher as well. You can easily set up a DBA, and technically establish your own publishing company. You can also pay for a professional cover and editing. As writers, we are familiar with the publishing industry, therefore, we recognize the subtle differences. The typical reader doesn't generally know a self-published book from a traditional published book. As far as descriptions and blurbs, I've noticed a large number of traditional books with horrible descriptions and blurbs. Instead, many have long lists of reviews -you can't find the blurb among all of the chatter.
That being said -I'm certain there are a large number of people who put something up and never come back.
While I'd agree that self-pubs should make their book as "professional" as possible in respects of editing, formatting, etc, I don't necessarily think it's a good idea to try and hide the fact that you're indie.
I'm happy for my titles to scream "homemade."
When I shop, particularly for fiction, I'm looking for an originality and creativity I think I'm unlikely to find in big six commercial titles (and I'm happy to sacrifice a little quality in return for the ideas I hope those books will spark in me).
To me, it's the same as buying handicrafts from Etsy instead of plastic baubles made in China from a chain store.
I know not all readers think like that, and in no way am I saying that if you're the author it's OK to lower your standards, but for my personal reading tastes, I'm bored with bland commercial "play it safe" plot lines.
This is true, I guess as a writer its easy to spot. I've been in a bunch of short story magazines and one that showed up in the mail the other day looked totally professional, bound and glossy, so it would have been impossible for a reader to know I was only paid something like $5, and the whole circulation was probably about thirty copies. Same with indie books, I guess. If you don't know what to look for you might not know. I'm not saying indie authors are substandard - I think its likely that there are many of the calibre of JK Rowling etc out there who just didn't get that break - but that a lot probably just publish something as a once off, something that might otherwise have stayed in the drawer. My old man had a notebook full of stories that I used to read when I was a kid, and he never sent them anywhere, even though some of them were pretty good. I also have a bunch of friends with "a story" or "a book" but no drive to try to sell or market it. Some of them aren't even that bothered, while others talk about it being a best seller, while the story itself waits on the hard drive.
This is also true. I just want my covers to look cool, because I know my stories and novels are, and if the readers can get to them they will judge.
For me, though, I don't actively search or avoid anything. I don't even know who this supposed "big six" are, nor really care. I've read loads of books from trad publishing houses that were interesting so I'm not quite sure what "bland plot lines" you mean. However, I think it's harder to break into the industry these days, unless you follow certain conventions, write in certain genres or are a C-list celebrity. The buzz genre at the moment seems to be "paranormal/vampire romance", something that fills me with dread and just screams "Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off". The only good books about vampires that I ever read were Drawing Blood and Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite, a fine, fine writer. I got forced to sit through Twilight at the cinema once and I almost put my eyes out.
OK, recent example for me, I was so looking forward to the new Philippa Gregory Plantagenet series (Red Queen, White Queen). I've always thought the Plantagenets were at least as interesting as the Tudors - Princes in the tower, Cecilly Neville and her indiscretion with the archer etc.
When I finally picked them up, I just couldn't get into them. I'd not long finished Elise Marion's The Third Son, and in comparison Gregory seemed formulaic and bland, even though it was a subject I was really interested in. It felt like her motivation was, "What can I churn out next to bring in the bucks."
Maybe it's just a change of mindset on my part, seeing as I'm now self published. Maybe I'm guilty of selective perception, because I'm sure there are thousands of readers out there who loved those books.
I'm not suggesting to be any sort of expert on the market, only talking about my personal experience, and there are still traditionally published authors I love - Alexander McCall Smith for one. Plus I still reread all the old classics - Dickens, Jane Austin, the Brontes and many of the classic sci-fi authors.
It's just more and more these days I'm finding gems among the self-pub stuff, and not finding what I'm looking for with traditionally published books.