Self-publishing is killing self-publishing

Self-publishing. It’s being ruined by the very people who should be supporting it and doing everything in their power to make it great. I’m talking about all the self-published authors who are happy to release books littered with bad grammar, poor punctuation, clichés, repetition, clunky sentences and a total lack of any sign that proofreading or editing has taken place.

Their books get slammed by reviewers on Amazon, Goodreads, etc., and the widespread negativity towards all self-published books, not just the legitimately bad ones, grows exponentially.

Nobody ever posts a review on Amazon to compliment an author on good spelling or punctuation because those things are expected, and should be taken for granted by a reader. Because of that, those things should be prioritised by self-published authors, not forgotten or ignored.

No reader wants to have to struggle with interpreting the meaning of a sentence because it is poorly written. Just think about that for a few seconds. Now go pick a self-published book at random on Amazon and check out the ‘Look Inside’ sample. If that sample is a load of unedited garbage, the whole book is guaranteed to be.

No reader wants their immersion in a book to be derailed by bad punctuation, missing words (or duplicated words), and the countless other mistakes that too many self-published authors don’t even bother trying to correct before rushing their novel out into the world.

The attitude is obvious: they have written their book and they want it published NOW. It took them six months, or six years, or a whole weekend to write, so they believe that they have done all the hard work and now they want the reward to which they are entitled: they want to see their book published and for sale.

If you venture onto a Facebook author group or some other  forum where self-published authors congregate to help each other decide which badly Photoshopped cover to use, or which stilted, purple-prose blurb to choose, you must never, ever tell any of them that the books they have published need a bit of editing as they’re not in a fit state to have been published. Try this, and you will be either ignored or lambasted as some kind of fascist killjoy who lives only to belittle the stalwart efforts of the self-published community.

Sorry, but every unedited, mistake-laden self-published book that gets released contributes to the growing negative attitude of readers to self-published books. That’s a fact. I don’t care if it’s not a popular fact, it’s still a fact. There are lots of potential readers out there who will never go near one of my self-published books because they have already suffered too much at the hands of impatient self-published authors who were only interested in writing something and publishing it, and not at all interested in writing something, checking it, asking one or two other people to check it, and doing everything they could possibly do to make it the best that it could be.

It’s your book. You wrote it. You have to care about it being genuinely ready for publication, because nobody else will.

I’m not talking about boring stories, copy-paste characters, illogical plots, or sub-literate rambling bollocks masquerading as science fiction. I’m talking about actually caring about the quality of your finished product at a fundamental level. Because a hell of a lot of you clearly don’t care, and don’t want to hear about it from your peers.

“I sell plenty of books,” is one of their standard, brush-off replies when told that their books need to be proofread and edited before publication. Yes, I’m sure you do sell books. But then the people who bought your books will read them, see that you can’t even string a coherent sentence together, or understand the basics of punctuation, and the self-publishing negativity grows a little bit more.

I probably put more effort into checking and editing this rant than a lot of self-published authors put into editing and proofreading their own books.

I certainly put a hell of a lot more effort into editing and proofreading my own books.

And yet, some mistakes do slip through. I accept that, and I’m more than happy to not only admit it, but to applaud and thank anyone who spots something wrong in one of my books and lets me know about it. If I missed it, and my test-readers missed it, then whoever finds these mistakes deserves that applause and thanks.

If you’re a self-published author and you put as much effort, or more, into editing as you put into writing your books, then you have my gratitude and my congratulations. All you need to worry about are the same things I’m ranting about in this post.

If you’re a self-published author, and you read this post and thought ,”Ah, screw him, he thinks he’s some sort of grand-master punctuation expert who can lecture me on how I write…” I think we all know what I think of you and your rushed, ill-considered publications.

Have a great day. Do some editing. It won’t kill you.

Crime novel blog part 11 – Cold Inside gets a rave review

The first review of Cold Inside has been published by Stuart Carter on his (mostly science fiction book reviews) blog.

Here is the link to the review.

Some of my favourite quotes from the review are:

One of the things that helped me warm to Cold Inside the most was the fact that Dan Blacksmith isn’t a “maverick” cop; he’s a good, smart, mostly by-the-book policeman, doing his job exactly as you might hope he would if there was a serial killer on the loose in your town.

This science fiction reader was fascinated to discover how interesting and enthralling a crime thriller can be; my only fear now is that I’ve been spoiled by beginning with such a top-notch example of the genre.

“Cold Inside is a tight thriller with a slight period flavour – and no help at all for insomniacs!

Thanks to Stuart for reading and reviewing Cold Inside.

Crime novel blog part 10 – people are reading Cold Inside

People are finding, and reading, Cold Inside, in spite of everything I’ve done with this one to buck the tedious trends of popular crime novels, and by that I mean I’ve deliberately not included any of the following:

  • A first-person viewpoint that shifts between characters in each chapter, optionally where the chapter is named to show exactly which character is narrating that part
  • An unreliable narrator (drunk, insane, just plain stupid, etc.)
  • A rabidly militant protagonist cop, railing against authority for no apparent reason
  • A protagonist with relationship issues, seemingly only to make the character ‘interesting’
  • A book title suffixed on Amazon with ‘a gripping thriller with a twist you won’t see coming’
  • A twist that leaves most readers feeling cheated and/or deliberately misled (see unreliable narrator)
  • A male protagonist who beats up a bunch of people and ends up in bed with pretty much everyone else (not that I have anything against Jack Reacher)

I like visual statistics such as this ‘KU pages read graph’ below, because they suggest that someone read Cold Inside in two sittings. Tell me you enjoyed it. Better still, post a review on Amazon – please!

Crime novel blog part 9 – Cold Inside published for Kindle

Cold Inside is now available on the Amazon Kindle store. Links for Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk pages are below. If you’re in a different region, you can find the book by searching Amazon for the unique Amazon reference code B0768HNCF4.

You can get all the details about this book, and the Amazon links (also included below), on the Cold Inside page on this site.Cold Inside

  

If you are interested in finding out even more about this book, please get in touch via the contact page on this site. The same goes for anyone who fancies an advance review copy, or just wants a free copy of the finished version.

Free books – special offer

To celebrate the launch of my new sixth novel, Cold Inside, I will be offering the two novels from my vampire series – Blood:Lust – free for a limited time.

The books are Midnight Cocktail and Cheating Sunrise.

Both those books will be free for five days – Monday 4th December to Friday 8th December.

Grab ’em while they’re free, have a blast reading them, and do me a massive favour by leaving a review on Amazon.

Links to the books on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk are on their website pages which are linked above. Or click the cover images below to go to their pages on this site.

  

Crime novel blog part 8 – pre-order price drop

I’ve dropped the price of the Kindle version of Cold Inside from £3.49 to £1.99. If you have already pre-ordered (and, yes, some people actually have), you will pay the newer, lower price when your copy is sent to your device(s) on release day – 01 Dec 2017.

Why have I done this? Well, because this isn’t currently about money, it’s about getting readers.

You can get all the details about this book, and the Amazon links, on the Cold Inside page on this site. The Amazon links are also included in this blog post underneath the really rather cool cover that you can see right here…

Cold Inside

  

If you are interested in finding out even more about this book, please get in touch via the contact page on this site. The same goes for anyone who fancies an advance review copy, or just wants a free copy of the finished version.

Crime novel blog part 7 – available for pre-order

In some ways, it’s disappointing that I can’t be announcing that Cold Inside has been accepted by a literary agent. However, as I always love to look on the positive side – ask anyone, they’ll tell you I’m the most positive, cheerful, never-grumpy-at-all person they ever met * – I’ll take the personal satisfaction of being able to say I have just made my sixth novel available for pre-order on the Amazon Kindle store.

You can get all the details about this book, and the Amazon links, on the Cold Inside page on this site. The Amazon links are also included in this blog post underneath the really rather cool cover that you can see right here…

Cold Inside

  

If you are interested in finding out even more about this book, please get in touch via the contact page on this site. The same goes for anyone who fancies an advance review copy, or just wants a free copy of the finished version.

 

* That’s obviously a complete fabrication.

Crime novel blog part 5

My first proper crime novel, where ‘proper’ means there are no vampires in it, is ready for publication. A lot of proof-reading, re-reading and editing has been done over the last few months. Four test-readers have passed the book as not only fit-for-human-consumption but also “unputdownable”, “brilliant”, and “Entertaining all the way through”. There was also this comment in a rejection letter from a literary agent that I particularly liked, and have already mentioned at length in this blog: “cracking pace, plenty of tension, with credible characters and dialogue”.

The downside, because there’s always a damn downside with everything, is that after a heck of a lot of rejection letters from literary agents it’s starting to seem inevitable that I’m going to have to self-publish this book, and I already know what that’s likely to mean after self-publishing my first five novels: single-figure sales and a total lack of reviews anywhere, even on Amazon where the seething masses seem to want to spout their opinion on pretty much everything. Except any of my books.

I don’t want to announce the title yet, because it’s a pretty good title and there isn’t another novel (at least on Amazon) with a similar name.

If you are interested in finding out some more about this book, please get in touch via the contact page on this site. The same goes for anyone who fancies being an advance copy reader, or just wants a free copy as soon as it is available.

My favourite rejection so far

This is part of the crime novel blog series, but it’s also the pioneer of some kind of masochistic sub-category or soul-baring splinter group. I’m regularly receiving rejection emails for my new crime novel, pretty much as expected because that’s how the world of an unknown author works, and the first [enter a number of your choice here] rejections I received were all drawn from the same generic “Thanks but no thanks” brush-off pool.

Then this one turned up today and I thought it was worth mentioning for several reasons. First, it’s personalised rather than being just another copy/paste “there’s the door” rejection. Secondly, it is incredibly positive, despite being what it is – a rejection. And finally, the reason cited for rejecting my work is not any kind of a criticism of my work. Have a read, see what you think. I’m expecting you’re going to want to read my book, but I could be wrong.

This is the main content of the rejection email, completely unedited:

Your opening chapters are very well done: cracking pace, plenty of tension, with credible characters and dialogue. But – I’m afraid there is a “but” – it’s so hard to sell new fiction in the current harsh climate, even well-written crime fiction like yours, that I just don’t think we’d succeed in persuading cautious editors to take you on.

Seriously, that’s far from bad. I’m not personally aware of this “current harsh climate” but I’m guessing that’s because I’m an unknown author with no real understanding of how there are dozens of new crime novels every time I look on a bestseller shelf in any book shop or supermarket, or Amazon.

From that rejection email, it seems to me that the problem here is “cautious editors”. I’m thinking that my book needs an editor who isn’t a timid mouse. Might that be you, or someone you know? If so, you know what you need to do.

If you are interested in finding out some more about this book, please get in touch via the contact page on this site. The same goes for anyone who fancies being a test reader, or just wants a free copy as soon as it is available.