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So is most self-published material poorly edited?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Zero Angel, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    I'd never pay for a review at any cost but for those that are considering it ... the expense is high - I think Kirkus is like $450. Printed copies with postage is about $6.50 for a 320 page book printed with Createspace that's 70 reviews (assuming you make sure that you have a high likelihood of a review as opposed to just blindly sending).

    In my whole career the only "marketing" budget I ever allocated for is review copies -it has an extremely high ROI, so I wouldn't classify it as "relatively big cost compared to other activities" - just my opinion of course.
     
  2. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    Yes, it shows third-party validation. In many respects people don't care "what" the reviews say but more that "many people have read and posted about the book. Look at a book like "Wool (Omnibus edition)" it has 1,800 reviews and a 4.8 rating. People who are "leery" about a self-published book will say..."Hey it must have been read by many more people than 1,800 and everyone seems to like it so I'll give it a try."

    Generally a book with 2 or 3 reviews is looked upon suspiciously. Once you get to 20 - 30 then they get more comfortable and will "take a risk.
     
  3. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    I did write a post on "dues and don'ts of getting reviews"

    My wife's blog also has something on this subject: Marketing 101: Reviews
     
    Zero Angel and BWFoster78 like this.
  4. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    Very true.
     
  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    How would you reccommend jumping the hurdle between blind sending and a promising chance of getting a review for a self published work?
     
  6. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    This may answer the question that I asked in your other thread.

    I'm interpreting this to mean that you would set your goal in this range and stop trying hard to get reviews when it gets to this point.
     
  7. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    I don't mean to answer for Michael, but I would suspect that a prior relationship with the reviewer (such as they've reviewed previous material you've sent them) or a query letter would be the first places to start.
     
  8. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    Wow! These are great articles. I haven't read your wife's yet (although it's my next tab to get to :p), but I read the article you wrote and the article you linked to in your article. Great articles. They say commonsense information but has most of it in one place. I really liked your idea of doing a blog spreadsheet and am starting mine right away (although I am also adding local newspapers and such).

    I am also impressed by the e-mail your wife came up with. When you send it like that does it show up as though the e-mail includes attachments or does it show up normally? I've never played around with multimedia in e-mails before...but I will now
     
  9. Whew, lot of new material since the last time I was here. Some thoughts:

    On paying for reviews: it's not just indies, of course. Example: A Macmillan imprint recently published a fiction book with the same title as an indie book by a friend of mine, so she was watching their PR carefully (because it was pinging her standard searches for her own title). She saw a multitude of examples of an account tweeting about how excited they were to finally get the book, and then ten or twenty minutes later, an account of the same name popping a five star review up on Amazon. Big six publishers are actively hiring PR agencies to do fake tweets and fake reviews, and by rough indications, they are pouring a lot of money into making it happen. Frankly, I'm still not in favor of paid reviews for any book, but let's face facts: the major publishers ARE doing this, they ARE paying a lot of money to make it happen, and indies who buy a dozen "reviews" on Fiverr or whatever are simply following what is now an industry standard practice.

    On an "indie seal of approval" system:
    Here's the main problem. The big publishers, for all their years in business and hundreds of millions in annual revenue, do not have effective brands. There are very few cases, especially in fiction, where a person asks for the latest book from a given publisher (Harlequin and maybe Baen stand out as exceptions here). Mostly, readers look for the latest book by a favorite writer, or a book by a new to them writer on a favorite subject. Publishers lack an effective brand because to be effective, a brand must be CONSISTENT. If a reader likes one book by a publisher, and can then pick up pretty much any other book that publisher puts out and like it, too, then that publisher has brand consistency. But most publishers produce books with far too great a range of topic and style to have that sort of consistency. Readers like books based on personal taste, and it's exceptionally difficult for a large publisher to retain consistency for any one taste (indeed, it is generally against their interest to do so).

    So publishers really don't have effective brands, from a resder's perspective.

    The problem with a seal of quality is the same. Suppose the seal was used on 50 Shades. Hey, it's an exceptionally well loved book. MILIONS of people have loved it so much they've gone on to read all the sequels. The movies will undoubtedly be blockbusters. But lots of people hate the books, too. So say a book like that gets stamped as OK. Everyone who dislikes the book stamped will instantly relegate that seal as useless. Obviously, it can't be any good as a real seal of approval if the seal stamped a book you hate, right? ;) What's actually happening, of course, is that the reader feels the seal is useless because it does not give them what they need: a good idea whether that book is something they will enjoy reading or not.

    ANY seal which stamps books based on quality, rather than based on taste (like, say, a book blogger does) is effectively useless to readers. It's not giving them the information they need. They don't care if a book has been proofread, if it's a book they will hate anyway.

    And of course, that's ignoring two other major issues:
    1) Writers are already in a very anti-gatekeeper mindset. Anything which smacks of trying to set up a new gatekeeper is probably going to experience an extremely negative reaction from most indie writers. For less reasonable reasons than mentioned above.
    2) How is a seal system supposed to differentiate itself from any other such system? What I mean is, if I start my own seal of approval system tomorrow and stamp my books with the "Top Indie Books Seal of Approval", how are readers going to have any clue which seals are legit and which are made up by an author to put a seal on a book? It takes enormous marketing and ad budget to reach even a small fraction of readers with an idea like this. So how would the group come up with the cash? Charge for the seal? Then you have money involved, and the entire thing is suspect.

    It's a nifty idea and all, but there are simply too many issues.

    I find that most readers are checking samples today, anyway. So they're not buying books that are really terribly written. And if they do by accident buy a terrible book, they can just return it. So frankly, the best "seal of approval" right now, in my mind, is the Amazon popularity ranking of a book. Popular books are being bought a lot. Which means a lot of people have read the sample, liked it, and bought the book. That is an effective system. It's already working pretty darned well, IMHO.
     
  10. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    Getting reviews for self-published or traditionally published is pretty much the same. There are reviewers who accept only self-published, some that won't look at self-published, and some that do both. It mostly is the same process as getting agents. In other words:

    1. Do research to make sure they handle your genre
    2. Sending a professional query to pique their attention

    I did a post for this on reddit. Here is a link to it.
     
  11. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    Yes precisely...early on your marketing effort should be on getting review copies into people's hands...once you have a good number then you can focus on driving people to your pages.
     
  12. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    Glad you like them.

    As for the emails - Depending on their settings the picture of the book may be shown or not (some people turn off images). But even without the cover - the rest of the formatting looks well.
     
    Zero Angel likes this.
  13. Weaver

    Weaver Sage

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    This is only my personal observation/experience; your mileage may vary, as the saying goes.

    The aspiring writers who most need help to improve their their stories are the ones least likely to seek out such assistance, even when it's being offered for free. (I used to spend far too much time on various peer-review sites for writers, and I had quite a reputation - mostly good - as 'that guy who proofreads everything.') It all goes back to this thing called metacognition, and the awareness of one's own competence level: In any area, people with a higher level of competence are actually likely to underestimate that competence, and thus constantly try to get better, whereas those with a low level of competence don't even know enough to know that they're not any good - they overestimate how good they are - and so won't try to improve. These are the ones who think editing is never necessary. If some writers won't take help when it's given away, they're certainly not going to take it when they have to pay $15-20 per 1000 words. And why should they? After all, they can self-publish their stories without having to go through all that time-wasting stuff, just type the thing send it on its way, and without having to worry if stodgey old publishers with a grammar fetish like it, they can get their stories out there immediately and have a million adoring fans before the end of the week...

    (Ever think about how much easier life would be if English had a punctuation mark specifically for indicating sarcasm?)

    That's my own explanation for why, although not all self-published material is poorly edited, a lot of it is.
     
  14. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    I think this goes more with self-awareness & confidence.

    It is possible that the better you get, the more you know what you lack and so want to improve it, and that those that are hopeless are so ignorant they are oblivious of the need for improvement; but I think more likely that they are over confident and even if they are aware of issues in their writing they make excuses for it, while someone who lacks confidence may seek to improve themselves no matter their skill level.

    Still, every individual is different.
     
  15. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    What I got out of this is:

    People who doubt their work are really good.

    I doubt my work.

    Therefore, I must be really good.

    Thanks!!!
     
  16. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Highly competent people are less likely to think they know it all because they're aware of how much they don't know.

    It's like going to visit San Francisco and thinking you've seen all of California. Someone who's really been around the state knows how big it is, how much more there is to see. Even though this person knows the state really well, he knows that he can't see everything.

    However, he could also have learned that by looking at a map. So don't make too much of it.
     
  17. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    To an extent, yes, Another site I go to, there is a poster who continually boasts about his great writing abilities and how he is going to make a fortune off his self published (non fiction) e-book. At times, he includes excerpts from his masterpiece in the posts to prove his points. Problem is, he cannot write, his logic is badly flawed, and he is completely oblivious to this. Point these problems out - even in a helpful way - and he responds with personal attacks. In his mind he is a scribe for the ages - period.
     
  18. This isn't a new phenomenon though. Ten years ago, folks with this attitude submitted their books to agents and publishers, and when rejected railed at the hacks who were refusing their greatness. ;)

    The only difference is that now they put up their books on Amazon where nobody ever sees them, instead of placing them into a desk drawer where nobody ever sees them. Net effect is virtually identical. People who refuse to admit they have something to learn don't learn.
     
  19. Stuart John Evison

    Stuart John Evison Minstrel

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    My own "Muddle Puddle" received its first review on itunes yesterday (apparently it is frowned on to put a link here so if anyone fancies taking a look you'll have to go via my profile). "So what," I hear the cry. The point is I know it seems to be the accepted practice to stack reviews up by paying for them but that idea makes me uncomfortable so I've drifted to just letting it happen naturally. I'm 61 years old this year, so whilst grumpy I'm not stupid, I know this means "getting it out there" will take longer but I just don't want to feel like I cheated to do it. "Slowly, slowly catchee monkey" (sorry if this is misquoted?) and as I've said before if the book is any good eventually it will be noticed and talked about. I'm a Cambridgeshire fen man, we are a patient people, even if we can't spell.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2012
  20. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    You can use Showcase to announce self-promotional things unless it comes up naturally in a thread.
     
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