I’m a self-published (i.e. “indie”) author, and I’ll be the first to say it: a lot of self-published books really suck.  I mean really.  They’re horrible – filled with typos, grammatical errors, poor storytelling, bad research, and so on. That’s the biggest problem with how easy it is to publish your own book now – these suckfests bring down the name of self-publishing and tarnish anything with “self-published” immediately as being suspect.

Of course, there also some “officially” published books that also suck.  But they are much fewer and far between – and generally don’t ever come from the major print houses.  Yes, there may be some bad storytelling here and there, but for the most part they’ve been groomed pretty heavily by quite a lot of very talented people – and this is one of the biggest things the major houses have going for them.

But here’s the thing – where a book is published really is not what determines its quality.  What matters most is that any author planning on releasing their work take it completely seriously. If one plans on going the indie route and publishing on their own, then he or she needs to also realize that they are at a disadvantage.  There is no big team of people working on your project – although all the functions of those teams at major publishing houses serve very important purposes.  So, it’s up to the self-published author to make sure those jobs are still taken care of.

This is where the sucky self-published books start to appear.  A lot of the time these books have not had a trained eye edit them and will often only have been looked over by the writer (if the writer even bothered to look at it after writing). Even then, is the writer any good in the first place?  Should he really be putting this work out there?

It’s one thing to publish something because you want it in print, but when sucky self-published books get out there in front of potential readers they just make more muck for potential readers to muddle through.  If you’re going to self-publish, make sure to do everything in your power (including asking other people for help) to ensure that your finished product is not a waste of people’s time.  Otherwise you’re doing a disservice to readers and the rest of the self-published authors who take the indie movement seriously.

A Lot of Self-Published Books Really Suck
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4 thoughts on “A Lot of Self-Published Books Really Suck

  • May 15, 2009 at 6:49 am

    So true – I have a secret society of non-sucky self-published authors. If you want to learn the secret handshake and codeword, let me know.

  • May 15, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Excellent point, William. Fortunately, it looks like there are a group of self-published authors who get what you are saying and are taking your advice to heart.

    Readers are savvy and smart. They know how to wade through the bad to find the good. And when they find the good, they will reward the reader by spreading the news of his or her book. And when they find the bad, well, they will also spread the news.

  • November 5, 2009 at 6:00 am

    I really liked your posting about this, and I’ve seen a few more like it recently – the best part about yours is, it’s very informative and useful and full of good information without a bunch of usless rants and BS!

    I’ll be sure to give this URL to some friends

    Thanks Again

  • January 25, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    “They know how to wade through the bad to find the good.”

    No, they don’t. Readers retreat to the familiar when overwhelmed by screens full of unvetted crap. All that the selfies are doing is sending readers away from reading altogether, or back to the four or five writers they already read. Self “publishing” makes it nearly impossible for legitimately innovative work — that has been professionally vetted and edited — to be visible above the endless pile of manure.
    [O]observers like Chris Anderson (in “The Long Tail”) and social scientists like Sheena Iyengar (in her new book “The Art of Choosing”) have pointed out, when confronted with an overwhelming array of choices, most people do not graze more widely. Instead, if they aren’t utterly paralyzed by the prospect, their decisions become even more conservative, zeroing in on what everyone else is buying and grabbing for recognizable brands because making a fully informed decision is just too difficult and time-consuming. As a result, introducing massive amounts of consumer choice leads to situations in which the 10 most popular items command the vast majority of the market share, while thousands of lesser alternatives must divide the leftovers into many tiny portions. This has been going on in the book world for at least a couple of decades now, since long before the rise of e-books: Bestselling authors continue to sell better and better, while everyone else does worse and worse.

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