Personally, even though I am a self-published author, I still have a love/hate relationship with self-publishing and, sadly, a lot of people still mistrust books that are published by authors themselves. On the one hand, I get it, I’ve read a couple of howlers and the reason the books I read didn’t work wasn’t just down to taste, it was mainly down to poor editing and okay-ish proof-reading. These are the books that give self-publishing a bad name, it’s not about the skill/style of the author, I don’t like every traditional book that’s been published (I recently had to give up on To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf), but if you’re asking people to buy something off you, you’re promising them you’ve made it ready for them to read. If it isn’t properly edited you are not delivering on that promise and you are damaging the way self-published books are perceived. This is why a lot of reviewers refuse to accept self-pub books, making it very difficult to market effectively.
The other side of self-publishing I loathe and continually moan about is the formatting for print (*shakes fist at the sky*). I’d allow the neighbourhood cats free reign of my veg garden if I could have someone take that burden off me (for free, obvs). Then there’s the cost, and boy does it cost to do things properly but I would loathe to put out a book that was anything but produced to the highest standard. My editor was brilliant, my proofreader exceptional, my cover designer magnificent. (My proofreader is so good that I just want her to proof everything I write; tweets, texts, this blog post, but I’m not rich so…) One reviewer, another self-pub author, even noted how well constructed it was: “Congrats to your copy editors. A very clean manuscript!”. That’s because I found the right people, I cannot stress how important that is. You do yourself, and the huge industry of self-pub authors, a disservice by releasing poor material. I know this will be seen as harsh by some but I think this is an incredibly important factor for self-published authors to be taken seriously.
Even now, when I think about joining another self-pub review group I feel a little bit of dread, not only because there’s a strong chance you’ll read a book that needs another edit, but because you then have to review another author’s work and be honest about it. I deeply offended someone with a review recently and I admit, I didn’t hold back, but their work really needed editing and for every book that I read that is in that condition I get angry on behalf of all the authors who are producing great books and deserve a fair shot and some recognition.
So, to help you out, here are two brilliant self-pub books:
The Speaker for The Trees by Sean DeLauder – it’s weird and not for everyone but I loved it. You can read my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1582233247?book_show_action=false
The Onyx Vial by Alexis Lampley – I haven’t reviewed this but it’s a great YA read.
And, of course, the inimitable Belinda Blinked of My Dad Wrote a Porno fame, which is a perfect and hilarious example of a book that has been published without being edited, or seemingly read-through, once.
What I’ve loved about self-publishing is that I was able to release my book out into the wild and I’m thankful that I’ve been able to do that. It’s hard work and a little scary but it’s been worth every penny and every fear to now be able to see it in print. When you write all you want is for people to read your story and I’m so glad that I decided to do it myself, despite the difficulties. And yes, I would recommend it. Just use an editor, okay?