Sunday, May 6, 2012

Why I Probably Won't Buy Your Self-Published Book

I have nothing against independent publishing. In fact, my two Kindles probably contain hundreds of books between them, I have many friends who self-publish, and I intend to self-publish an e-book later this year. I like saving money. I like not having to buy more bookcases.

But most of the intriguing-sounding independently published e-books I take a look at on Amazon.com  I don't buy...even when they're free. I don't want to waste my time downloading or starting to read a bad book. So I take a careful look at the e-book's page first. And I often find warning signs that a book is poorly written, poorly edited (and thus unreadable for me, although I know people who don't notice poor editing), or both.

These are the clues I use to decide whether a book is badly written or edited:
  • The title contains a misspelling or a grammar error.
  • The title is stupid or a cliché. (Word play on a cliché is okay.)
  • The descriptive paragraph contains more than two misspellings or grammar errors.
  • Most or all of the sentences in the descriptive paragraph are confusing or awkward.
  • The descriptive paragraph contains so many vague words I have no idea what the book is about.
  • The descriptive paragraph makes the book sound just like 2,000 other Tolkien take-offs.
  • The described plot contains standard-issue vampires, werewolves, fairies, or other stock fantasy characters with no apparent original twist.
  • Most of the good reviews read as if they were written by people who don't usually read books or who have never written a review before. (Family member alert!)
  • Most of the reviews are full of grammar errors, bad sentences, and misspellings, making me skeptical of the reviewers' ability to recognize a good book if they saw one.
  • The bad reviews mention poor editing or formatting.
  • The bad reviews discuss at length the lack of plot, poor plotting, paper-thin characters, unbelievable actions, or other evidence of poor writing.
Unfortunately, 80% or 90% of the e-books I'm tempted by have at least one of these flaws, and I move on.
 
Do you care about poor editing or formatting in the e-books you read? If a book is free, are you willing to read it even if the story bores or irritates you? Or are you fussy, like me, in what books you choose to purchase, download, and read?


I'm glad you stopped by my post today. I'll be blogging again on May 21. Hope to see you then!

—Shauna Roberts


8 comments:

Karen Clarke said...

Poor editing and grammar would really spoil a book for me, so I'd definitely take note of all the warning signs you mention before deciding to download.

William Doonan said...

That's an important wake up call, Shauna. With POD and self-publishing, the gatekeepers of old are gone. No more stuffy agents and editors getting between the writer and the reader, but we have new gatekeepers now - the people who carefully scrutinize Amazon pages and reviews. Interestingly enough, the new gatekeepers are just as tough. It's never before been so easy to publish a book, and never harder to sell one.

William Doonan
www.themummiesofblogspace9.com

Liane Spicer said...

This has always been my biggest problem with self-published books. I sometimes download (free) or even buy a book to support another author, but if the editing/formatting is persistently bad I can't read it.

If you're not a professional editor, your book needs editing. Even if you're a pro editor, you still need that second pair of (competent) eyes. I don't understand why so many writers don't get this and then are offended when reviewers point out these eminently fixable flaws.

G. B. Miller said...

I try not to be overly critical about some of the self-pubbed books that I've read over the years, but I do agree with all of your points about the warning signs.

Frankly, people really do need to understand that no matter how entertaining a story might be, if it has most, if not all of those problems, no one will buy it.

Not even for free.

Lynn Emery said...

I've been traditionally published and now I'm an indie author.I've learned that in eBooks, formatting errors can occur even if the original document doesn't have them. Same for scanning.

If the product description is poor I likely won't buy the indie book. The author writes those, and that's a obvious giveaway that the writing in the book will be the same.

I'll ignore formatting errors, if not numerous, because I now know that the conversion process can be tricky- which is why I hired someone instead of trying to do it myself.

I've ignored bad covers a couple of time becaues the book's blurb was so intriguing, and been rewarded! I wanted to e-mail the authors and beg them to get a new cover! Those covers might have made others assume the writing would be bad.

Lynn Emery said...

I've been traditionally published and now I'm an indie author.I've learned that in eBooks, formatting errors can occur even if the original document doesn't have them. Same for scanning.

If the product description is poor I likely won't buy the indie book. The author writes those, and that's a obvious giveaway that the writing in the book will be the same.

I'll ignore formatting errors, if not numerous, because I now know that the conversion process can be tricky- which is why I hired someone instead of trying to do it myself.

I've ignored bad covers a couple of time becaues the book's blurb was so intriguing, and been rewarded! I wanted to e-mail the authors and beg them to get a new cover! Those covers might have made others assume the writing would be bad.

Charles Gramlich said...

I do care, and It chaps me. I just can't get into a book that way, even if the plot line sounds intersting.

Tamara said...

I totally agree!! Oh man, nothing is worse than trying to read a book with bad grammar and spelling! I've read a few in the past and I end up trashing the book because I can't get into the story for seeing all the errors. I can't help it, that really hits a nerve with me.

Although, with that said, I will overlook terrible cover art or even bad formatting in a kindle version.

Unfortunately, because of several bad experiences, I don't really read many self published books.