Friday, February 20, 2015

Do you read a self-published book like a self-published book?

Self-published books have certainly gained a much greater acceptance in the literary landscape than even three years ago. If the cover design for a self-published book is professional looking, and the book has received the scrutiny it deserves for grammar and punctuation, then why shouldn't it? But I'm wondering how many people pass through the pages with a bit more skepticism and trepidation. Do readers constantly remind themselves that the book is not coming from a major publisher and a well-known author, or are they fine with that?

One problem I've noticed in the past is having friends and family read my writing. Some of them have a hard time separating me from my work. They hear my voice throughout the pages, instead of their own internal voice and the voices of the characters. Some are amazed that I would reveal so much, even if it's all made up. I remember one of them, a local bartender, was shocked that I wrote a horror story collection, yet she had no problem running on home for a Walking Dead marathon. Her response was, "Yeah, but I don't have to sit next to the writers." She was taken aback by my funny, sinister laugh every time I told her about offing a new character.

I recently finished reading two of Stephen King's short story collections.  And as much as I wanted to like them, to truly enjoy them, most of the stories ended.....just...ended....with no real payoff.  Then I went back to a few of my own shorts and thought I had done a better job. And that rarely happens. Authors are more critical of their own work than anyone else's. And then I wondered what would happen if I slapped my name on a story by Stephen King, and his on one of mine. My initial reaction is that people would find nothing wrong with the Stephen King version of me, but would set out looking for problems with his story with my name on it. Who is this new author? I don't know him. He can't be good. Wouldn't it be funny if they responded, "You're no Stephen King," while reading the piece by Stephen King?

Of course, I've read plenty of reviews where readers trash a popular author, even if they had praised that author in the past. Those "He really went downhill with his new book" responses. You see them all the time. But I wonder how many of those readers approach a self-published book a bit more harshly. Or do they give it a fair shake? Do they need the media buzz to convince them that they may be reading, in fact, a brilliant piece by an undiscovered author?

I'd love to know what you think in the comments section below.

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1 comment :

  1. I think you are correct. Given so many competing demands on our time, when we seek entertainment, we want an escape. If flaws are blatant, there is no escape, and thus no entertainment. If the writer is too familiar, again, the escape factor is missing. Books are like movies. Viewers are reluctant to spend time and money on an unknown. They only jump on board when the media is talking favorably about it.