Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The First One In...

About year-and-a-half ago, after all the buzz surrounding Amanda Hocking and the changing way readers and publishers were looking at self-published books, authors began taking the leap one by one.

Some of them surveyed the murky Amazonian waters- full of anacondas and piranhas, and took note of everything they’d need to stay afloat. Then they jumped in and splashed gleefully around before yelling back to the others: ‘Come on in! The water’s fine!

And so they did – Authors tumbling one after another- some after careful consideration and others with a crazed, reckless abandon- arms flailing and eyes going googley (although I imagine many of the latter got swept away by a flying, open-mouthed anaconda à la  'Deep Blue Sea' before their feet even left the ground) into the hazy water until the whole thing seemed a little crowded.

But it’s not enough to have more and more authors splashing around in the Amazon– scaring off snakes and sharp-toothed animals so they only pray on the weak or those who stray too far from the pack.

Without readers, there is no pool.

And while authors took a chance jumping in, so did the readers who decided they would give self-published books a shot. And it took more than one girl making millions off her self-published titles. Not everyone likes urban fantasy or paranormal.

The success of self-publishing is pushed forward by those who take the same time and care with their product that any traditional publisher would have. And, of course, write an awesome story. All it takes is one self-published book to change the way readers view them, good or bad. A poorly-executed book might not stop them from reading others, but it might change the price they’re willing to pay –just like a book whose prose and book cover gleam might convince them to make exceptions.

I count myself lucky that the first self-published book I ever ordered and read on my kindle was Susan Kaye Quinn’s OPEN MINDS – a story about a world where everyone can share thoughts telepathically and those who can’t are looked upon with fear and distain.

When I finished reading this book, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t traditionally published. It wasn’t just one of the best-executed ‘indie’ books I’d ever read. It was one of the best YA books, in general, that I read last year and it completely changed the way I saw self-publishing.

Today, the second installment of the Mindjack Trilogy, CLOSED HEARTS is being released and I can’t wait to read it!

Eight months ago, Kira Moore revealed to the mindreading world that mindjackers like herself were hidden in their midst. Now she wonders if telling the truth was the right choice after all. As wild rumors spread, a powerful anti-jacker politician capitalizes on mindreaders’ fears and strips jackers of their rights. While some jackers flee to Jackertown—a slum rife with jackworkers who trade mind control favors for cash—Kira and her family hide from the readers who fear her and jackers who hate her. But when a jacker Clan member makes Kira’s boyfriend Raf collapse in her arms, Kira is forced to save the people she loves by facing the thing she fears most: FBI agent Kestrel and his experimental torture chamber for jackers.


Congrats Susan! -  and THANK YOU for the time and care you’ve taken with your story and your books.  Not only have you done them justice, but you’ve made a difference in my (own, personal) view of all that is possible.

What was the first self-published book you ever read and how did it affect your view of that avenue?

33 comments:

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I used to write reviews for a website that specialized in self-published books. A few of them were really good. Sadly most of them were not. Many of them read like first drafts. They had potential, but they weren't ready.

Susan's books are well-crafted. So are many others, including February Grace's Godspeed and books by Lindsay Buroker.

But there are still a lot of "first draft" books being churned out on Amazon, which makes it really tricky for the reader. And I'm admitting this as a person who once self-published a book that needed a serious reduction in word count, except I didn't know any better. It took an editor to point that out to me.

Lorelei said...

I can't remember what self-pub-ed book I read, but I did self-publish a book (not by myself, but through a company which I paid for the service).

I did make my $ back. But after that first 6 months, there was no sales. I over bought my own book, too.

I would have to say that there are some terribly written self-pubed books out there, and some great ones (I'm hosting an author now who tried the agent thing, and giving up she went indie, she is also a fantastic writer!)

At the moment, my third book is with my publisher (I can't get over that I can say that!)

As for my first book, I plan on taking a shot at putting into ebook form and going for it. It's not making money anyway, so I might as well see what it will do in my hands.

It's wonderful that you found a worthy author out there. It just goes to show that they do exist even though the traditional publishers/agents wouldn't touch her!

Great post, Katie!

Laura Marcella said...

I haven't read a self-published fiction book yet. I don't want an e-reader and my computer is too old to download an e-reader app. But I bought the minimalist/decluttering book The Joy of Less by Francine Jay and had no idea it was self-published until after I read it and checked out Francine's website. It's wonderful to see writers take such great care and time making their self-published books just as professional-looking as a big publisher would!

Em-Musing said...

Great topic. I bought a book on the boardwalk of Venice Beach 5 years ago. Haven't read it yet. I keep reading the books published traditionally. Maybe I'm a book snob?

Matthew MacNish said...

The first self-pubbed book I read was The Black God's War, by Moses Siregar, and it was very good. I haven't gotten around to reading Susan's books yet, but I know her well enough to know they're probably awesome. Plus, you already said they were, and I trust you. So I need to get around to it.

Lisa Shafer said...

I read Cinder by Michelle Davidson Argyle. It changed my mind about self-publishing and gave me the courage to do it myself!
(So feel free to try my book! :) )

I also really liked Gears of Wonderland, but my brain is fuzzy and I can't think of the fellow's name right now.

Elizabeth Reinhardt said...

My first self-pubbed read was Jamie McGuire's *Beautiful Disaster*. WOW!! Great storytelling, fantastic characters...and bold. Brave. Themes and situations and ages that I had never found combined in traditional books. It prompted me to self-pub, and my series has done well. I am living very comfortably off of my writing, the reviews I've gotten have been overwhelmingly positive, and I'm working on improving my writing and pushing my creative limits. I find self-pubbed books to be as varied as traditional...I've been sorely disappointed and swept off my feet by both.

For me, the best self-pubs have a freed, passionate feel to them that's hard to define. It's very similar to the way I felt when I heard the first grunge album as a middle school kid. Lots of power, lots of raw emotion, lots of rule bending and breaking and pushing that was exciting and crazy and felt revolutionary.

I self-pub because the themes and ideas I wanted to tackle weren't palatable to the traditional industry during my query process. Now, I honestly wouldn't change my course if the opportunity to do so presented itself. The huge financial gain, the artistic freedom, the ability to plot my own course, and the fantastic network of editors, artists, readers, and friends are all things I value highly.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've only read four self published books so far. Okay, technically I've only read two. The other two I beta read a long time before they were published (Open Minds was one of them). I've only bought self-published books from my friends.

My TBR pile and list are already out of control with traditionally published books. I have to hear amazing things about a self pub book before I risk buying it. But that's not much different to traditional books (and even then that's no guarantee I'm going to like them).

I have to get my copy of Open Minds back from my friend so that I can re-read it before I read Closed Hearts. I haven't read OM in well over a year, and Susan told me it has changed a lot since then. I wanted to wait until the sequel came out. :D

Candilynn Fite said...

Yes, congrats, Susan. :))) Great post, Katie!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@Dianne *waves!!!*

@Lorelei Best of luck with your books (both indie and trad-pub)!

@Laura I'm glad you've found that indie writers can produce quality work! I often get comments about the books being comparable to traditionally published ones, which is good - that's what I intended!

@Em-Musing I hope you'll give Open Minds a try - I just might "change your mind"! :)

@Matthew I've heard great things about Moses' book! I need to read that!!

@Lisa Michelle Davidson Argyle is one of my heroes. :)

@Elizabeth I will have to add Beautiful Disaster to my TBR! And I couldn't agree more about the boldness and bravery of self-pub that I'm seeing - I love your analogy!! And clearly I need to check out your books as well. :)

@Stina *waves!!* You definitely should read the FINAL version of Open Minds before diving into Closed Hearts. :)

@Katie Thank you for your lovely, sweet post! It really touched my heart. :)

jaybird said...

Wish I had a dollar for every time someone asks me why I'm waffling back and forth between self-pubbing and waiting on traditional. They think it's so simple, that everyone should just jump in and self-publish their books. Trying to explain this to people not privy to the ins and outs of this business, is exhausting..

As usual, great post Katie!

SA Larsenッ said...

Fabulous opening to this post! There must be a pool, and I believe the pool will just grow larger as more and more writers take care of their work and leap in too. ;D

D. Rhodes said...

hmmm. i think the first one is likely to be Open Minds! sounds really interesting.

elizabeth seckman said...

The first self pubbed I ever read was about a hope chest (can't remember the name of the book!) It was so well written I was enthralled...then at the end it fell flat. Nothing in the trunk, no wrap up...just empty! Ticked me off and I never bought another.

Old Kitty said...

Hooorah for taking the plunge into the Amazonian waters!!! All the best to amazing Susan Kaye Quinn!! Take care
x

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@jaybird and anyone else who's considering self-publishing myself. You might find my post Seven Questions to Ask Before Self-Publishing helpful. :)

Meredith said...

There are some amazing self-pubbed books out there, and this trilogy sounds like so much fun! I'll definitely have to check the books out.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

This looks so good! I have the first book on my Kindle, but haven't read it yet. I need to get on that!

Carrie-Anne said...

I don't really remember having read a lot of self-published books, at least not books I knew to be self-published. Off the top of my head, I can only remember The Chameleon in the Closet, a book a local woman had published on demand. It's about how her two sons became Orthodox when they were in college, and how their relationship changed and she and her husband grew to have a different understanding of that denomination.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

The first one I ever read was Patrick Dilloway's "Where You Belong". It was an amazing read.

Patti said...

Love the cover. I just got a kindle, so I'm excited to read some of these self published books.

DL Hammons said...

At the DFW Conference I was at this past weekend one agent quoted a statistic that 99.3% of self-published books sell less than 200 copies. But on the flip side, I got the distinct feeling from the presenters (mostly agents) that the tide was turning and a lot of legitimate writers (such as Susan) were going the self-published route. Traditional publishing has erecting this inflexible gatekeeping system that just doesn't allow first time novelists to flourish, so people are finding other ways.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

@DL There's an interesting survey out tomorrow that may shed some light on the self-pub statistics for 2011. But what you say is true ... last fall is when serious authors started turning away from trad-pub and diving into self-pub in larger and larger numbers. The Indelibles - the group of 25 YA indie authors I belong to - are nowhere near that supposed 200 sales mark. In fact, some of them are making serious money, supporting their families, and selling tens of thousands of copies (usually the ones who have been in it a year or longer). I'm still getting started, but my sales are not reflective of that statistic either.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Congratulations to Susan!
Can't remember the first one I read. It was at least two years ago. I'd say half of the books on my iPad are self-published.

Dana said...

Thanks for the recommendation. :)

Connie Keller said...

I completely agree with you! Susan's first book was wonderful. I can't wait to read this one.

Annmarie Pipa said...

I have nevr read a self published book..but now that i know they exist i will...I would like to support new authors.

Donna Hosie said...

Thanks for the rec.

I would suggest books by Simon Kewin. Really well crafted and formatted and his flash fiction is nothing short of genius.

Kimberlee Turley said...

I've tried to read 4 self published books and I can't really say I had a positive experience.

However, I have read a lot more than 4 traditionally published books which I have had an equally unimpressed opinion of.

I think I just must be too picky and selective in general.

JennaQuentin said...

My first impressions are often wrong in this life. The first self-published book I read was AWFUL - the story wasn't there, there were so many typos, spelling and grammar mistakes, etc. It really did turn me off to the business. Thanks for the encouragement to keep reading and form a more thoroughly advised opinion!

Tracy Jo said...

I need to read this book. Go Susan!! So many awesome reviews out there for her. Loved reading your thoughts about self-publishing.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I have to admit that I haven't read any self-published books, unless you count a few textbooks that were written by my college professors. I have read some really good books that were published by smaller/independent publishers, and they were really good, though they were sometimes hard to find. They kind of make me think of some of the actors I've seen perform in really small Chicago theaters; they're so talented that they make me think that they should be performing in front of much bigger audiences in the major theaters. It's inspiring, in a way, to know that there is so much talent out there, and it's not always being promoted by the big names.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and made launch day awesome! :)

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