I’m back! I know, I know. It’s been one hell of an extended hiatus. But life got tricky, things got in the way and the projects that I do for myself really took a backseat. But I’m back, I’m here and I’m so in the zone for talking all things books!
For my first post back I want to talk about self-published books. Because frankly I have a massive issue with this whole topic. And perhaps it is more of an issue for me as I near completion of my first novel and I have to decide whether to publish traditionally or self-publish. But I have to be honest: I can’t help but feel a little snobbish about self-published works.
I adore books, as you probably know if you’ve read my blog before. I love searching Amazon, or looking through the stacks in Waterstones or independent bookstores. When I finally purchase a new book I’m usually so excited by the premise, in love with the cover and have that tingly excited feeling to start reading. But my stomach just drops when I realise that it’s self-published.
Let me say this, I have absolutely nothing against self published authors – I think it takes a lot of dedication and determination to go the self-published route. I know people who have self-published and who are doing a tough job of being a marketing manager and sales person all in one. But personally, my experience with self-published novels has been extremely poor.
Maybe, I hear you cry, you just have not read enough self-published books. And you’re probably right! After the fifth or sixth book that was riddled with spelling mistakes, plot holes and issues with dialogue, I had all but pretty much given up.
If I’m being honest I do tend to be more critical of self-published books that their traditionally published counterparts. When I know a book is self-published I read it more critically, taking care over each word and sentence, just looking for an error so that I can shout to myself, ahah! I knew it! But that really isn’t fair.
I’m sure that there are amazing self-published novels out there. I’m sure there are authors who have a really solid grasp on their writing, who spend months and years perfecting their story and who put everything into their cover design. But with the rise of kindleunlimited I have come across far too many novels that read like a first draft. And even more covers that make me want to vomit. I know you should never judge a book by it’s cover, but honestly, I am never going to take a book seriously if it’s got a sexy half naked man – or woman – on the cover, no matter how interesting the plot sounds.
However, my feelings on self-published novels were well and truly challenged last weekend when I received my copy of From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Amrentrout. First of all, the cover was absolutely gorgeous:
I immediately looked it up on Amazon and the plot instantly hooked me for a second time to the point that I was begging for it to be good. Thirdly, the reviews are incredible for this novel. There are nearly 500 5* reviews on Amazon alone and it also seems to be really popular on instagram as well.
So I ordered a copy knowing that I absolutely could not wait to get started. But when it arrived and I saw that little: published by amazon barcode on the inside back cover my heart sank.
I genuinely expected this book to be horrendous. But I’m not going to sit here and review the novel, because quite frankly I need a whole other blog post to do that! But let me say this, despite my misgivings I really, really enjoyed this book. More than I’ve enjoyed a book for a long time. To the point that I can barely wait the next week until the second is released.
Did it read like a self-published book? Yes and no. There were no spelling mistakes, the tone was excellent, the characterisation really unique and interesting, the world building gorgeous. But there was the odd word that was incorrectly used. And there was a fair bit of dialogue that felt inappropriate (the novel is set in a mythical kingdom that is almost middle age in feeling. Most of the characters spoke very properly, but at times these Americanisms would sneak in and swear words that seemed really inconsistent with the setting.) But really they were small gripes in comparison to my enjoyment.
Was I looking at the book more critically than I would a traditionally published novel? Absolutely. Was it perfect? Hell no. But in this instance it really didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the storyline.
So my question is this. Have you read a novel that was self-published that you truly, truly thought was brilliant? If so please hook me up, because if there is good stuff out there, I want to read it!