Saturday, April 29, 2017

I’d Throw It at The Wall, But I Don’t Want to Break My Kindle by Mackenzie Crowne

With a single glance, each of you could accurately determine which of the nearly one hundred novels on my re-read shelf are my favorites, simply by the amount of wear on their bindings. However, my shelf of paperback keepers is little more than a testament to bygone days. To a time when physical books were all we knew and a handful of publishing houses set the rules.

Those days are over. Epic changes have hit the book world since the advent of digital formatting. Some of those changes were long overdue. Others, I could live without. In the “Wow, that’s cool” column is the convenience of the “one click” purchase. How sweet is it to no longer have to run out to the book store in search of the perfect weekend read? And I have to tell you, travelling is so much easier these days.

Instead of a dozen paperbacks hogging space in my luggage, my trusty Kindle fits in the pocket of my purse. Along with many favorites, it’s jammed full with books by unknown authors who’ve tempted me into giving them a try via bargain basement sales. There are at least one hundred TBR titles on that sucker that I haven’t had the time to read. Having such an extensive selection, picked up at rock bottom prices—or for free—is another point for the “Wow, that’s cool” column.

Or is it?

One of the biggest changes brought about by the digital revolution is the explosion in self-publishing. As an author, I’m thrilled for the many talented writers out there who can now bypass the time-consuming and seemingly arbitrary submission process common to traditional publishing houses. As for the avid reader in me, a million new books hitting the digital shelves each week is a giddy reality.

Available at the
bargain basement price
 of $.99 

On the flip side of that reality is the “Well, that sucks” column. What’s the old saying? Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should? Let’s face it, in today’s market, anyone can self-publish. And before you freak out, I’m not saying anyone who self-pubs writes crap. Believe me, I’ve read some total crap that came from the Big 5 and, in full disclosure, my first foray into the publishing world was an Indie project, my breast cancer memoire, Where Would You Like Your Nipple? available at Amazon. (Ahem. Shameless plug.)

All I’m saying is, like the title I deleted off my Kindle last night after a single page—the impetus for this post—quite a few of the books that hit the market each day should never see the light of a tablet screen. Seriously, knowing how to use a computer keyboard doesn’t make you a storyteller. Which, I’m thinking is a strong justification for the existence of seasoned acquisitions departments in all those publishing houses who insisted on setting the rules for so long.

But who am I to toss ice water on someone else’s dream? If there is a story inside you that needs to be told, by all means, go for it. Just, please, understand there are some very important benefits to your manuscript spending some quality time in the hands of a hard-nosed editor. Do yourself and the reading public a favor. Find one.

Bottom line, whether you’re an old hand in this industry or a wide-eyed newbie, choosing between seeking out a publisher or becoming your own is a complicated decision filled with countless variables unique to each situation. No matter which road you choose, there will be pitfalls.
(Ask me about the cover I recently received for the next and final book in my Players series. No, wait. Don’t ask. I’ll start crying again.)

Because my publisher is awesome, they are rectifying the cover situation, but that kind of cooperation isn’t always a reality when dealing with a publishing house. On the other hand, going Indie and having to handle absolutely everything, including formatting, marketing, and promotion, has its drawbacks as well.

I’ve experienced both, and for complicated reasons, I’m ramping up to jump back into the self-pub market with a fantasy romance series I hope to release beginning this fall. I’ll be taking my own advice, of course. There will be multiple editors involved before anything goes to print, because I would hate knowing someone had tossed their Kindle at the wall because of me.

When Mac isn’t throwing her Kindle at the wall, she spends her time weaving HEAs for her characters, like the latest in her Players series, Wyatt and Piper from TO WIN HER SMILE, now available for preorder via KensingtonBooks


Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

My worst two books are the last I wrote for a big five publisher. I wrote to their specifications. Went along with their edits because it was THE biggest publisher in the world...and who was I? It's taken a lot of work to get my voice back, to feel like a strong writer again.

Good luck with your fantasy series. I can't wait to read it. This excites me. And don't be afraid to self-publish or go back to the smaller publishers who don't try to change the writer's style. Hugs and whoot...whoot!!

Brenda Whiteside said...

I'm of the mind that I do hate the dictatorship of the big houses, but on the other hand, there are many books out there that give self-published books a bad name. I love my editor and wonder if I self-pubbed how could I ever find such a good one...without paying an arm and a leg. But editors are so very important. AND I HATE the onslaught of free and $.99 books. I really do. They've watered down the market. It's like when someone here at the RV Ranch announces to me they bought one of my books, love it, and now will make sure it makes the rounds through the park. I'm supposed to be flattered, and I am, but gee...couldn't you tell everyone to go buy their own copy!

Barbara Edwards said...

I'm recommending everyone jump back into the post and buy your breast cancer book. It's a winner.
The writing choices you mentioned are both work. I've never tried self-pubbing since it involves so much work besides writing the book.

Rolynn Anderson said...

I have my editor (I first worked with in TWRP), my beta/line readers, cover artist and formatter. Yes, I pay them, but the quality is a given. I work on my own time line; those of us of a certain age are highly conscious of time...and we need to control it. Self-pubbing is the only way for me.

Andrea Downing said...

First let me say I read "Nipple' some time ago and it helped me through a distressing period--it's definitely a must-read for those facing a difficult journey. But YES YES AND YES about the traveling with kindle--I was sure the airlines and publishers were in cahoots with weight restrictions because digital has made my traveling life so much easier but, as you say, there is some awful stuff out there. Some time ago, before self-pubbing took off, I read the blurb for a Civil War novel, it interested me and I bought it. Worst book I ever read. Not only did 2 of the 4 main characters magically disappear on pg. 140, but the other 2 seemed to spend their time 'making water' and sitting by campfires. Only reason I continued was I was thinking about using it for a creative writing class--and it was just so funny! I discovered too late it had been pubbed by a vanity press. The bottom line, caveat emptor I guess. Know your author, read reviews that seem to be intelligent and think... And good luck with the new series.

Leah St. James said...

Great post, Mac. First, I am NOT a fan of the free books unless it's for a short-term sale. I think the glut of freebies has devalued the product to the point where readers don't want to pay for books, period, unless it's a superstar (or at least well-known) author.

As far as quality, I used to write a column for my local newspaper about writing and local authors. I received books all the time from local authors asking for reviews. It amazed me the number I received that were filled with grammatical errors and typos or with poor formatting that screamed amateur. It's tough telling an author, who has worked hard on a project, that you can't feature it because of quality. One guy got belligerent and wrote to the publisher that I was incompetent. (Luckily his own email proved my point!)

Mackenzie Crowne said...

And I am THRILLED we readers are greeting the real V voice back. <3

Mackenzie Crowne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mackenzie Crowne said...

Brenda, I know, right? I'm totally with you, girl.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Thank you, Brenda. And yeah. Both are work and both have pros and cons. I've tended toward traditional publishing for the most part because I was lucky enough to catch the interest of publishers, but also because organization is not my strong suit and self-pubbing requires major organization.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Rolynn, I'm blown away by authors like you who manage to write incredible stories and then make the self-publishing end look so seamless. I hope I can do a fraction of the job you do with my Indie series.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Andrea, thanks and I am so happy to hear "Nipple" was a positive influence for you when you were in need. As for the Civil War novel, LOL. It's scary how many really bad books are out there. I've become a lot more selective in choosing cheap or freebies these days. My "Throw it at the wall" ratio has dropped dramatically, but it's still sad how many potential tosses are out there.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

lmao Leah. Don't you love when karma makes your point? ;-)

Jannine Gallant said...

I feel lucky to have found a publisher who doesn't try to squash my voice (although we'll see how that goes with the new editor who comes with my new series) and also promotes my books. I'm not sure how excited I'd be to jump back into the time-consuming world of self-publishing. Except for short forays. I'm thinking of putting my Christmas ROP short stories out there in the world next November. Best of luck with your new adventure!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Entertaining as always, Mac. Only once did I dip a toe into the waters of self-publishing, and jerked it out quite quickly. I don't seem to have to have the stamina for it, though I have phenomenal respect for those who do. Traditional seems to be more my style. Best of luck with your indie venture.

Alicia Dean said...

Well said, Mac. I agree that just because you can, doesn't mean you should. But, there are tons of awesome self-published books. And, as you said, plenty by the big 5 that should never have been published. I think one of the big problems IS all the free and 99 cent books. (I've been guilty of offering books for this amount myself). But, one of the big problems is, readers don't value books that they get so cheaply. Therefore, a lot of crap sneaks through. If I were going to pay $5 and up for a book, or even 2.99, I would check it out more thoroghly than I do the feebies I 1-click onto my kindle. I'd read an excerpt, read more of the reviews (and just because the book has bad reviews, it doesn't mean I wouldn't buy it. I'd just consider the bad AND good reviews and the excerpt and determine if this book is worth my money. I'd still be disappointed at times, but not as often as I am with freebies. And, I'd value each book much more.

Diane Burton said...

Chiming in late. You make some good points. Love the ease of traveling with my kindle, now my iPad. There are self-published books that give all of us a bad name. I have self-published since 2011. Prior to that, I had a small publisher that went bankrupt, had poor distribution, and I made little money. I'm currently published by another small publisher from whom I make very little money (last year, $10 and change). I'm not in this career for fun. I make decent money from my self-published books. I hire a great editor (our own Alicia Dean) and a fabulous cover designer. Maybe I'm a tad OCD, but I like taking care of every aspect. I'm responsible for my own work. I write what I want to write. Deadlines are my own. Self-publishing isn't for everyone. Everybody has to go their own route--whether it's traditional publishing, self-publishing, or a combo.