Lately, every time I see someone complain offhandedly about the quality of self-published/indie books on Amazon (or anywhere) I tend to cringe a little. And that’s because it’s getting tired as a general statement. Even though there are bad self-published books out there all over the place (and a few bad published books as well that cost far too much money), there are also experienced, bestselling authors now moving into self-publishing. The reasons authors who have been traditionally published do this are many, and far too complicated to get into in one simple post. I had very distinct reasons, one of which was I wanted more control over my work. I got that control with “Chase of a Lifetime.”
But the main point nowadays is that with more and more traditionally published authors self-publishing their own books (most seem to be on Amazon)the reputation of indie/self-publishing is taking a turn for the better and that old cliche about authors who do self-publish because they can’t get a publisher or agent doesn’t work anymore. In fact, literary agents are now taking advantage of these self-publishing opportunities and I know they are offering “services” for their clients. I even know authors who are trying to juggle their schedules with publishers because they prefer self-publishing their own books. And, more important, pricing their own books.
More than a few authors I know who have been traditionally published, and have had agents, have moved into indie publishing quietly, and Hal Bodner is one of them. I met Hal through a friend when he started getting into the digital first market about four years ago. I’ve posted about Hal before on the blog, and about his books. I’ve read his latest LGBT novel, THE TROUBLE WITH HAIRY, that he released on Amazon himself, and I can tell you without question the quality is there, the story is there, and it’s just as good…if not better…than anything he’s had published before.
Hal recently did an interview that is now on youtube, to which I’m linking right now. It’s not only interesting to watch Hal on video and to put the face and voice with the name, but also to listen to what he has to say about his own personal experiences. And like the title of the post says, Hal’s an outspoken gay man with a professional background in law, he’s a businessman, he was in a long term relationship before his partner died suddenly, and he’s a bestselling author with books that have been released from traditional publishers. You can check out his books here.
The Amazon page to which I’m linking contains the self-published work of a writer I know personally, Curt von Dornheim. I used to edit for him when I was still taking on clients on a selected basis. We became good friends after that and his work has been very inspirational for me, both in private and professionally as a writer.
I’m linking because I know his work…both fiction and non-fiction…and I always enjoyed editing it. The non-fiction is sort of spiritual new age without getting too deep or too complicated in technical jargon. It’s more feel good reading about self-esteem than it is fact based on research. He’s more than qualified to do this. He’s a retired minister and he ran a “Creative Consciousness” workshop in Key West for many years. I met him when he moved back up north and settled in New Hope because he wanted to be closer to doctors in Philadelphia and New York.
His fiction is m/m with a POV from an older gay man. It’s not erotic and it’s more focused on the love and emotion than the sex. “The Wings of Fate” is my favorite, which you can find on Amazon, I think, as a free download if you belong to that Amazon Kindle club thing. But all of his indie e-books are priced very fairly and I know the content is good because I’ve read them all.
He’s also very well read, in both non-fiction and fiction. I saw someone on a social network the other night make a blank statement that you don’t have to be a good reader to be a good writer. I disagree completely. If you don’t read good fiction you’re not going to know how to write good fiction. I’m not talking about content and subjective subject matter now. I’m talking about the techniques of crafting fiction and the more physical aspects. To say you don’t need to be a good reader to write good fiction is like trying to open up a high end retail store without ever having been inside Gucci. It just won’t work, and only time and experience teaches people things like this…the things that can’t be learned in a classroom.
The only thing I can’t promise with Curt’s books is the quality. And that’s because I didn’t do the copy editing nor did I help him get the books out on Amazon. He started doing this about a year after I told him I just didn’t have time anymore for freelance clients. So in this respect, with regard to quality and editing, I can’t make any promises. I haven’t read the self-published e-books up on Amazon. I’ve only read the raw manuscripts. And I know from my own experience with Amazon Kindle publishing sometimes words and “things” get mixed up during the conversion. But I do look at it this way: in Curt’s case, even if there are a few mistakes in editing they aren’t going to be huge, and the content is well worth the effort. You’re going to take away a lot more than if you read a bad book without any mistakes.