The Compulsive Reader: Reading Rants: What Makes a Good Book?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Reading Rants: What Makes a Good Book?

So, this past week I've read two interesting blog posts about the issue of self publishing, or independent publishing, and I had an interesting conversation with an author who will remain anonymous. It's gotten me thinking, and even though I know this isn't a writing blog and I don't know a ton about the publishing industry, I think it's a relevant topic for you and I because it affects what we read.

The first blog post I read was written by Jessica Park and you can find it here. Jessica Park is the author of Flat-Out Love, which I read and enjoyed and I'd recommend to you all. In this blog post, Park talks about her rejections that she faced in trying to get Flat-Out Love published by a traditional publisher. It's interesting to read that the two reasons she gives for her book being rejected by publishers again--the fact that it is contemporary and the protagonist is college-aged--are two things I (and other bloggers) wish there was more of in YA. I thought that Park's post was enlightening and I agree with her that there are some things that YA is lacking that WOULD sell, but publishers aren't buying. I would probably like her post a lot more if she didn't come off as a bit beliggerent and so anti-publishing house.

The second post I read was Shannon Hale's on her blog, Squeetus. You can view it here. What I liked about this one is that Hale reminds us why everyone doesn't just produce their books out of their garages. She points of the value of the editor, agent, copyeditor, and a million other people involved in making a book.

Both of these blog posts (on different ends of the spectrum) give you something to think about, but I think what both fail to distinguish between are those writers who are just putting their work out there, independently publishing because it is so easy and not because they are making a move in their writing careers, and those writers who are turning to independent publishing because they have a story that might appeal to readers who aren't necessarily into supernatural romances and independent publishing makes sense for them business-wise. They are the ones who put out the money to hire editors and designers for their covers. And there is a difference between their work and the scads of poorly produced 99 cent e-books out there. Maybe they aren't quite so apparent, but in the coming months, we'll see more and more authors who are split both ways.

My point is not to bring up a massive debate or take sides, but I just wanted to talk about every side of the issue here. What do you all think?

Click here to view my list of recommended independently published e-books!


Alex (A Girl, Books, OtherThings) said...

I think this is a very interesting topic, actually.

I think that one of the best things about online publishers is that they publish things that Big companies might not believe will sell and so you can find some lovely gems of books that would have never made it out.

That being said, not all epublishers have the same quality and that's the trouble I think, what sort of standard are we going to hold them books up to.

What do you really expect when you pay 99 cents? and how much are you willing to pay over all for an ebook - particularly if the author is not well known.

marybelle said...

I agree about this being an interesting topic.

I find for myself that I am pretty much sticking to authors I know for my book buys nowadays. I think once the wheat is separated from the chaff I will be more adventurous in my purchases.

Nicole said...

My biggest problem with selfpublished books is that the concept might be great but, like Shannon Hale mentions, they tend not to go through the same rounds of editing, &etc. I can't help but think that if a book would work well selfpubbed that it would work well better sold mainstream, too -- and the books that are selfpubbed before turning mainstream tend to be, well, crappy. I dunno. It's a weird thing. I'm not a fan of selfpub, though, so...

Stephen Mehl said...

When you are just starting out as a writer, you are full of ideals. But when the money starts to come in, ideals change. For instance, you like cars and you see value in writing about used cars, differentiating them from the new ones, then somebody from long island ny contacted you and you agreed to make money out of your writing skills, there comes the change. When before you write because you enjoy it, you start to write because you are earning from it. It would be nice if you continue to enjoy it - but it usually happens the other way around.

Doreen Barnette said...

I think, in order to make a good book, you just have to talk as a writer every side of the issue. The worst part of being a writer is that if you experience this so called "Writer's Block" in which, you loses the ability to produce new work.