Point Me In The Direction Of Self-Published Awesomeness

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Let’s not beat around the bush.

I’ve got IRREGULAR CREATURES up at Amazon, and I’ve got it here and at Smashwords and a few other places. And I am, in some cases, amongst some damn good company. Anthony Neil Smith’s CHOKE ON YOUR LIES? Chris Holm’s 8 POUNDS? The TERMINAL DAMAGE collection?

Great stuff. And just the tip of the iceberg.

But c’mon. C’mon.

For every one piece of awesome “indie publishing,” you get ten, twenty, maybe even a hundred pieces of nonsense floating around. For every satchel of diamonds you get ten poop-encrusted toilet seats. For every Geoffrey Chaucer you get a hundred brain-sick spider monkeys.

The ratio isn’t yet what you’d find in traditional publishing.

Further, I’m learning more and more that the self-published author doesn’t have the same vectors of promotion. It is, by and large, up to the author (and the author’s incredibly generous audience) to get the word out about one’s own work. The normal channels of marketing and visibility and promotion (read: whoring) just don’t exist yet for the self-published dude.

Should we continue to call it self-publishing, by the way? Can we just lose the “self?” “Indie” works, I suppose, but for me, maybe “DIY publishing” has a bit more of a workmanlike ethos.

Or maybe “punk publishing.” Pubpunk? Wordpunk? Inkpunk?

Eh, whatever. I’m stumbling off the path, here.

What I’m saying is, since those normal channels don’t really exist for the self-indie-DIY-pubbed penmonkey, it helps if the penmonkey’s audience spreads the word.

So, spread the word. Here, now. Tell me about some high quality indie fiction out there. Digital, if you please. Stuff that’s on par with work that has come out through the traditional system.

And hell, if you are just such an author, and you think your work is of that quality, pimp away.

Give links where appropriate.

46 comments

  • Hehe, I was just writing a blog post about how I don’t really like the term “Indie”, but hate the term “Self-Published” and I was trying to come up with a better term. Then I wander over here and you’ve thrown down “Pubpunk”. Great.

    I’ll accept “DIY Publishing” if it’s assumed to be DIY channel-style: knocking down walls and grout everywhere, an orgy of paint cans and lumber. If it’s “Honey, I fixed the toilet by jiggling the handle!”, I will be…less pleased.

    Anyways, my point is if you follow the link to my blog there you’ll find some Buck Fiction: quality short fiction at a dollar a story. You can read the blog for free (wow!)

  • I pimp the hell out of my writing on the site I just linked to, so maybe I’ll leave it at that.

    DIY Publishing. I like that one.

    My wife and I were reading a Lonely Planet phrasebook here in Hanoi and we saw the phrase, in the sex section, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself.” Umm, do you need to say that often? Or, and again I’m not making it up, “Easy, Tiger.”

    DIY Publishing. Make it so, Number One.

  • Oh, hey, did somebody say pimpage?

    If you go to my blog (should be a link thingie if you click on the ogre to the left), you’ll find six wooden books about various things, and if you go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Lulu, you’ll find six (well, four at Lulu) ebooks. The ebooks aren’t actually the same six as the wooden books, although some of the ebooks are in one of the wooden books.

    Awesomeness? Well, yeah, I think so. I really do. The Death of Patsy McCoy, for instance, has a five-star review by Zoe Winters, the author of three novellas which are selling quite nicely, by all accounts.

    As for the label, whatever sticks, I guess. I just say “I’ve had six books published,” and let it go at that. Feeling compelled to tell everyone that I’m self-published would be like telling everyone who built the house I live in or something. Who cares? Does it have a roof? Does it keep the rain off? Are there words on the pages? Preferably in a color that contrasts nicely with the page? Well, there you go then.

  • Do you really think, that the badge changes anything? Nope.

    It isn’t the badge, that counts, it is the channel, you communicate your work over, the community, you use to get recognised. Let readers put badges on what you’re doing (you’ll just need a tiny portion of self-confidence for that).

    And if you hate environment and company your DIY-stuff is in and amongst, start to destroy it: complain, harshly and loud. fight against it (by the way, this will deliver a nice amount of publicity …). And stop being nice.

    (Last paragraph was for the part of your soul which sympathises with being a punk.)

  • A friend of a friend self-published his Venetian-ish fantasy book, The Pearls That Were His Eyes, and it is genuinely one of my favourite books ever. Gorgeous ominous scene setting and worldbuilding, scary intriguing mystery at the heart of it, awesome Shakespeare and tarot references and engagingly brilliant/awful/doomed characters.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pearls-That-Were-His-Eyes/dp/0955852404/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1296132136&sr=8-1

    On the other hand, the Bookseller usually has a page of adverts for books published through XLibris, and – with occasional exceptions – the ones who can afford the ad space tend to be the craziest-sounding. Maybe there’s a relationship between ‘people who DIY publish good books’ and ‘people who don’t think their meagre marketing budget is best spent on advertising in print media to people who are in the traditional publishing industry and will almost by default reject their books out of hand for being DIY published’.

  • My YA old school adventure series The Blackfeather Chronicles is posting online at http://www.worldofshandor.com
    The first two books are available in full, and illustrated, on the website, with the third updating weekly. The first one is out in paperback, with the second coming out in print at Balticon. Those first two will be available as e-books on Smashwords sometime in February, for something like $1.99.

    The story follow a family of archeologists in the Victorian era of a fantasy world, and features the walking dead, cultists, spiritualists, volcano islands, secret abilities and occasional breaks for tea.

    Also, there are lovely pictures.

  • I’m currently delving into a writing project on my site I’ve called Twelve Stories, writing twelve pieces of short fiction and switching on their comments sections for people to comment, discuss, expand or criticise them. The work stems from whatever is currently ticking over and none of them are connected in any way, shape or form.

    January’s is called Rise and Set, and follows Faruk, a man struggling to survive the night in the tourist district of a post-global-warming-apocalypse London. Take a peek at http://www.cyreid.com/twelve-stories/rise-and-set-january-2011/ if you feel interested. Hope it’s enjoyable to you and anyone else who happens by it – if not, tell me why.

  • I’m a huge fan of When Graveyards Yawn by G. Wells Taylor. And it’s available for free from manybooks.net. Anyone who’s a fan of zombies, detectives, or clowns should definitely check it out.

  • I have to offer up my crit partner Susan Bischoff’s fantastic debut, Hush Money: http://www.amazon.com/Hush-Money-Talent-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B003YCPGOG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1296140489&sr=8-2

    Nadia Lee’s A Happily Ever After of Her Own: http://www.amazon.com/Happily-Ever-After-Her-ebook/dp/B003NSC5YK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1296140525&sr=1-1

    Amanda Hocking is selling smashingly well (she has too many books to list): http://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Hocking/e/B003H4L762/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

    My own novellas Forsaken By Shadow and Devil’s Eye are selling and rating quite well: http://www.amazon.com/Kait-Nolan/e/B003EAMCMM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

    All of these books are available at other vendors. Whether you shop at Amazon or not, for indie work it behooves you to check out rankings, ratings, and reviews there and at Goodreads, as the lack of an actual RANKING system is part of what makes it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. And read the samples. You’ll know in a page or two whether that author’s style is to your liking or not.

  • I’ll toss in Al Guthrie’s self-pubbed ebooks

    Bye Bye Baby – http://amzn.to/ig0TaM

    Killing Mum – http://amzn.to/g2TvZ8

    and pimp his blog eBooks That Sell, where he talks about, wait for it… eBooks that sell.

    http://ebooks-that-sell.blogspot.com/

    And the equally awesome The Grove by John Rector, – http://amzn.to/hdgQMZ

    which is no longer self published, actually. Amazon picked it up as part of their Amazon Encore imprint after he moved a fuckton of copies of it on his own in Kindle format.

  • I think you should try The Demise of the Soccer Moms by Cathryn Grant. You can pick it up for $2.99 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or even Smashwords. I’m going to link you to her website so you can give it a look. I’ll be reviewing this book on my blog next month and Cathryn will be guest posting. I found her on Twitter…just like I found you, and I love her flash fiction.

    I don’t know why some people get a book deal and others don’t, but you won’t find an audience if there isn’t anything available. So why not DIY…I love to read and I have read plenty of “real” books that suck and never should have made it to print. Clearly, for some, its all about who you know and not what you can actually write. Just my opinion.

  • I prefer the “DIY” label for this stuff, myself. Indie, to me, still means independent presses – small niche houses like Candlemark & Gleam – rather than self-published authors or authors who’re distributing their own work and outsourcing their editorial, book design, etc.

    You’re damn right about the marketing and discoverability issues, though. I keep thinking there needs to be a Rotten Tomatoes for DIY authors/books…

    • I can definitely see “indie” being a label that feels apropos to smaller publishers, but really, a “self” publisher is just another small publisher.

      I continue to like DIY, though. It has that craftsman feel — “Fuck it, I’m building these shelves my own damn self.”

      Doesn’t change the fact that a lot of “DIY” fiction is crap, but hey, whatever.

      – c.

  • I draw a webcomic that we’re making in issues and publishing via Lulu. The first issue is currently available for preorder via Kickstarter (http://kck.st/fhbmFP). We’re pretty new but we’ve been working on it for quite a long time!

    A bit about the comic, and us:

    Walking On Broken Glass has been described as a Supernatural Office Dramedy Romance about Murder. Which, while maybe not specifically accurate, does display the wide array of topics and ideas this comic embodies. It’s about a man dealing with a dark fate looming over his future and his quest to make up for the wrongs of that future in the present. It’s about a woman with enough strength, determination, love and stubbornness to stand by his side through thick and thin. It’s about monsters. It’s about magic. It’s about werewolves! And witches! And vampires! (Oh my?)

    Samantha Mathis is many things: a writer, a bartender, a mother, a seamstress, a comic fan… the list goes on and on. She lives in LA with her family and spends her days sipping gummy bear martinis in the SoCal sun. (And also writing comics!)

    Caytlin Vilbrandt is an arteest and gamer geek, lover of all things tabletop, and dice hoarder extraordinaire. She lives in Seattle, reveling in the gloomy clouds and the fact that her hair is never truly dry. She arts for a living.

  • This is a bit of an odd choice but I enjoy it: Choice of Broadsides. Available free online or payed on the kindle this is the grown up digital version of your old choose your own adventure books (or a fresh take on the Lone Wolf series if you were into that sort of thing). The writing is excellent, the world believable, and every choice actually seems to matter. Personally I also enjoy the age of sail in general and the details that went into the immersive experience.
    Choice of Games is a small independent game company specializing in interactive fiction so I suppose technically they fit here. Enjoy the game/book/punkpub thing
    http://www.choiceofgames.com/broadsides/

  • I don’t mind the term indie. I like it better than self-publishing, that’s for sure. That’s a label that’s got a stink on it that won’t ever come off. DIY could work too. It does have a very workmanlike sound to it. Fitting considering how much I feel like I’m doing besides writing right now. And I don’t even have anything that’s for sale yet.

    I actually posted a blog the other day at my little spot on the Web about one of my concerns with being an indie author. It seems like indie authors are all supporting each other, and that’s great. But what worries me is that we are so busy talking to each other that we aren’t ever going to talk to anyone else about our books. So, yeah, you may sell 250 copies of your book to all of your indie author friends, but you’ll never get beyond that. Real success — big success — will require more than just your indie clique to buy your book, and that will require word of mouth. If we spend all of our time talking to each other and not engaging others then we’ll never get that word of mouth started. The two friends I tell, will be the same two friends you tell. And they’ll all tell the same two friends. Sorry, ranting. More of that is here if anyone just couldn’t get enough.

    http://jarrettwrites.blogspot.com/2011/01/my-worries-about-being-indie.html

    I really wanted to comment here and say that I’ve got a story up at Smashwords that includes an excerpt of my novella coming out next month. The story, called Consider Us Even, is a bit of a peak into the world where the series of novellas will take place.

    It’s a sci-fi series that’s heavy on the dark and dirty and light on the science. It’s more noir than it is sci-fi, honestly. Near future, no space opera.

    The short story focuses on an addict who is needing his next fix. And if getting it means he has to pound the heads of a few guys he considers friends, then so be it.

    You can find the story here.

    http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/31485

    It’s got a couple of nice reviews, including one from Sabrina Ogden who posted a comment above me. She even let me steal a day on her blog. It’s folks like her, people who aren’t concerned with anything other than finding a good story, who are going to be the key to some indie/DIY authors breaking out.

  • Then I declare myself a DIY PubPunk! Let the party continue, same as before, but under a much more interesting banner.

    Oh, while I remember, there’s two Other People’s Works (short fiction) that I’d like to pimp a little:

    1. Jeff Ambrose, “The Boogeyman Men” (H)
    2. Annie Bellet, “The Spacer’s Blade (and other stories” (SF)

  • Ok, my attempt at a repimp* of Aigaion Girl … a story of the end of days:

    The basics: it’s about the apocalypse; it’s sarcastic, cynical and a little bit hopeful; it has a cast of crazy but lovable characters; you should read it.

    In case my pimping is still inadequate, this is what Alison Strobel (The Weight of Shadows) has to say:

    …this book is obviously not intended to be a “Left Behind”-like attempt to teach through fiction what the end of the world might actually be like–or what the Bible has to say about angels and demons and the spiritual realm. But it is extremely well-researched, very well-written, and reminiscent of Terry Pratchett’s dry humor and penchant for outrageous, yet loveable and engaging characters.

    Aigaion Girl is available on Amazon (dot anything, just about) and through Barnes&Noble, among others – and, of course, if you click my picture, you can find it on my website as well. It’s also available for Kindle, if that’s the way you roll.

    *Pimping has never been my strong suit; I’m always worried about teal deering people.

  • It’s hard to go wrong with the king of thriller publishing for the kindle, my good friend Joe Konrath:

    http://www.jakonrath.com/freebies.htm

    The man’s a hell of a storyteller.

    As for my own foray into the field, check out STORM SURGE, which I like to think of as a cross between DIE HARD and KEY LARGO on a luxurious resort island threatened by a Cat. 5 hurricane. Guns! Scary bad guys! Scarier good guys! Romance! Lighthouses! Stuff blows up!

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003DA4G8Q

    https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/11659

  • Don’t dig any of the names that’s been thrown around here so far. The main reason I don’t like them because they’re not original…Indie to conjures up the music and film industry (tho if I had to choose one Indie would be it…it sounds the coolest), DIY conjures up Home Depot (you can do, we can help), Self-publishing sounds like another form of masturbation.

    Seems that as writers we should be able to come up with something better, something original.

    But alas, I got nothing other than:

    New Publishing, as opposed to…Old Publishing *spit*
    JIT Publishing (just in time)
    Lone Wolf Publishing
    Lib Publishing

    like I said…I got nothing.

    Chuck, maybe you can have a contest for this…give away your new book, or another ceramic thingy to the winner.

    BTW, my debut novel, THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR will be released on Kindle and as a download from my website http://bojiki.com February 19. You can read the first chapter at http://bojiki.com/book.

  • Dear Indy-whotsit publishers,

    When pimping your stuff, ADD A FREAKIN’ DESCRIPTION. Log line? Heard of it? I am not going to follow dozens of links. Chuck gave you a chance to market, and you don’t bother giving a hook. Why should I read your book? It’s a freakin’ LINK. OOOooOOOoo. A link…maybe a title….MAYBE a genre. You tell me it is awesome? I am so impressed! I will clicky right away!

    Sorry, JD, that isn’t what I read, and your desc is a bit to high-concept to pull me outside my reading preferences.

    CY, clicked link, not sure what I’m looking at, no explanation on front page. Left.

    Greg S, clicked “trees” link. Description at Lulu didn’t grab me. Left.

    Caytlin, your desc is too long and is the equivalent of “this epic fantasy is about saving the world.”

    Sparky, I like CYOA. But what the hell is this about? No click.

    Jarrett, you buried your pimp; I barely found it. Looks like a good hook but not the kind of thing I’d read.

    Athena, okay, genre, somebody likes your stuff, what’s it ABOUT?

    Kurt, free stuff is good, but I have no idea what the novel’s about and thus am not enthused about free stuff.

    Everybody else: I didn’t bother.

    Chuck, you asked for recommendations on what to blog about: right there’s a topic for you. Write a log line and how to use it to MARKET.

  • Here’s the funny thing about being an IndySelfPubPunkDIYer: no matter what you do, it’s your own fault. If someone says :Hey, here’s a chance to say something about your work,” and you take them up on it, what you say is going to be the wrong thing, and it’s going to be your fault. You said too much or you didn’t say enough or you were too specific or you were too general or it somehow just isn’t quite in someone’s comfort zone, and even that is somehow your fault.

    If you dare to speak of your self-published fiction, sooner or later someone is going to come along and rudely, angrily, long-windedly put you back in your little place.

  • @DeAnna,

    I appreciate your feedback and you’re absolutely right — my attempt to pimp my whore-book was feeble and weak and I deserve the public ridicule. I was working on the hook and whatnot but it wasn’t ready when I responded to this post. I have something up now and if you or anyone else feel so inclined, I would appreciate it if you checked it out and let me know how you think it should be improved. http://bojiki.com/book

    Thanks.

  • I’m not out there yet, so I want to pimp one of my favorite online writers, Dusk Peterson. He writes darkfic, usually male-oriented, but centering more around friendship than sex, and is psychological rather than action-oriented. He evokes an atmosphere of times gone by that makes you think you’re in an actual historical setting. Some of his shorter works are on Amazon Kindle, but he’s now publishing novel series in the form of omnibuses. The Eternal Dungeon Omnibus at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/27251 is a collection of four related novels. “A man of deadly impulses, Layle Smith binds himself strictly by his dungeon’s code of conduct. The head torturer’s efforts to maintain this delicate balance are altered, though, by the introduction into his life of Elsdon Taylor, a vulnerable prisoner who is coming to terms with his own darkness.” This writer deserves to be more well-known.

  • DeAnna – Fair point. Opportunity blown on my part, at least as far as you’re concerned. possibly as far as anyone who read the comments on this blog post are concerned.

    So, with that in mind:

    Fetch – Father Ian promised his parishioner to investigate a mysterious sighting at the nearby cemetery. When he does and finds nothing out of the ordinary, he arrives at the man’s house only to find him dead. Evil is roaming the Irish countryside and has its sights set on the good Father. http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/36915

    Power in the Blood – Reggie is growing more and more tired of the beatings and daily bullying he has to put up with. Finally, he finds a new source of strength, but will it be his undoing? http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/39310

    I hope this meets someone’s taste and or piques their interest.

  • Thanks, DeAnna. I did bury my pimp. I got a little too long-winded in the early part of the post. I meant to just hit my point and move on. Didn’t do that. The pimp got pushed down a little farther than I had intended.

    And sorry that it’s not something you’d read, but thanks for saying the hook was good.

  • You know, if Aigaion girl could put on a pair of fishnets and stand on a street corner, my job would be a lot easier. I’d just have to get it hooked on drugs and beat it up when I didn’t get my cut.

    One more repimp, hopefully short, succinct and at least marginally interesting*

    Aigaion Girl is about a half-demon, her angel frienemy and a general of Hell’s army who set out to stop the apocalypse. It doesn’t have a genre (at least none that I can pin down).

    *and if all else fails, repetative enough that people will click the link in a misguided effort to get me to shut up.

    • @Athena:

      I will say that, you have a killer cover. And your website is really nice, too –

      One problem with the site, though? It’s hard for me to buy the book. The main page doesn’t seem to have a link. The books/stories page doesn’t seem to have a link. Only the For Sale page does.

      I shouldn’t have to struggle to buy the book, y’know?

      – c.

  • I’m a voracious reader and my critique partner, Chryse Wymer, writes awesome work and is one of my favorite authors of all time. Her novella is This Dark Magic. http://www.amazon.com/This-Dark-Magic-ebook/dp/B0040JI0VI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=books&qid=1296750473&sr=8-1

    Description: Capital City is a tough-as-titanium town, but it wasn’t always that way. Only a month ago, it was a placid place to live. In this quirky dark fantasy novella, Charlie Landers must navigate a dangerous world of black magic in order to save his little corner of the universe. 9,840 words

    Review: This novella reads like an unforgettable Poe tale with a Noir feel. There are a number of ultra-creepy moments in The Dark Room that I won’t ever be able to shake. This is one of those books that you don’t want to put down. Charlie Landers, the main character, is three-dimensional, likeable, and adds humor in all the right places. The tale builds and never makes a predictable turn. Chryse Wymer, an author on the rise, wields her pen with intelligence, style, and a vivid voice, that never talks down to the reader. A thoroughly enjoyable read that I highly recommend.

  • @Chuck: Thank you muchly, both for the compliment and for pointing out my mistake. The cover and the website are all mine design-wise, and I have to say, I’m fairly proud of them – but you’re absolutely right; there should be links on those pages. I can’t code worth a damn, but I’ll definitely see about getting that fixed ASAP.

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