self-published cheating

So, is it cheating to make an entire blog entry a link to another blog?

Because I could take the opportunity to chat you up on the difference between small-press POD and self-pub, and why you should never, ever self-publish your novel.

But why should I, when Brian Keene has already done so? Go to http://hailsaten.blogspot.com and take a look at his entry.

Now, I disagree with Brian on three points. First, I do think there are some books that can are such niche-market books that they cannot gain an audience. I'm thinking specifically of Jay Smith's RISE OF THE MONKEY LORD, a novel that would likely appeal to horror role-playing-game fans. That's a pretty narrow market, and Smith chose to self-publish. While I think he might have eventually found a publisher, I can't fault him for taking the most direct route, and the book has got some buzz. I might add that CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL started life as a self-published book. I might find CHICKEN SOUP and its endless progeny to be treacly pablum, but think about this: Someone rejected that book and its zillions. Ha.

I also think there are some writers who intentionally choose to self-publish because they aren't interested in the things Keene talks about: respect in the industry, a future career in publishing, scads of money. They are people publishing their work for close friends and family. I know several of these people. They don't care what publishers think of them. I sometimes wish they would consider other paths, because their work has potential. But I respect their decision.

The third point: Keene says the first novel that has been rejected by everybody from Random House to Podunk Press is a bad book. That ain't necessarily so. I think there are books that are really good, but suffer from presentation problems. There are books with a strong story, interesting characters and creative detail... but the author can't spell. There are florid metaphors in place of clear description. He's got one too many characters in his locked-room mystery, and by combining the scullery maid with the parlor maid, he can clarify everything and not lose any cohesiveness.

That's where an editor comes in, and that's the main problem with self-published books. If an author decides he absolutely must self-publish, he has to hire an editor. There are plenty of good editors out there. I do it myself; many other authors do. We're not free. We have too many projects going to work as volunteers. But it's worth the investment to hire someone to go over the book and pay attention to the details. You always, always, ALWAYS need a second pair of eyes to which you are not related.

I've published three books and am on to my fourth. On some books I've had editing so far up my nose I was afraid to sneeze. On others there was so little I was worried that some error I couldn't see would get through into the final product. I've come to realize what even some big-time authors with a zillion books have yet to comprehend: Everyone needs an editor. A good editor recognizes what is unique about your book, your voice, and lets it through. But a good editor also catches your mistakes and helps you shape the raw material of your book into something better.

If you want to publish only for a small group of people and you don't care what anyone in the industry thinks about you, hire an editor, then self-publish with my blessing. For everyone else: go read what Brian Keene says. And try not to take it too personally when he calls you a chowderhead. He's just being himself.

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