Hell hath no fury like a self-published writer scorned

Well, not a whole lot of self-published/indie writers took up the challenge. . . Not surprisingly, of course, but I believed that more writers would give this a shot.

A lot of people, in the business and outside of it, have been offering me their thoughts about this. Most of them have been trying to convince me to simply forget about this, that nothing good will come out of this, and that it's a total waste of my time. I'm not sure what's supposed to have happened in 2011 to allow indie authors to achieve respectability in the field, and no one seems aware of what it could be.

In light of all the comments from disgruntled Kindleboards users, everyone appears to agree that any vote held wouldn't be fair. It appears that the majority of my readers don't give a crap about my reviewing a self-published work. Which is understandable, given the quality titles awaiting my attention and for which they would like to see reviews. Hence, the vote would essentially be decided by the indie crowd, which is not what I envisioned.

Since I went public with this little challenge of mine, regardless of the fact that many of my readers have no interest in this, I can't back down now. So I'll go forward with my offer to read the first 100 pages of whichever self-published work that will be selected. But there won't be any vote involved.

After perusing the comment section, I came up with the five works that have piqued my curiosity the most:

- Glynn James' Diary of the Displaced

There is a place where nightmares are real. It is a dark and terrifying place, hidden from the world we know by borders that only the most unfortunate of souls will ever cross.

James Halldon woke up in the dark, alone, without any food or water, without a clue where he was, and with no memory of where he came from.

It only got stranger.

James has somehow found his way to The Corridor, a midnight place that no human should ever see and the prison of a creature that has destroyed entire worlds. Somehow James has to learn to survive.

But he is not alone. The lost souls of others who have drifted into The Corridor, and died, also haunt this world, and they have been waiting a long time for someone to come along.

The Journal of James Halldon is a dark sci-fi novel that follows Halldon's struggle to survive whilst trying to understand the terrifying world in which he is trapped.

If it's dark when you wake up, and you can hear growling, then close your eyes and maybe it will go away.

But maybe it won't...

- J. Anne Huss' Fledge

Junco Coot can’t even remember her trip off Earth; she was too busy being morphed into her new avian body. But reality hits her hard when she wakes up to find her new life is not what she expected. Not even close.

Tier is on trial for treason, the avian president wants her dead, her new military team is hostile, her body is being taken over by an illicit AI, and her only friend is a ten-year old throwaway boy.

In most places the avian Fledge ritual would be nothing more than mass murder, but here in the capital city of Amelia, it’s called growing up. Junco has two choices: fight to the death to prove her worth, or get sent back to Earth in the hands of her enemies.

In a foreign culture and surrounded by people she can’t trust or count on, Junco must find a way to save herself and Tier without losing her immortal soul in the process.

- MeiLin Miranda's The Machine God

Professor Oladel Adewole has lost tenure, and the beloved, much-younger sister he's raised has died. With no reason to stay, he leaves his homeland for the University of Eisenstadt.

One thing makes life there bearable: the island floating a mile above the city. Adewole is an expert in the myths told all over the world about the island, but no one's ever been there, nor knows how it got there.

When a brilliant engineer makes it to the island in her new invention, the government sends Adewole up with its first survey team. The expedition finds civilization, and Adewole finds a powerful, forbidden fusion of magic and metal: the Machine God.

The government wants it. So does a sociopath bent on ruling Eisenstadt. But when Adewole discovers who the mechanical creature is--and what it can do--he risks his heart and his life to protect the Machine God from the world, and the world from the Machine God.

- Martyn V. Halm's Reprobate

Assassin Katla breaks her own rules when confronted with an unusual witness...

Blessed with an almost non-existent conscience, Katla Sieltjes, expert in disguising homicide, views assassination as an intricate and rewarding occupation. Hidden behind her male alter ego Loki, Katla receives anonymous assignments, negotiates the terms with clients through electronic means, all to protect her identity. Her solitary existence satisfies her until she meets a blind musician whose failure to notice a ‘closed’ sign causes him to wander in on Katla’s crime scene. And Katla breaks one of her most important rules - never leave a living witness.

Reprobate is the first novel in the Amsterdam Assassin Series. With authentic details and fast-paced action, featuring an uncompromising heroine and a supporting cast of unusual characters, Reprobate gives a rare glimpse in the local Dutch culture, information on the famous Dutch capital, the narcotics trade, computer hacking, motorcycle gangs, mehndi bridal tattoos, martial arts, and the brutal effectiveness of disciplined violence.

- XJ Selman's Buried Hope

The world is dead. The world is dead. The world is dead… and for a thousand years, they’ve hidden. The bulb in the sky burns too hot and the winds of the surface world cut like knives. But it is the air that will kill you—when the cold wind seeps in, you die.

In the underground city of Spes, one bloodline has been granted the living gift by the timeless Eye. Only the Numbers and their blessed blood can survive the toxins of the world-with-no-walls. Through the Home Gate, the Number teleports to distant Gates—where the speeds of time have ripped, and years in one are days in another—to see if time has cured the land from the sins of men long gone and dead.

Thirty-one Numbers have come and gone, the gilded cloak passed from kin to kin, and when young Victor takes his right as Number Thirty-Two, his callow heart leads him wrong. He breaks the code. He risks his life. He travels to the surface world without planting the seed in his chosen bride, the seed to continue the blood solely his.

The Chancellor and the Eye’s Guard must hope the young Number returns from the voyage to the dead world, or the ancient line will end. And if they end, how will Spes know if the world is habitable? If they end, how will Spes survive the Eye?


Feel free to comment on the nominees. . . =)

I'll give this some thought and then make my decision in the coming weeks. I will likely give the selected work a shot next month.

Stay tuned for more!

33 commentaires:

J. Mark Miller said...

"I'm not sure what's supposed to have happened in 2011 to allow indie authors to achieve respectability in the field, and no one seems aware of what it could be."

Well, Pat, I think it's independent thinking reviewers and bloggers like you who came out of nowhere and established themselves as quality voices that helps us see the possibilities of self-published works.

I wonder how many book reviewers at all the swanky industry magazines thought your blog was crap when it first came out. They probably thought, "It's a passing fad. No one will listen to this guy for long." etc. etc.

You helped break the stranglehold that paid professional reviewers had on the market. You didn't seem to care what those people thought. You did what you did and people could either take it or leave it.

I think there may be some indie authors out there who feel the same way. (Myself included.)

I'm writing because I have a story to tell and I'd like to share it with whoever's willing to give it a shot.

I know it's probably crap compared to the big guns out there. In fact, in comparison, I know it's crap.

But I'm going to write anyway. If people think it's crap, that's their own choice. Sometimes I think some of the stuff that's been published that everyone raves about is crap. That's just my personal opinion.

And that's ok.

Whatever happens, thanks for your blog, Pat. Thanks for being one of those independent voices that proves people who don't have the industry behind them are worth listening to.

Michael McClung said...

I really don't get why you're being so obnoxious about this, Pat.

Many of your readers are also self-published writers, I'm sure. After all, SF/F isn't *that* large a community. So why would you want to belittle or alienate them?

I'm honestly confused.

Blodeuedd said...

Should not read comments.
That's all from me

Anyway good luck!

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

Wasn't 2011 when the "Amanda Hocking became a Kindle-sales millionaire" story hit? I can see that might have helped credibility, or at least given some the perception of credibility.

MeiLin Miranda said...

There are more than a handful of us making full time livings self-publishing. Me, I make more than a really nice dinner out, less than the house payment most months, but it's early days. My first book has already "earned out" what I would have gotten as an advance as an untried writer--I'm hearing that's about $5k from my friends with book deals.

In my case the decision was easy: I was recovering from a critical illness and we weren't sure I was going to make it. I didn't have the years to devote to finding an agent, hoping she could find a publisher, waiting at least a year and probably more for it to hit the shelves--if it didn't get dropped when the editor left--only to be in the bookstore for two months. So I went for it. It's been worth it. I'd only accept a deal now for life-changing money and that's not going to happen.

Just as you were told you'd regret issuing this challenge, I've been told I'm a fool for submitting my book to you. The tone of your post convinced most of us that you were going to savage whatever you got no matter how good--that's why few have taken you up on this. I'm trusting you really mean it when you say you'll give it a fair shake, and hoping that if a story is technically well-told and produced but not your thing that you'll acknowledge that.

kamo said...

Well, I'm a very occasional reader of yours, and I'm more interested in this than anything else you've put up over the last couple of months.

It's a car crash rubber-necking kind of interest though, I'll happily admit. In both these posts you've presented yourself as a Grade-A prick, and the ensuing spitting out of dummies in the comments has also been childish beyond belief.

Still, no such thing as bad publicity, I guess. For you or the potential victims. And still I watch, for the same reason I'll watch a couple of drunks knocking seven bells out of each other after the pubs have closed. It's hugely unedifying and does nothing to improve me as a person, but god help me it's entertaining.

Christine said...

I really want to support self-published authors and truly hope that you read, enjoy, and can recommend, the book you decide to test drive.

I just wonder how many self-published authors are directing their anger at you when they should be directing it at the self-published authors that publish crap and give the whole group a bad name.

I've given up self-published work because I find books that sound great and have consistent five-star reviews but when purchased, downloaded, and read, are just horrible. While I get the idea of solidarity among self-published authors it is the consistent amount of crap produced that steers many readers away from the category as a whole despite the existence of, I'm sure, really amazing books.

cripple mode core said...

I review self-published or indie works often. Some people have been displeased about this.

Not everyone is going to love a writer's work, but that doesn't mean that what they wrote is crap.

I often don't like books but that never means that it's poorly written. It simply means I don't like it.

I do not solicit for nor do I take solicitations to review, I just obtain what I want and review them. I also recognize that my review really doesn't have a lot of weight.

I don't think my review is that much help most times. Perhaps if an established author were to review the books that might help.

I don't see that happening in the same way that I don't expect an established author to offer to read an unknown's work prior to publication.

What I perceive out there is that most of the time an independent work that has more than a couple dozen reviews usually has sold a large number of copies and have a larger sampling of people who care to review book.

I don't see that many books whose sales are improved by reviews. I see good books that have lots of sales.

I could be wrong here because I have certainly been wrong before. I think the best route to sales is self promotion and I think that any indie author has as much chance as any other author at having a well polished finished piece of work.

Personally I think you should read all those choices. It might keep you busy and out of trouble.

J.L. Dobias

Anonymous said...

Anthony Ryan - Blood Song (A RAVEN'S SHADOW NOVEL)

It was an independent book with a horrible cover. It’s no longer self-published if I remember correctly, and hopefully with a better cover (given the history with publishers and fantasy covers, I wouldn’t bet on it though).

Read the book mostly because I was feed up with the published fantasy novels in later years and wanted to try something new. A really pleasant surprise, it was better than most things I read last year. I’m in no way implying its revolutionary, but it was a solid read. Given the result I tried four more independent novels with a good rating at amazon, not a single one of them was worth printing on paper. Don’t know if I possess the energy to wade through more crap to find a gem.

Jon R said...

I gotta vote for either the Fledge or the Machine God. Both had sufficiently interesting premises and the reviews had clean prose.

Regarding the 'Pat vs. the indies (self-pubs?)', it's a highly entertaining brawl, and I think a great challenge. Great exposure for any self-published author brave enough to give it a try. I hope whoever gets picked is reasonably talented and has put the work in. I think that's all it takes to make something readable.

Scott Marlowe said...

I don't think it matters at this point whether you like the books or not. Bad publicity is better than no publicity, and that's what this has become.

Anonymous said...

What no links? I would be interested in trying out a few of these books just out of curiosity.

Everyone knows that you are going to read just enough pages to write a blogpost about how horrible the story/writing is, so the least you can do is link to the books that you are going to shred. You do link to every other book that you talk about...

Chris M said...

Awww why not two Pat? ;_;

My votes on Fledge. And then Buried Hope as a tentative second. And Machine God as third. :D

XJ Selman said...

I am insanely excited to be on your list, Pat, even if it's a list to a potential chopping block. I hope it will not disappoint if you do choose mine (or any of the others for that matter) just for the sake of your view on self-publishing. As scorned as some self-publishers may be, it can't be denied that you are influential.

Just because the book had not been published yet when I pitched it to you, I'm going to supply a link here: www.amazon.com/Buried-Hope-Spes-ebook/dp/B00BAQ2N62/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1359994675&sr=1-1

Anonymous said...

"Well, not a whole lot of self-published/indie writers took up the challenge. . ."

When a self-published reviewer beclowns himself, few care about him anymore.

Kevin B. said...

The Machine God actually sounds very interesting.

Reprobate sounds like the type of story I'd enjoy. I like the "psychopatic killer gets his life thrown in disarray by bumbling innocent" trope. Léon, for example, is one of my all time favourite films.

Even though I agree with some peoples assessment that for a self-published writer (reviews or fiction, writing is writing) you're mightly and amusingly denigrating about other self-published writers, (pot and kettle and all that) I perfectly understand your reluctance to read self-published works.

Going by your previous post it's largely the same reason I don't bother with it: there are numerous traditionally published books released each year that I'd like to read, let alone the enormous backlog of classics that I haven't gotten around too yet. I simply don't have the time, or the need, to read more than 30-40 books a year. Those slots are easily filled with books from the above two categories, so I really don't feel like wading through the thousands of self-published works of mediocrity in search for those interesting gems that I'm sure are there.

I also don't like reading for long periods at a time on electronic devices. That doesn't help either.

That said, late last year I acquired my first book from a self-published author. That was through a Kickstarter project from someone who already had some writing credentials however. I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

S.M. Muse said...

I too am a self published indie author. I tried for many years to get published and failed... on so many levels. I never critiqued my own work enough, never learned enough to properly edit my grammar, etc. Still, I had a story I wanted to get out there for people to read, so in October of 2011 I did just that, cleaned up my manuscript and sent it out into the world. End result, decent sales, I finally found an editor willing to clean up my mess, and more than a few readers who seemed to really love the worlds I put on paper.
Writers are meant to write, that's it- but we also need to clean up our act, edit the work we send out, and be honest with ourselves- that sometimes we produce crap, sometimes a gem.
I want to wish everyone out there struggling to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, good luck, study your craft, and above all else, believe in yourself.

Thank you Pat for your blog and your efforts to support the struggling few who truly have a well drawn story to tell.

S.M. Muse- author of Heir of Nostalgia- A Gathering Darkness.

Anonymous said...

You keep using The Most Interesting Man in the World as your meme template, yet the text doesn't really fit with that theme. Wouldn't something like "I don't always read, but when I do, I prefer traditionally published books" make more sense?

Unknown said...


Even though I didn't make the indie cut, I wanted to again thank you for taking the time to consider Indie work. Maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised and we can see good indie work reviewed here.

spinwallah said...

love the blog dude. if i were picking, id go for fledge, id buy it on the strength of what i read there. anyhoos keep up yhe good work

spinwallah said...

nice blog dude,oo eck, i think you should go for fledge, id buy it on the strength of what i read. keep up the good work

Unknown said...

Patrick, I thought you would have been mobbed! It's a shame, because I'm sure there are some really good authors out there. It's a scary thing, putting your head on the block for critique, but there comes a point, I think, when you have to stand by your work, especially if you want others to pay for it. I missed your criteria by a whisker or two*, otherwise I would have been in there like a shot. I have faith in my work. (There, I said it! ;) )

(*My first novel Carousel was picked up and released this last December as contemporary horror by Necon E-Books. They're a small publisher, so I consider myself an indie, but not self published. Also Carousel is speculative but has one firm foot in the horror category.)

I hope you're not put off and you do something like this in the future. Those of us without the big NY publicity machine are struggling right now and need opportunities like this.

As for the nominees, I do like the sound of the Amsterdam Assassin Series. :)

Unknown said...

Patrick, I thought you would have been mobbed! It's a shame, because I'm sure there are some really good authors out there. It's a scary thing, putting your head on the block for critique, but there comes a point, I think, when you have to stand by your work, especially if you want others to pay for it. I missed your criteria by a whisker or two*, otherwise I would have been in there like a shot. I have faith in my work (there, I said it! :) ).

(*My first novel Carousel was picked up and released this last December as contemporary horror by Necon E-Books. They're a small publisher, so I consider myself an indy, but not self published. Also Carousel is speculative but has one firm foot in the horror category.)

I hope you're not put off and you do something like this in the future. Those of us without the big NY publicity machine are struggling right now and need opportunities like this.

As for the nominees, I like the sound of the Amsterdam Assassin Series.

(And if this post appears pre-mod more than once, I apologize. The entire internet has had me twisting in the wind, today, grrr.)

Capt Beardface said...

I humbly recommend The Black God's War by Moses Siregar III, there is a novella and a stand alone novel of the same name go for the novel. It's all the same story he just released the novella as a way to pique interest. Moses is also a podcaster on Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing and one other podcast but the name escapes me at the moment. I really enjoyed his novel and will be picking up future works by Moses when they become available.

Jess said...

I really think this 'Buried Hope' sounds interesting, more than the others anyway

David Wagner said...

I enjoyed Greg Hamerton's 2 Lifesong books a lot ('Riddler's Gift' and 'Second Sight'), as well as James Daniel Ross ('I Know Not' and 'The Last Dragoon'). Two indy authors with books among my favorite reads last year.

Also enjoyed titles by Jolea Harrison, Anthony Ryan and Moses Siregar.

Always on the lookout for good indy authors/books. Thanks for this list, Pat. I'll check them out as well.

Jeff said...

I think Machine God sounds the most interesting.

Mike said...

I'd like to see you review The Machine God. Of the ones you suggested, it's the one whose premise interested me the most.
At any rate, I'm curious to see how this turns out.

Anonymous said...

When was the last time you reviewed a book anyway?

Patrick said...

Anon: The last one I reviewed was on February 6th. The one before that was on January 30th.

And I have another review coming up early this week...

It's not rocket science, you know... You just need to scroll down...

Anonymous said...

Pat, thanks for including Reprobate in your line-up, even if it's technically not speculative fiction, but suspense fiction. Might not be your cup of whatever you drink, but who knows, you might end up buying the whole series. Although Reprobate can be read as stand-alone, I found that most readers cannot wait to read Peccadillo to see what happens with the characters.
As to the 'bravery' suggested by many commenting on this and the other blog post - I wouldn't self-publish if I didn't think my books could measure up to trade published books, so I'm not afraid of being critiqued in a review. In fact, I welcome anyone to review Reprobate. I have an open invitation for reviewers to request free review copies of Reprobate, and it would be disingenuous to select reviewers based on whether they'd be likely to post only favorable reviews.
So, in that sense, I hope I make it into your final selection. I'd be curious how much your review would deviate from the favorable reviews I received from Publishers Weekly and Amazon Reviewers.

Anonymous said...

Anthony Ryan's Blood Song is better than 90% of the books I read during this last year, second only to Abercrombie's Red Country or Lawrence's Prince and King of Thorns (haven't read Emperor yet)..

Like someone said nothing revolutionary, but really well done, and quite impressive for a self-published autor.

Give it a chance.


Unknown said...

Please give all indies a chance- we write for you, not some lit agent or some bean counter at a publishing company.