Since I’ve had my iPad, I’ve read a lot more often because it’s just so much fun. I’ve bought books from Amazon, Kobobooks.com, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. At first, I bought mostly traditionally published books, too.
Then, once I really started thinking about writing again, I stumbled onto J.A. Konrath’s ”A Newbies Guide To Publishing“, I think via Dean Wesley Smith’s blog (hard to remember). The world of Indie publishing opened up to me.
If you don’t know J.A Konrath, he’s an author that published several books the traditional way, but in the last year or so, due to an experiment with putting some of his older published material on Amazon for his fans to read, has decided he likely won’t publish through a traditional publisher any more because he can make more money self-publishing electronically on the Kindle.
So, where’s this going, you ask?
I got interested in finding out the quality of the typical Indie book, so I started with a couple of the people who commented on his blog. Zoe Winters, JA Konrath himself, and a couple others. I read Disturb, from JAK, and it was pretty good. I thought there were places where it could have been better, but it wasn’t awful. Zoe Winters Kept was good, too. I’m normally not a paranormal romance reader, but Kept kept me reading til it was done. My wife liked it, too, and made me buy the other two novellas in the series.
Then, I decided to be adventurous, and I downloaded half a dozen random samples from Smashwords. They were uniformly awful. Poor sentence structure, uninteresting characters, big blocks of scenery description with nothing happening.
From that, I deduced that the bad outweighs the good, but then, that’s pretty much always the case. After all, Sturgeon’s Law says “Ninety percent of everything is crud.”
And then, I came across David Dalglish’s Half-Orcs books. I read the first one, and really, in the first chapter, I almost put it down. There was almost too much going on, and it wasn’t clear to me at all points what was happening or why I should care, and the writing itself, I thought, was average at best. But it wasn’t awful, and I wanted to see if it got better.
It did get better. The confusion cleared up, and after about the third chapter, I couldn’t put it down. I had to finish it. These two brother half-orcs do some horrid things in this book, but David manages to make you care about the better brother (as I see him), and you begin to root for him to come to his senses and give his brother the boot.
And then I read the second book, and I couldn’t put it down. And you know what this indie author managed to do? He managed to make me care so much about his characters in this book, despite the sometimes less than professional editing job, that near the end of the book, when the bad brother does something so despicable to his brother that it’s hard to imagine someone actually doing it, that I had to set it down for a moment to collect myself. I felt so angry at him, and so sad for his brother that I had to get up and walk around for a bit to calm down. No book since Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry, which I read years ago (and reread often) has made me feel that way. Congratulations David. Hurry up and finish the last two.