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Readers: Giving Self-Published Authors and Independents a Chance

Updated on November 28, 2010

According to Andre Schiffrin, 80% of the book sales are controlled by five conglomerates. That’s it. Do you want them deciding what you should read? I don’t. Maybe they are benevolent paternal-types who screen countless manuscripts to weed the wheat from the chaff just for us cherished readers, but I highly doubt it. They are in the business of making money, which is understandable. People don’t generally go into business to lose money. But when a particular market is so sewn up like the book market appears to be, we begin to have a situation where readers are being led instead of deciding for themselves. For purposes of this article, I have lumped these mainstream publishers together under one moniker, Big Daddy Publishers.

Big Daddy Publishers flood the market with their products. They get the prime spots in the bookstores and markets. They have the power and the scope to shove aside many worthy but smaller competitors.

Oftentimes, people make book purchases on the spur of the moment, an impulsive decision while shopping for groceries or household goods, or perhaps in an airport kiosk. I have even seen Big Daddy books in convenience stores and gas stations along the interstate. For impulse buys, Big Daddy has the advantage of mass distribution.

Other readers select their books according to authors they love or those whose works they want to explore. Again, Big Daddy pretty much has those covered.

Some of books published by Big Daddy will be excellent, some poor in quality. Big Daddy isn’t always a good judge of literary value. I read a book recently that was so badly written; I was stunned it ever made it past the editor, let alone into print. Yet it was a Big Daddy publication.

However, there are other players out there, now more than ever. There are small presses, independent publishers, self-publishers, print-on-demand, vanity presses, and individual authors who have gone to the expense of printing their own works. However, these smaller companies and individuals do not have the distribution prowess to compete with Big Daddy. For anyone outside the Big Daddy circle, readers have to be dedicated to track down their books. Their books are not likely to be setting on a store shelf, conveniently accessible to the average impulse buyer.

It’s true that anyone can publish now using a variety of means outside of acceptance by Big Daddy. And some of the work being printed is very badly written. I have read two self-published books that were mediocre at best. I will not say the titles or the authors, as they have enough working against them without my criticism. So, when people assume self-published means poor quality, there is some basis for that assumption. But it is not necessarily always the case.

I still believe there are good books out there that Big Daddy wasn’t smart enough to pick up on, or that weren’t offered to him. And I intend to find them! I encourage other readers to do the same. Next time you want a book and you don’t have a particular author or title in mind, take a risk. Peruse the self-published offerings and see what’s out there. Always, if you have bought a dud, you can write a brilliant review of the book and warn others not to make the same mistake. You may be holding a lemon in your hand, but on the other hand, there is a topic for some content on your website or blog. So, it wasn’t a total loss.

While this article is geared toward readers, I would like to pass on this helpful article to any writers out there who are considering self-publishing: “So you want to be a "Published Author" by Immartin on HubPages.

Now, back to you, readers. I have done some looking on lulu.com and selected five titles that caught my attention. I will be ordering some of the books on this list. I am hoping others will follow suit.

Small Pleasures: Mya's Story by Darnishia Bolden

Bloodraven by PL Nunn

Light Seeds by Michael St. Clair

Among Pigeons by Lawrence A. Wood, M.D.

Walk With Me by Kristin L. Lanari

Oh, I admit I will still buy books from Big Daddy. He publishes many of the authors I admire and whose works I enjoy reading. But, I am also keeping an open mind with regard to those books outside Big Daddy’s extensive catalog.

In my quest for the best self-published books, I wonder if you have any favorites to recommend? If so, please leave the title and author in your comment, and thank you for sharing!

I will continue to search the internet for more self-published novels and books by small presses and independents that look intriguing and post what I find.

Happy reading to us all!

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    • Maurice Young profile image

      Maurice Young 5 years ago from Atlanta, Ga.

      Hopefully with the popularity of social sites, independent publishers and authors can take a chunk out of Big Daddy's territory. I would hope that all independents would take advantage of the social networks and learn all they can about marketing, social networking, and advertising.

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 5 years ago from United States

      That is really an interesting post ..Thanks karen

    • Karen Wodke profile image
      Author

      Karen Wodke 6 years ago from Midwest

      Congratulations, Enlydia! I wish you much success.

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 6 years ago from trailer in the country

      Thanks so much Karen...The book is just published yesterday...

    • Karen Wodke profile image
      Author

      Karen Wodke 6 years ago from Midwest

      Enlydia, when you do publish your book, contact me. My co-writer and I are starting a website to promote our books. But also on the website, we want to include book lists. It would just be a small listing, but it's free. Every little exposure helps, we think.

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 6 years ago from trailer in the country

      Thanks for finding me today, since you have given me a feeling of fresh air...I like the way you described "them" as BigDaddy...Yes, they want a big bang for their buck, and they get the big buck, not the author...My book would have had a hard time finding a place in their world, yet I know it is a valuable book, so I am going the self publishing route.

    • Karen Wodke profile image
      Author

      Karen Wodke 7 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks, Shadesbreath. Sounds wonderful to me.

    • Shadesbreath profile image

      Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California

      Well, the marketing thing is the key, I think. After a 25 year career in sales, I've spent the last two working for a marketing company. I'm learning tons, one tiny particle of which explains my recent FB hub, and that directly relates to my having created that FB page. Maybe we can cooperate and make an experiment out of your book. I can try out some of the stuff I'm learning without having to learn all the self-publishing stuff you've figured out, and vice versa. Just a thought. Email me through my profile if you're curious. Could be one of those synchronous moments in the universe or something.

    • Karen Wodke profile image
      Author

      Karen Wodke 7 years ago from Midwest

      Shades, I am not sure it's the thing to do. I have put my book for young readers there and I have yet to approve my final revision, so this may be premature, but I am pretty sure I will have to do any and all marketing that gets done. (that was a run-on sentence, by the way.) Plus, in order to make much of a profit, you have to price your books too high to fairly compete in the market. That stinks. However, if you have a sizable following, though, it might work. I suspect you do. So if you end up publishing there, just direct your readers to the site and rake in the money. Plus, you can buy your own book at a reduced rate and possibly make some money just selling them directly to people, maybe even out of the trunk of your car when you go on speaking tours. (yes, you should go on speaking tours) I recently bought a book from there which I am going to do a review on. I don't want to spoil the review, but let me say this. It was very well-written but the subject matter is not something you would be likely to find on any rack in a store.

    • Shadesbreath profile image

      Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California

      I've debated tossing one of my novels or maybe a novella at lulu.com, but am not QUITE convinced. I'm pretty close. I'm about this [----] close to trying the novella out.

    • Scarlett My Dear profile image

      Scarlett My Dear 7 years ago from Missouri

      Thanks so much for this hub, Karen! Big Daddy has me thinking way too much about marketing strategies and not enough about enjoying the process.

      Bookmarked. ~Scarlett

    • Antonia Monacelli profile image

      Antonia Monacelli 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I see Kimberly already beat me to it above, but I was going to mention the goodreads site! A I have found a lot of independent and self-publishing authors on the site, and I love seeing what other people with similar interests are reading. I end up adding a lot of books to my 'to read' list that way, and many have been self-published or by small publishing companies. In addition, the goodreads 'first reads' book giveaway program is great. I have won 3 books on there myself, all from small or self-publishers. They were books I likely would not have ever seen, or bought on my own, but I enjoyed them all. I have read some kind of crappy self-published books, but I've read even more crappy books by the large publishers!

      Great hub, I hope more people read it and start supporting the little guys!

    • rotl profile image

      rotl 7 years ago from Florida

      You make some interesting points. Though the internet age has made it easier for unestablished authors to get published, which is good, it has also lead to a lot of junk being published, which, as you say, diminishes the image of self-published authors.

    • Tony DeLorger profile image

      Tony DeLorger 7 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Welcome to Hubpages Karen.

      The publishing industry is difficult for writers. I know exactly what you're saying. I spent the last ten years publishing and marketing books: I've written twelve myself. It's not easy but you can sell. Great Hub.

      My books are available through www.digitalprintaustralia.com/bookstore.html

    • Karen Wodke profile image
      Author

      Karen Wodke 7 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks for the comments. I am a member of goodreads, but I forgot about it until you mentioned it. I need to get back on there and update my bookshelf.

    • kbennett51770 profile image

      kbennett51770 7 years ago

      Miss Karen,

      Thank you so much for this article. As a struggling self-published author, I know it is tough out there. I have found a wonderful website (www.goodreads.com) where readers and authors can meet,you can swap books,rate books,see what other goodreaders are reading and purchase self-published books. I take my writing seriously and have my work professionally edited before I release it. It's nice to know there are readers out there willing to do some digging to find their treasures :) www.kimberly-bennett.com

    • Karen Wodke profile image
      Author

      Karen Wodke 7 years ago from Midwest

      You make a great point, and I agree. Self-published works should be held to the same standard as those of mainstream publishers. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Website Examiner 7 years ago

      Self-published authors deserve support, not scorn, as long as it is understood that there can be no special treatment as far as quality requirements. A book should be judged on its merits, not by whether it is self-published or commercially published.

      I recently bought and reviewed fellow hubber Kimberly Bennett's self-published book entitled "Twisted Delights: A Thrilling Short Story Anthology," available on Lulu. It has been professionally edited, and is of high quality in my view. Feel free to contact me via HubPages if you want me to send you the review. Thanks for this initiative. W.E.