Self-publishing often takes a beating–sometimes deserved and other times undeserved. It’s true that many self-published books are thrown together without much thought, which makes readers assume that these ill-conceived, poorly written, badly formatted books are typical of self-published books. I’m here to tell you that’s not true. There are excellent self-published books out there that compare with professionally published, best sellers. You just have to look for them.
My goal here is to pass along some titles of excellent books that should be on your reading list.
Finding the Good Ones
It seems self-published books are everywhere nowadays. Your neighbor down the street probably has one; your local indie bookstores have lots, and they are ubiquitous online. Of course, you should expect to find them at Amazon and other online bookstores, and some may even be available in the big bricks and mortar stores–that is, if the author is lucky and persistent in her marketing.
Sometimes, social media is a good resource. I posted a discussion on LinkedIn recently asking members of the group, Books and Writers, to recommend some high quality self-published books. Originally, I said not to recommend their own books, but several comments persuaded me to rescind that requirement. Someone also put up a link to 10 Best-Selling Self-Published Authors, which included Fifty Shades of Gray. That only proves that best-selling doesn’t always mean high quality.
The Good Ones
Here are some of the titles that were recommended and after a bit of research on them, I concluded that these were, indeed, the kinds of books I was hoping to learn about.
- David Edlund recommended two thrillers, Zone of Fixation and Serial Samaritan, by Gary W. Stout. Both books have professionally designed, compelling covers. When I previewed the books through Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature, I could see both books were well formatted and well written. I was very drawn to Serial Samaritan, and it’s on my reading list even though I’m not a big thriller fan.
- Phyllis Burton suggested Thomas Hinton’s book, Within a Man’s Heart, also well-formatted and well-written. What fascinated me most about this book is that it is a romance written by a man–a man who seems to have a handle on the genre.
- My own recommendations are Touching the Wire and Silence of the Stones by Rebecca Bryn. I read Touching the Wire first and was blown away by the complex story of Holocaust secrets that come back to haunt a family many years later. Because I enjoyed Touching the Wire so much, I was eager to read Silence of the Stones and it did not disappoint. In fact, I think I liked it even better than the first one. Rebecca Brynn creates memorable characters and a story line that will grab you around the neck and not let you go. In fact, I spent sleepless nights worrying about what was happening in the book when I was too sleepy to continue reading, but too involved to actually sleep.
- In the interest of shameless self-promotion, I’ll recommend my own new release, The Clay Remembers. I can assure you it is well written, well formatted, and professionally edited, with a professionally designed cover. I plan to write a post that describes my process of bringing this book to publication, along with some ideas for self-publishers everywhere.
Some Tips for Finding Excellent Self-Published Books
- Check Goodreads: Be forewarned, though, anyone who likes books, either as a writer or as a reader can sign up on Goodreads, so that doesn’t mean that everything there is high quality. You’ll want to check the reviews to see what readers are saying. If you have read a good self-published book, the odds are anything else that author writes will be good, too. No guarantees, but the odds are good.
- Check the store pages at websites that offer self-publishing services, like Smashwords, Blurb, BookBaby, Lulu, and others, but be warned, just finding a book there doesn’t guarantee it is high quality.
- Check book review websites and strike a balance between the paid review sites and the free review sites. Not every self-publishing author can afford a Kirkus Review, so you’ll probably find some good ones at the free or low-cost sites.
- Follow up any possibilities by going to Amazon to check out the “Look Inside” feature. You’ll get a quick preview of, not only the content, but of the formatting and the writing style. If the preview has typos and formatting errors, it doesn’t matter how intriguing the content sounds, it will be a huge disappointment. Good self-publishers set high standards for themselves and do not rush into publication before having the manuscript professionally edited and professionally formatted for both e-versions and print editions.
I would love to hear from you with your own recommendations for excellent self-published books. I plan to make this a regular feature of the blog. Just add a comment below with the title and author and I’ll check out your recommendation and, if it passes my muster*, I’ll be happy to list it.