Why Self-Publishing Gets A Bad Name
I’m going to be honest with you: Until recently, I thought self-publishing was a last resort for authors who wouldn’t get published otherwise.
I was wrong. In the last year or so, I’ve noticed an increase in self-publishing. And I’ve learned that some authors aren’t self publishing because a big publishing house shot them down—though that might still happen anyway because big houses like to publish crap—but because, with a self-published book, the author retains a lot of control and a lot of the possible revenue, among other valid reasons.
Yet, there are still a lot of self-publishing duds out there. These aren’t just books that didn’t sell well. These are books that are awfully written, unedited, and full of more plot holes than a Dukes of Hazzard episode.
For example, take The Moon People by Dale Courtney, a novel that led Huffington Post to ask the question: Is this the worst novel of all time?
Before I go further in this post, I want you to know that I’m not making fun of Dale Courtney. I actually feel sorry for him because the outlet he used to self-publish this book obviously did nothing to really help him at all, other than throw his copy on a printed page.
Here is how Mr. Courtney’s novel, The Moon People, opens:
This story begins on a Beautiful sunny day in Daytona Beach Florida With a man by the name of David Braymer. A 45-year-old Single man that works at the local High school as a science teacher and astrology in the 12-grade level. Now he’s been here about 5 years and has become kind of partial to a young lady by the name of Cheral Baskel a local restaurant owner in Daytona Beach. At the moment Cheral’s preparing her restaurant for another Shuttle launch at the cape and everyone always gathers at her place because you can see the launch real good at her place. It’s also on the water and its real close to the cape and she really decks the place out.
Doesn’t everyone love to watch a train wreck? That’s the amazing thing about The Moon People. The novel has basically turned into the William Hung (he, of American Idol fame) of self-publishing. It’s been reviewed 104 times on Amazon and has 4.5 star rating out of 5. Say what? How?
That’s because the reviewers, almost all of them, are mocking Dale Courtney and his writing style. One reviewer, Sloat Fresno had this to say about the book:
This is a book. And Also its a Good book, one to read. The auther who goes by the Name of Daryl M. Corteney really has a nack for Good science Fiction telling. Also the Story. Now I dont want too Give to much away. In my review, So your going to have to. Read, the Book you’re self. But serve ice it to Say, your going to Read some things here. That you really did’nt expect. I Took one star Off for being Short and Singlespaced. But hey.
Okay, that’s kind of funny. But it’s sad because I’m sure Courtney thought he wrote a good book. And he had no one to tell him otherwise. No editor. No proofreader. No agent. Apparently, no English teacher. Nothing.
And it’s not like Courtney is just some unemployed slacker wasting his time. His bio, while horribly written, shows that he’s been successful in his main career:
D. M. Courtney is Married and a father of three, a writer and also does work for National Security on the part of foreign policies and war strategies and world economic equality. My hobbies are Scuba diving and fishing. I was raised in Miami Florida at the time of the Muriel flotilla of refugees from Cuba in the early seventies. Also did a tour in the military in the Army, went to Korea for a year. I’ve always enjoyed Writing about science fiction and I hope you really enjoy my book Moon People. Thank you and may God Bless your life.
No one said, “You know what, Dale. Maybe this book thing isn’t such a good idea. Feel free to write it for yourself and your family. Share it with a few friends if you want to. But I don’t think you should self-publish this one. It’s just not good, buddy.”
No one said that. Or, if they did, Dale was too stubborn to listen. And, amazingly enough, there have been two sequels!
Or could it be possible that Dale Courtney is pulling one over on us? Trainwrecks get a lot of publicity, and idiot bloggers like me will be sure to write about them. Could that be it?
Either way, The Moon People is one of those books that gives self-publishing a bad name. The fact that, literally, anyone can write and publish a book is both a beautiful thing and horrible thing.
I don’t know a lot about the process for self-publishing, but I’m learning more about it. And I even think it might be a viable option for me in the near future.
But if I go that route, I’ve got to invest in a professional editor who isn’t scared to tell me a sentence sucks, a chapter sucks. Or, even, that the whole book sucks. (Here’s an excellent article on Jeff Goins’ blog that walks you through the self-publishing process.)
I don’t want to sound like a pretentious jerk, but, while everyone can theoretically write, not everyone should be writing a book and attempting to publish it, just like not everyone should be flying a plane or swallowing two-foot long swords.
Write. Write. Write. Start a blog–they are great for honing your craft. Keep at it. But, for the love, don’t put your book out there in public before it’s been through the editorial ringer.
What are your thoughts on self publishing and/or the legitimacy of The Moon People?
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