I am not a self-published author, at least not yet, but as part of my research, I've been reading self-published ebooks on Amazon. As a writer, it's an excellent exercise in what not to do, but as a reader it can be an experience that leaves one's eyes spinning round as one slaps one's head against the e-reader in sheer frustrated fury.
First, lets talk about the difference between a serial and a series, because too many self-pub authors seem to have no clue (either that, or they're outright lying, and I prefer to believe them ignorant than deceitful).
A serial is single story published in parts. A popular form in the 19th century, serializing has become popular for self-pub ebook authors. For one, a complete novel might sell for $4.99 but a novel published in several parts, even with the first offered for free to "hook" the reader into buying the rest, could sell all together for nearly twice that.
A series is two or more books about the same characters and/or setting. It may or may not have an overarching plot. The alphabet detective books by Sue Grafton are an example of series without an overarching plot. The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling are an example of a series with an overarching plot. What each book in both types of series has is a beginning, a middle, and an end. Book one of the second type doesn't resolve the overarching plot but it does solve the immediate story problem. The point is, there's an end, a resolution.
The worst thing is to buy Book One of a Series and realize it isn't, it's merely Part One of a Serialized Novel. It makes me as a reader feel lied to, and I won't buy the rest no matter how good it may have been. I'm not opposed to serials, but for the love of all things written, correctly label your work! Your readers will thank you!
Last week I read a story in first person POV where the character was supposed to be a best selling novelist. If you're going to do this, you better at least have a clue as to sentence structure and grammar, and preferably a broader vocabulary when it comes to descriptions. I could believe a third person best selling novelist in a badly written story, but not first person. Also, when did switching POV become a "thing" in first person narratives? Did I miss the memo?
I'm not a big fan of first person POV to begin with, but it seems to be the thing to do these days, for no apparent reason. Didn't writers used to consider POV carefully, to decide the best one to use?
Last gripe, which is not so much bad writing per se, but a bad habit of some writers. If you ask for critique on your writing, you are asking a reader to give their opinion. It's like asking their favourite colour, there is no wrong answer. Maybe you were trying something and it didn't work for that person, then it didn't work for that person. Maybe yeah, they didn't "get it" but you don't go tell them they're wrong. Don't change it if only one reader has an issue with it. But when several readers point out the same thing, and you tell them all they're wrong, and you did what you did deliberately...they are telling you that, deliberate or not, you failed. Now accept the crit, use it or don't, but move on.
I saw this where several readers posted near identical crit and the author corrected them...and all crit after that was only praise, which seemed to be the only kind the writer wanted. Writers like that make it hard for people who genuinely want to improve to get honest crit. Stop, you're ruining it for us all.
I'm not entirely sure self-publishing is the route that's right for me. I can't network for the life of me; in real life or online. The most I could realistically achieve self-publishing is the personal satisfaction of a screen shot of my book on Amazon.
That said, I keep reading about it.
As I understand it, a print book (such as a POD from CreateSpace, to keep this about self-publishing) has one ISBN, and an ebook (Kindle/Nook) requires another, and any other form of the book would require yet another (an audio version, for example, would need a need a separate ISBN number). Kindle, Nook, CreateSpace, all provide ISBN numbers, but they also retain a percentage of the sales.
In Canada, a writer can get an ISBN number for free; Canadian authors simply need to register with the government as a publisher. (You can apply for one or a sequence of ISBNs - they ask how many books you think you'll publish in a year.)
Canadian authors with marketing and networking skills can get 100% of their sales by registering as a publisher. Nifty to know!
Sometimes, length does matter. When I was first learning to write, "A story is as long as it takes to tell" was the first and last advice on the subject I needed. But when I started publishing, word count suddenly took on importance.
I wrote 100 word flash fiction, and short stories that fit the "no more than X words" categories, and I've finally figured out how to write a novel all the way to the end. (Yes, I am one of those "half-finished novel" types.)
So what if a story only needs 25,000 +/- words to tell it? I don't know, yet. Watch this space!
As an introvert, putting myself "out there" as an Author is the most difficult thing to learn; even more difficult than learning to write in a manner that doesn't induce rampant cringing.
I've had this Weebly site for some time, but it has taken much research and several revamps to turn it into something that may actual work for me. This is the New and Improved version!
I will be talking about what I'm writing, but to be honest I'll mostly be making snarky comments on other authors' mistakes. Not to be mean (I won't name and shame), but to remind me - and hopefully others - of what not to do as we put together our respective works.