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Time to rant again

Sunday, May 15, 2005
And time to piss off a whole new set of people.

Am I picky? Is it me? I don't think so. I hope not, at least.

I read another e-book the other night.

It was awful.

I WANT TO LIKE THESE!!! I am TRYING to like these!!

It's becoming excruciatingly obvious why traditional pubs diss the e-world as the last bastion for no-hope writers.

After the first couple, I thought maybe I was just picking duds, but I don't think so anymore. These books had good reviews -- some of them were even glowing! I don't often read reviews, but since e-books are still new territory for me, I figured I needed a guide.

I'm just so disappointed. E-pubs are fighting tooth and nail for respect in the romance publishing industry and I want -- I need -- for them to succeed since that's where most of my work will be headed because of its specific length. But if what I've read is representative of the quality of the work they publish... let 'em burn. Let only the fittest survive.

I'm not picking on any specific e-pub out there. I've read different works from several of them and they've pretty much all sucked. There seems to be no concept of editing for pacing, for flow, for structure. But I can't blame the editing.

The writing screams, "I am an amateur and I got my panties in a twist because some mean editor at Big Name Publishing House rejected my gilded nuggets of poop!"

Is it simply that these authors need time to mature, to grow, to learn? That's fine, but don't sell me this stuff as if it's done by a professional who knows what she's about. Who has a gift that has been honed by time and by steel.

I've got an ms that's not ready for publication by my standards. But I look around at what I've read and I know that some e-pub somewhere would publish it as it stands right now.

I don't think I could live with the humiliation. I couldn't deal with the fact that I know this is not the best I can do. My work should be able to stand up against the big dogs and when it's ready, I'll let it out.

I don't want any of my e-pubbed friends (and there are several of you) to think this is a knock against you, your writing, or your publisher. To my discredit, I haven't even read your stuff yet. I'm slow at picking up new books lately. I'd hung on to this latest one for several weeks before I finally read it.

I'm also not saying that all e-pubs put out the same level of schlock, or even that all works put out by an individual e-pub are terrible.

This is not a universal slam of e-publishing. It is a call to arms. We don't have to put up with terrible books.

If you read a bad book, let the publisher know that it was not up to par. If you're a reviewer, for the love of heaven, be honest. Please! You have a responsibility to those who look to you for guidance. Whoever reviewed this book and said it was "excellent" should either refund my money or have her reviewer's license taken away. I'm not even talking about differing tastes, which I can deal with. This book was poorly written and there's no excuse for that. None. If a reviewer can't tell decent writing from pig slop, she's got no business reviewing.

Sheesh. This is also why I so very rarely read reviews. Everyone is afraid of hurting people's feelings.

Well, this turned into a rant of epic proportions. Now I feel the need to spend an equal amount of time turning my own pig slop into real writing.

And remember folks, take your time aiming at the bullseye on my ever-expanding ass and exhale when you squeeze the trigger.
5/15/2005 12:44:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 16 Comments


I think e-publishing is like any other type publishing, you must dig through the dirt to find the golden nuggets. I've read duds, and I've read good ones, so I know they're out there.

By Blogger Lynn, at 9:44 PM  

A good editor is hard to find and worth her weight in gold.

I get the general impression that e pubeditors may not have as much track experience as mainstream editors and therefore may not have as good an eye. In much the same way, an editorial assistant may not see the problems in the same way as a senior editor.

There are main stream pubs who publish novella.

But whatever you do, there are a lot of sharks out there who are willing to prey on people's dreams.

By Blogger Michelle Styles, at 4:37 AM  

I think you said a lot of things others have been thinking. The quality of epubs has always been a concern of mine. Also, so many seem to solely base their output on erotica/romantica/smut - whatever you want to call it.

I also think the idea of epubbing is what gets people so excited about it. High acceptance rate, short time from submission to publication, numerous payouts as opposed to NY's once or twice a year royalties.

But the truth of it is, who really curls up in bed with a good ebook? The traditional book experience is lost. No pages to turn, no paper and ink smell - you know what I mean, right?

By Blogger Kristen Painter, at 9:19 AM  

I guess my concern with ebooks it's their lousy covers. I know...never judge a book by its cover. But sorry, I'm shallow. If I can't get past the cover, I won't buy it.

I've read some pretty good ebooks. Would I have read them if they were published in paperback? Probably not.

Besides, it's like Kristen says, many of the epublishers are into romantica/erotica. It works great for those kind of stories. Any other... er, nope.

By Blogger Silma, at 3:49 PM  

That the covers bite is pretty much a given. I can look past that, although they do give me pause.

Who says that the hotter the book, the worse the quality of writing gets to be? Several of the e-books I've read are romantica/erotica. I demand good writing, regardless of the level of heat.

That's my basic position. I refuse to settle for bad writing, plot holes so big you could drive an alien spaceship through them and characters -- particularly heroes -- who, if they talked to me the way they talk to their heroines not only would I not sleep with them, I'd probably call the cops. The line between direct and vulgar is pretty wide.

In addition, I don't think e-publishing should pigeon-hole itself as a solely erotic market. Diversification is the key to long-term survival. I don't care what format my romance comes in, but I demand quality whether it's on a screen or in paper.

By Blogger Sela Carsen, at 6:17 PM  

Great post, Sela. I have to admit that I have never read an e-book, so I can't debate this with the rest of you, but it's a lesson for me as I was considering going with an e-publisher someday.

By Anonymous Dana, at 11:33 PM  

Great post, Sela. I posted about it on my own blog today (and I sincerely hope I don't bring scores of flamers down on your head-- and mine:-). I agree with you,for the most part. Editing is crucial, and lousy books shouldn't be racking up so many five-star reviews. It makes it hard to tell what's good and what's horrid, which isn't good for the ebook industry in the long haul.

By Blogger Ellen Fisher, at 7:05 AM  

The problem with reviews is that the entire e-pub/reviewing climate is incestuous. Nobody seems to want to risk offending their friends. And don't even get me started on editors who review books they edited. Red Pen Diary who is an editor wrote a great post on this. http://theredpendiaries.blogspot.com/2005_01_01_theredpendiaries_archive.html

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:13 AM  

I've read a lot of e-books that I thought would have been excellent if they had been edited by a wise editor.

It's shame, because so many of these stories really have potential. And I love to see potential.

It may be time constraints as many of these e-editors have so many books coming out a month. I don't know.

But it's an interesting discussion.

By Blogger none, at 11:52 AM  

I love this blog. And you're obviously way cool, since we picked the same template. ~grin~

I got your link from Brenda Coulter's, in case you're wondering. Mind if I link you from my blog?

By Blogger Brenda Bradshaw, at 1:27 PM  

It's a great post Sela. And to be honest. I agree. I have stories with epubs, and I HOPE they're good. But I've also read some that are so bad I can't finish them. however, I've had the same experience with print books. It's all the same, we just have to search. I hope you keep trying , and find one that will convince you there are some good ones out there.

By Anonymous Sasha, at 4:37 PM  

ps. Email me please. sasha@sashawhite.net

By Anonymous Sasha, at 4:38 PM  

Silma is right about the covers too, but I just said to someone yesterday in a private email waht you posted here. I agree with every freaking word. And don't think I didn't read excerpts on different epublisher's sites before I submitted to them too, because you know, that reflection things...it works both ways.

By Blogger Amie Stuart, at 2:26 PM  

To be honest ... after looking through excerpts at various places, I have yet to pick up an e-book. When I can find better writing quality in my crit group ... there's a problem.

(That being said, I haven't yet looked at any of the diva's work, and the last time I looked into e-pubs was awhile back.)

By Blogger Nonny, at 3:12 PM  

I haven't read any ebooks yet, but I can tell you that I can't even count the number of poorly written, sucky, preditable plot, cardboard character books I've read. So much so that I'm reluctant to try writers I haven't read before. Often times even well known writers suck. I can tell by the first page the writing sucks.

The ebook covers are getting better, I've noticed. The covers at Cerridwen Press are gorgeous. But as I said, I haven't yet read any ebooks :)

By Blogger Trace, at 4:29 PM  

Some good points. There are a few epublishers that I will read -- ones that edit!

I think the covers are often terrible even for epublishers whose books are pretty good. Will someone *please* tell these people to hire an art editor--someone who realises that unmodified poser/bryce is playing with dolls *not* illustration.

By Anonymous veinglory, at 4:14 PM  

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