Take some responsibility! by Candi Wall

So I hit the purchase button the other night SEVEN times. Yeah, you heard me right. Seven times. For a grand total of $21. and some change.

I don’t part easily with my money, except when it comes to books. I could spend THOUSANDS. (Checking to make sure hubby didn’t read that.) Below is what my house will probably look like some day.

I usually don’t complain. But here’s the thing. I read the first book – LOVED IT – and went on to the next. It was a .99 cent purchase from an author I didn’t know, self-pubbed and I liked the premise. Hey I’ll give anyone a chance. ONCE.

I hadn’t reached the end of the first chapter when I realized I’d given my money away for nothing. I groaned, archived the sucker and went on to the next one. The next wasn’t as bad, but there was a plot hole the size of Jupiter about midway through and by this point I was losing interest in the hero. Too bad, because it started off as a good read. Darn.

I’ve twittered several times about this as well, venting my frustration for the self-pubbed authors who are making other self-pubbed author look bad. Every reader who has a bad experience with a self-pubbed book makes it harder for other authors to sell! Argh, the frustration! And I’m not even self-pubbed.

At this point, hubby was starting to get sick of my ‘waspish’ attitude. After three more days, my results were:

Seven purchases

1- Loved

2- Liked

4- Couldn’t finish

I know – it’s a crap shoot right?!?

NO! It isn’t.

And here’s where dear hubby had all he was going to take.

In his words…

“What did you expect, hon?” Raising a quizzical brow. “If you go to Wal-Mart and buy a vacuum for twenty bucks, you get what you pay for. It’s like buying toilet paper at the dollar store. It ain’t gonna hold up.” (Yep, I’m married to a thinner version of Larry the Cable Guy.)

Well how dare he. I have friends who self publish. That’s not fair! (Insert indignant foot-stomping) “There are tons of authors out there with brilliant books!”

“Really?” says hubby. “Then you would think you’d do your homework before you buy.”

GADS! He’s SO right. And I’m so not going to tell him that. Sheesh.

What was I thinking?!?

We’ve been spoiled peeps. Let’s face it. The publishers we’ve come to trust have given us so many great books, we may have forgotten how to check the products first. Don’t get me wrong, one person’s crap is another’s gold. I hate what you love at times and visa-versa. But we came to rely on what they put out there.

Now if we, the consumer, are going to gripe about prices and go elsewhere to read at super cheap prices, we’ll have to start doing our own research. We’re spoiled again however, because there is this ingenious little thing called the World Wide Web. Search engines abound, and at any time, we can sluice through the crap to ferret out the truth, or at least get a sense of what we’re getting into.

Here’s my new list of things I check BEFORE I purchase:

  • Google the author
  • Do they have blogs?
  • Reviews? (Other than where I’m purchasing from and checking the author’s responses to reviews)
  • Any other books out?
  • Website?
  • And of course – I ask my writing/reading pals
Seems like a lot of work, but hey, there are some amazing authors out there getting lost in the shuffle of self-pubbing. I want to find, support and enjoy them. If that means I have to do a few minutes of research, so be it. I’m a big girl, I can handle the responsibility of checking out my purchase’s history beforehand. After all, who wants a $20 vacuum that doesn’t work, when you can get the fantastic $5 super sweeper that might just be the next big thing?
So take some responsibility as readers! Check it out first.

15 Responses to Take some responsibility! by Candi Wall

  1. What a great post..yep do your homework first…great blog…shall have to follow..ELiza Keating


  2. I’m embarrassed to say this…I have never thought of doing “homework” before buying an author who is new to me! This is a real eye opener for me for a few reasons. If others start to do this as well, your online media presence becomes even more important than before. It becomes our vetting point. Hmmmmm I think youve touch on something here that could be important for all authors to think about. Good post!!


  3. I get it. You are RIGHT. But the problem that self-publishing has created is an ocean of choices, most of which are not very good. And at .99 cents (where on the keyboard is the symbol for cents?) you’re not going into bankruptcy for the experience.

    On the other hand, there are some very serious writers out there who deserve to be found. If they have a website, they are serious.

    Check out my website: lynalexander.com.


  4. William says:

    It goes both ways. There are books I’ve bought BECAUSE OF reviews, because of articles/interviews/blogs/whatever, and the book tanked (for me) before Chapter 3. (It’s frighteningly easy to establish a ‘legitimate’ online presence that is nothing more than smoke and air, trust me on that one.)

    The advantage to the ePub Phenomena is price. I understand the concept of feeling like you ‘wasted’ money on an eBook, but isn’t .99 or 1.99 or 2.99 less of a chop than 6.99 or 7.99 (for a mass market paperback.) I could not begin to estimate how many book books I’ve bought over the years because it looked good or got great reviews or a friend was over the moon about it and I gave up halfway through.

    Part of the joy of it all is finding a new author that excites you and makes you want to read more of their work.


    • William,

      Oh, I agree completely! Checking out an author before you buy certainly isn’t a cure all.

      I LOVE finding new authors and falling in love with their writing, but if there’s a way I can help myself sidestep the works out there where you know the author didn’t bother, then I will.

      The pricing is fantastic, well worth coming back to try new books, and so I will. Just a bit more carefully.

      However, when you eat humble pie like I did that day, I figure it’s well worth sharing… 😉


  5. Yup, and consider me lost in miasma of crappola, LOL!

    One thing I have found the $2.99 books tend to be better than the.99 cent ones. This does not include short stories of course but it’s the difference between an author valuing his/her work and someone who just wants to get something out there. The you get what you pay for motto holds true. Great blog!


    • Hey Jenna!

      Thanks for coming by.

      The price is a huge question mark for me because of why the author prices it that way.

      There’s times when I’ve read a .99cent novel and at the end I would have gladly paid more. I wonder if the authors putting stuff out there have a hard decision on price because there is so much out there for .99cent. I wonder if they come to the decision not to make that jump up in price becuase it might ‘take them out of the competition’ so to speak.


  6. Catana says:

    I absolutely agree that readers have to take some responsibility for what they buy. But trust tradtional publishers? Not on your life. I never did. Why anyone would buy a book without knowing something about it is beyond me. I always do my homework before buying a book, but some of the items on your list won’t tell you anything about the book you’re considering. Does the author have a blog or website? Does it matter? Do they have other books? You won’t give a first-time author a chance? I do check out those two, but more as a matter of interest than judgment. The most important item for me is the one you left out — read a sample. It won’t tell you if the plot poops out somewhere down the line, but at least it will tell you if the author can actually write, and if the story sounds as if it will be interesting.


    • Hey Catana,

      LOL! You know, I hear more and more readers saying they don’t trust the publishers either. I still happen to. There’s a few (and some aren’t the huge guys) that have consistently put out good titles. No each one isn’t my favorite, but I can usually depend on a solid read.

      For me, being able to read what an author puts out there on a blog or a website is valuable. It might not tell me a huge amount, but it gives me SOME information. And when it comes to them being a first time author? Of course! I read first time authors all the time. But I like knowing two things from an authors ‘other’ books (if they have any). 1. How well did they do with their other books, and 2. Even if they’re a first time author, if I like them, will there be more novels for me to buy.

      This list certainly isn’t a fail-safe. It’s simply different ways I’ve decided to check on an author before I buy.

      And yes, reading samples! Reading a sample wasn’t added to the list because honestly, I assumed everyone did that. 🙂

      Thanks for coming by!


  7. Catana says:

    Candi, there’s a lot of pressure on authors to price low, partly because of the success of people like John Locke. And new writers are afraid that no one will be willing to risk any more than .99 on them. But that .99 is sometimes an introductory or sale price for a book that is or has been priced higher. I don’t judge books by their price any more than I do by their covers — except when they’re overpriced.


  8. Ruth Kenjura says:

    I don’t always google them or check out their website, but if amazon offers a sample chapter-whether indie pub or regular pub, I get the sample chapter and read it. when the chapter is not available, I usually check to see if you can “look inside” and if I like what I see, I usually hit the buy button. If they don’t have either of those options, then I take to the net and see what I can find. I rarely buy any book without checking to make sure that I will probably like what I am getting. But even with that, there are no guarantees. There have been a few books, even by authors I read, that about half way through the book I can put it down and not really want to go back and finish it.



  9. Robin Yaklin says:

    Before the electronic age, way back when, I would get recommendations from friends and once I found an author I liked I would buy the next books. Of course, I can still do that, but now I am inclined to do research before hand. But, you know, I’m researching off a recommendation. Guess I’m back to square one almost.


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