Monday 24 September 2018

Traditionally Published E-Books Are Sometimes So Bad

I'm reading The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. It's the second instalment of The Strain trilogy.

I'm really enjoying the book, but I'm reminded of something I heard David Gaughran say in a video once. In it, he asked a question: as an indie author, what's the first thing we do after uploading a book to a retailer?

The answer is pretty obvious. We download a copy for ourselves so that we can check that it's formatted correctly. It's the very least we do.

Traditional publishers, though, often don't even bother with that simple step.

And that's the problem with this book. The story is enthralling, and the world is expertly detailed, but the formatting is terrible. I'm reading the one published by HarperCollins UK, which I bought from Google Play. A couple of niggly things include missing quotation marks and italics, and the fact that accented characters (like the French é) are garbled, but that's not my biggest problem....

A linked Table of Contents is, in my opinion, critical for an e-book, even in fiction. Without one, you can usually tell how far you are in the book overall, but you can't tell how far you are in any given chapter, or sometimes even how many chapters you have left. What's worse, though, than the complete absence of a linked Table of Contents, is a broken one.

And boy, is this book's TOC broken. Firstly, only every tenth chapter or so actually appears in the table (and there's no discernible pattern as to which ones those are), but Google Play reckons the book is only fifteen pages long! Oh, it's plenty more than fifteen pages, because it takes a week to read a single one of them. Consequently, I have no idea how close to the end of the book I am after two weeks of reading, and I can't update my Goodreads progress, either.

Now you might say that this is Google Play's fault, rather than the publisher's. Google must've messed up the formatting and page numbering, you say. Fair enough, but there are millions of e-books available on the Google Play store, all with perfectly fine page numberings and Tables of Contents.

Google could've messed up the formatting because the publisher did something particular with this book's epub file, or it could just have been a glitch.

If whoever uploaded the book had bothered to simply download it from the store and check, they would've identified and fixed the problem in minutes.

This also goes to prove another commonly spouted adage by indie publishers: nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to care as much about your book as you do. And why should they? They're probably making bucketloads of money off the print version of that book. Publishing the e-book is simply an afterthought.

People often complain about the poor quality of self-published books. They may be badly formatted or poorly edited, it's true. But when that happens to an indie book, it's often down to (unfortunately) lack of time or finances on the author's part. Not that that's an excuse, it's just the way it is.

There is, however, no excuse for a massive publisher like HaperCollins UK, with their near infinite resources, and the pitifully low royalties they pay their authors, to not do the legwork in making sure their product is as polished as it can possibly be. It comes down to pure apathy and laziness.

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Selling Print Books in Person

Even though I don't read many (or any) print books anymore, having graduated to e-books, there's something really special about selling a print book in person and signing it for the buyer.

Even better is when, having read the book they bought, the person asks to buy more copies to give as gifts to friends.

And that's what happened to me on Saturday. A friend of mine bought a copy of the paperback of Memoirs of a Guardian Angel a few months ago, and loved it so much that, not only did she buy a copy of Stingers from me, she asked for another copy of Memoirs for a friend!

And of course, I signed Stingers for her, and Memoirs for her friend.

I tell you, words cannot explain how good that feels.

Have you ever bought a self-published book, directly from the author? If not, why not? You should try it sometime; you will never know what a confidence boost it is for the author.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

My First Periscope Was Live on Friday

Last week, I told you that I was going to start doing a live Periscope chat on the first Friday of every month.

Well, that broadcast happened on Friday. It only lasted six and a half minutes or so, and had one participant, who didn't chat with me. But it was a lot of fun, and you have to start somewhere, right?

It was nerve-wracking, let me tell you! I ran through the books I'd read in August, what they were about, and what I thought of them.

Click on the image below to visit my profile and watch the reply. Then, let me know what you thought in the comments below.

And don't forget to subscribe, so you can be notified when I'm live next month.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Killer Space Clown by Eli Taff, Jr. (Book Review)

I love me some flash fiction! Especially of the horror kind, and this collection features some of the better-written stories I've read.

It contains ten flash fiction stories, each one guaranteed to be exactly 500 words in length. Which is not an easy thing to do: guaranteeing less than 500 is one thing; guaranteeing exactly 500 is quite another. I really appreciate the craftsmanship here.

As you go through the stories, you start to get a sense that they're all connected in some way. Perhaps set in the same universe. Initially, though, that connection is quite subtle, but as the stories progress, it becomes really obvious. Obviously, a lot of thought went into the order of stories in this collection.

And that universe is really compelling. I think this author might just end up being a modern-day Lovecraft. If you like weird horror, you're sure to love this.

My Review: 4 / 5 Stars

About the Book

This spooky anthology by Eli Taff, Jr. is a collection of ten flash fiction stories packed with cosmic horror and unbelievable terror that will keep you on the edge of your seat and have you sleeping with the lights on.

The evil clown that steps out of a childhood memory and kills with a touch; the terrified mother who finds a monster in her daughter's bedroom; the unfaithful businessman who gets off the subway at the wrong stop; the gangster who robs the wrong old lady on the wrong night.

Each microfiction horror story is exactly five hundred words long, and one or more can be easily devoured in a single sitting.

Click here to find out where you can buy the e-book.

Are You On Periscope? Join Me on the First Friday of Every Month

From September, I'm going to be trying something new. On the first Friday of every month, I hope to have a Periscope session, where I chat about all the books I've read in the previous month, and what I thought about them. I hope to get some great feedback and recommendations from visitors too, and start cool discussions.

If you're on Periscope, click here to follow me, so you can be notified when my first broadcast happens.