Q is for Quality

Wanna be an author? Well lucky you! In this day and age all you have to do is throw a bunch of clichés together, mix in a few proverbs for good measure and lo and behold you have a novel! And then you have a choice – to e-publish it for free or, even better, go to a vanity press where they’ll gladly slap your drivel between the covers of a paperback and charge you thousands of dollars for your masterpiece!

A friend of a friend did just that. According to her author page on Amazon, she had never enjoyed reading for pleasure until one day she borrowed (not bought) two romance novels, read them, decided telling a story wasn’t rocket science and wrote a book of her own. Her work of art is available for the low low cost of $8.04 for the e-book or $23.49 for the paperback. Surprisingly, it hasn’t sold much.

While fools and their money are indeed easily separated, I find it scary to know that there are even more determined writers publishing their crappy wares for free. How does one sift through the chaff?  How many first chapters must one read before finding something worth paying $2.99 for?

I remember spending hours scanning the shelves at the book store as a teenager, looking for a cover or a title that sparked my interest. I could leave the store with my purchase reasonably sure there was something of quality in that molded plastic bag with the store’s logo printed on it. Now even the fact that a book has a publisher isn’t a guarantee that it might be worth buying, unless it’s from one of the big five.

Is there a trick to finding quality in published works that I’m not seeing? Or is it really like searching a needle-stack for a piece of hay?

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20 thoughts on “Q is for Quality

  1. I do not & will not discount or give away may published work. I price my books according to the value (i.e. Creativity, Hard Work & Effort) which I put into them.
    My books therefore are not the low cost option because my readers are buying high quality content.
    If a book is free, .99c or £2.99 for a full length novel, then the author of that work clearly has either devalued their work, themselves, or the quality of the book will be crap.
    Readers should understand that good quality books, premium books may cost more, but are far better value ultimately. Just like most things in life, buy cheap, get cheap.

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    • I don’t know about that – the “experts” at Amazon suggest a price of $2.99 for most self-published works. Charging a higher price can mean lack of any recognition. It’s also a common practice to do short giveaways. Do you have any opinion on those?
      Pricing is a tricky business, especially for an unknown writer.

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    • I read your post and was going to comment there, but I don’t want to come across as argumentative on your blog without the benefit of my own post which I’d like to reference. Here’s my comment:
      In the example I gave in my blog post, a price tag for an e-book of $8 was put on an utter piece of crap – she changed tenses three times in the first paragraph alone, described the front of a store as having a “pitcher window,” and doesn’t understand the difference between “than” and “then.” My point is, price is not necessarily a true indicator of quality in either direction. So again I ask, how do you choose a good book?

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  2. The best thing is to read some of it BEFORE spending your hard earned cash!
    Amazon has ‘look inside’.
    Sneak Peek (https://takeasneakpeak.wordpress.com/), has excepts from all the books they list.
    Just DON’T judge a book by it’s cover!!
    Then there is the matter of subjectivity…not everybody like all styles or narratives, Stories can be so personal can’t they?
    Oh, and as for price. I agree it is not a guarantee of a good read, but it should be an indication.
    Discussion and varying views are not argumentative but stimulating and educational, As I said in my blog….I don’t bite…at least not until I am asked to!

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    • Yes, it was the sneak peek where I read the first chapter of this particular book. Essential indeed.
      Kind of funny that the link you pasted here has a misspell in it.
      Thanks for your understanding, Paul. Tone of “voice” is not something easy to transcribe on the internet. 🙂

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  3. I don’t think price has anything to do with quality. I’m not entirely convinced it ever did. I like that publishing is no longer the domain of the few but that does mean a whole lot of crap has been unleashed. Read what you can before you buy.

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  4. Price has nothing to do with quality in my opinion. I’ve read great books that cost 99p and terrible ones for six or seven times that. If you’re self-publishing, you’re setting your own price and you may have an inflated opinion of your worth. Unfortunately I don’t think there is a fail safe way to ensure that you’re buying something of quality, which is why a lot of readers, reasonably, don’t want to pay more that a couple of pounds (or dollars). I do think though that the Look Inside feature helps. You can normally get a fair idea of how the book’s going to pan out. Great post btw 🙂

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  5. Only if the author becomes popular can he or she sell books at a higher price. Having said that it doesnt mean that the books would have any literary value or everyone would like it, they might just as well be junk!

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