Bad Self-Published Books

Obviously, I’m a self-publishing advocate, but I can acknowledge that there are some hilariously bad self-published books out there.  Thankfully, they haven’t come my way in the form of submissions.  Maybe my reviews have been too critical, but it’s my experience it’s the people who write the better books who are the most obsessed with marketing – see Kristen Tsetsi and Frank Daniels.  So maybe the people who write more-ridiculous titles don’t send their books out that often.

Thankfully there are sites like Selfpublishedbooks.info, which is a kind of anti-Self-Publishing Review, as it only lives to mock self-published titles.  I suppose I could be offended by this, but there’s no denying the inherent ridiculousness of a lot of self-published books.  Then again, when you look back at books that were published traditionally in the past, they look ridiculous too.  In short, there are many books that are ridiculous, whoever puts them out.

Still, I would have to imagine that some of the books on that site are written by people who don’t take themselves too seriously, such as:

At least, I hope that author doesn’t take himself seriously.  Then there’s:

The first paragraph of the forward reads (major sic):

Writing a book is an easy task. You can tell this from the thousands of books that are written every. But writing a good book is a difficult task.

Precisely.  Those two books are both published by Lulu (where I printed myself).  Unfortunately, when you type bad self-published books into Google, Lulu comes up first.  There are probably a lot more where that came from, but thankfully the person who runs that site looks through these books so I don’t have to.

  • Ironically, some of the worst self-published books are those that try to encourage others to self-publish.

    David Rising’s “Best in Self Publishing & Print on Demand” is an over-priced piece of crap (136 pages for $19.95).

    37 pages (TWENTY-SEVEN PERCENT) are instructions on using Lulu to publish your book. Lulu published this book, and I’m not impressed. The same information is available from Lulu, for free.

    There’s more un-original book padding including eight pages from Dan Poynter that are available for free on Dan’s website and six pages from Audrey Owen that are also available online for free. There’s also an interview with Richard Paul Evans by Carolyn Campbell that takes up 10 pages. It too, is available as an online freebie. Rising even reprints unedited advertising for publishing services, such as five self-serving pages from Lotus Books.

    There’s more padding that doesn’t use words. Spacing between paragraphs is consistently inconsistent, with large blocks of white space and some silly pictures showing up for no particular reason.

    Rising’s writing style is amateurish and definitely not ready for print. His up-front disclaimer speaks to “you, the reader.” Who could “you” be other than the reader? On the same page, Rising says, “…could result with…” It should be “could result in.” Apparently Rising believes that an automated spell-checker is a substitute for a copy editor. It isn’t. The very first sentence of his introduction has a stupid error: “level playing field for all participates.” That’s not a spelling error; it’s the wrong word! Rising also has bad grammar: “There isn’t going to be thousands of unsold books…” and …”there is always one or two…” and “Don’t be afraid you’ll not lose anything…” He also says, “…your writing should at least see the light as for getting published… and “whether you see sells of any significance.” I have no idea what he is talking about. There are many more examples, but I’ll spare you the agony. If I typed more, I’d puke on my keyboard.

    Rising does give some good advice, such as hiring experts when necessary. Unfortunately he was too blind, stupid or broke to heed his own advice. One of the funniest examples is, “…you’ll soon see how easy it is to over look mistakes…” Hey genius, it should be overlook (one word). On the other hand, he spells “subtitle” as “sub title” (two words).

    The typography is atrocious. Some pages are set justified, some are flush left and ragged right — depending on where Rising copied the text from. Some paragraphs start with an indent, some start with a skipped line, and some have neither an indent nor a skipped line.

    Rising doesn’t understand arithmetic, or at least he doesn’t explain it well. He says, “Lulu only charges you 20% commission on your profits. So, for any product you sell on the site you get 80% profit.” In the real world, an 80% profit means that something costs you 20 cents and you sell it for a buck, so your (gross) profit is 80 cents, and 80% of the sale. Rising should have said “80% OF THE profit,” not “80% profit.” There can be a huge difference.

    Even the index is stupid, apparently assembled by a robot with no common sense. Before the “A” topics we have lists of topics beginning with the dollar sign, and with the numbers three and seven. If you want to find the page where Rising discussed “$34.95,” or “72DPI” you’ll love his index.

    The front cover screams, “How to Get Published Free.” The apparently important word “free” is not indexed, and I couldn’t find anything about free book publishing in this book. I didn’t actually expect to lean how to publish for free — certainly not on paper — but I was cynically curious to find out what Rising had to say about it.

    This is the only book I can recall that says nothing about its author. Maybe that’s because there is nothing in the author’s education or experience that he can claim qualifies him to write about the topic.

    I’m a strong supporter of freedom of the press. Until now, I’ve firmly believed that any writer should be able to publish anything. However, after buying this slim and nearly worthless volume, I might be willing to consider a licensing requirement for writers. I have no doubt that David Rising would fail the test.

    I would expect more from the head of a publishing company, but on the second page of the foreword to “Self Publishing Simplified,” Outskirts Press boss Brent Sampson refers to “off-set” printing, with a hyphen between the “off” and the “set.” The term also appears on four other pages in the book. That’s a really stupid error, especially for a book publisher. The correct term is “offset,” and it’s been that way for over 100 years.

    On his company’s website, Sampson urges writers to use an editor and he says, “Errors in your writing cause readers to question your credibility.” I question his.

    The book has a foreword written by Sampson — which goes against the book publishing rules I’ve learned. Forewords are not supposed to be written by the author. Sampson should have called it a preface or an introduction or hired someone else to write the foreword.

    According to Sampson, “Peter Mark first published the Thesaurus in 1852,” strangely ignoring the much more famous Peter Roget who published his Thesaurus in the same year. Actually Mark was the middle name of Peter Mark Roget, so Sampson was two-thirds right.

    He also says getting an ISBN number (the unique identification number for each book) is a “headache.” Sorry, Brent, that’s just not true. I ordered five ISBNs in about five minutes. All I needed was my keyboard and a credit card. I never touched the Tylenol bottle.

    Sampson also talks about the troubles that “Most self-published authors” have getting their books distributed, the high percentages paid to Amazon, and the high costs of setting up websites. That’s self-serving fiction designed to make his own company look good and he can’t possibly know the experiences of “most…”

    DIstribution through online booksellers is trouble-free, Amazon will work on as little as a 10% markup, and a website can cost zero to set up an less than ten bucks per month to keep going.

    These silly errors and outright deceptions do not inspire confidence in Sampson or his company.

  • Hmmn, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were trying to denigrate a competitor. But yes, I’m about to review a book about self-publishing, which isn’t terrible, but doesn’t really provide information you can’t find 1000 other places.

  • I don’t know – I think a really fun addition to this site could be a “random self-publishing selection” segment. Like, you arbitrarily (or, less arbitrarily) choose a self-published book from any number of the self-publishing sites and simply copy the first paragraph.

    Ooh…now I wish I had a website like this so I could do it myself.

    Will you will you??

  • Heheheheh. Perhaps it’s unprofessional of me, but I’d enjoy a feature like that myself. Most bad self-published books simply get ignored, and the writers of said books never find out whether this was due to bad marketing, bad writing, or both. If they see reputable sites pointing out the flaws in unedited books, maybe they’ll take us seriously when we tell them to get copyediting already.

  • Self publishing has gotten a bad rap because of people like Dave. When my first book comes out I will check two, three, four and five times to make sure everything is perfect and even hire some people to copy edit and offer suggestions. Why don’t many self published writers do that? I mean all writers have their handicaps,thats life. But doesn’t the reader deserve his or her VERY best?