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Old 28th Nov 2009, 2:06   #111
JunkMonkey
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Default Re: Worst self published books

There should be - and when I am World President for Life there will be - laws to prevent cruelty to readers. Some sort of extension to the Sale of Goods Act which would make it an offence to produce substandard books.

Just as we have laws to prosecute food manufacturers who sell contaminated or mislabelled food, and stringent safety laws to stop unscrupulous manufacturers selling ill-made and dangerous machines, and building controls to stop our houses and offices from becoming death traps, there should be laws to prevent people just calling themselves 'publishers', printing a load of words on pieces of paper, sticking them together and calling it a book.

If you make food to sell you are obliged to make sure the ingredients you use, and what you finally produce, are fit to eat. Car manufacturers have to make their cars out of components which fit in the holes they're supposed to fit into and will survive the stresses the vehicle puts on them. Okay I know I'm on slightly dodgy ground with the cars there but you know what I mean; the bits that make up a thing are important. And it's important to get the right bits in the right places - or whatever you are making will just turn into junk.

If I buy a tin of Ravioli (yum yum!), open it, and instead of the delicious, mouth-watering tomatoey sauce I was expecting, I find it's full of fish-heads I'd be banging off a snotty letter to Lord Tesco before the tin opener had hit the table. Same with a car. If I drive it out of the forecourt only to find the gearbox is full of baked beans and the transmission is made out of Stickle Bricks then I want a replacement, and compensation for emotional distress - and out of pocket expenses, thank you very much.

When I get a book home and find it is riddled with typos, grammatical errors, misplaced apostrophes, confused homophones, stylistic inconsistencies and all the rest, where do I go to complain? How do I get my money back? I can't.

I'm not talking about contents of the book here: the story, the style, the characterisation, realism of the dialogue, depth of the writer's research and all the other literary stuff. I'm not wanting a refund because I maybe thought the plot was obvious and I hated all the characters. I want to be able to take it back and get a refund because the people responsible for making sure the book is fit to read haven't done their jobs properly. I'd want a refund because a book was littered with misplaced (or unplaced) apostrophes, because usually hyphenated words were left unhyphenated, because sometimes speeches are wrapped in double quotes - sometimes in single quotes - sometimes missing them altogether, because the bookmaker didn't care that 'the dye is cast' is wrong, didn't care that 'they're', 'their', and 'there' are not interchangeable, that it's not right to say 'its not right', that people don't grab each other 'round the waste', that 'rattlesnake' is one word....

Academic Octagon is such a book. Published by Local Legend it is a first novel. I'm not going to comment on the story, it's not very good and not very well written but my ire here - and I am bloody angry - is directed at the people who let this go to a printers in the state that is in. After a while I gave up noting down all but the most horrible gaffes:

'Farewells were filled with emotion as each youth said there goodbyes.' - Pg 175

'Now lets role our sleeves up; the centre is across the green.' - Pg 171

'Thinking they could buy his forgiveness was just in their nature as our Father was one wrung below the almighty profit, which was revered above omnipotent beings.' - Pg 152 'Profit' is correct here, he's talking about putting money above God, but 'wrung'? and even a dyed in the wool atheist like me knows that He likes to have His pronouns with a capital letter.

'They not only interact, their clannish.' - Pg 118

'...caves that gave off a feint glow' - Pg 114

'...gave blood samples, retina scans and finger prints before they...'
'...retina scans and fingerprints were taken...' - both Pg 111

The proofreading here is shockingly bad. Incredibly inconsistent too. 'Finger prints' and 'fingerprints' within 20 lines of each other on the same page. The word 'classmates' gets used a lot in this book, or should that be 'class-mates' with a hyphen? Both appear on the same page (Pg 54) only seven lines apart (and as chance would have it both at the start of the lines. It's unmissable.) A few pages later (Pg 66) we get 'class mates' without a hyphen. Come on guys, make your bleedin' minds up! Sadly this trend of the words to drift ever further apart didn't continue. I was looking forward to 'class___________________ mates' by the end of the book.

'Her stomach was beginning to heave and she wretched.' (Pg 43) - I know how you feel, love.

This stuff needs editing out. It needs fixing before it gets to the printers. This is Stickle Bricks in my Ravioli and car parts made out of marzipan. When I go for a ride in a car I don't want to have to try and figure out why it's making a clunking noise and stopping every few seconds. I just want the bugger to go. When I read a book I don't want to have to decipher the sentences on the page because no one bothered to lift the bonnet and check the author's punctuation:

"Which means your enemies will think long and hard before they strike, but they will strike my son." (Pg 176)

They will strike her son? But she's talking to her son.... I'm... wait...? what...?
Oh well, yeah I can see what yer problem is. It's yer punctuation innit. No bleedin' commas. That's what's wrong here. Hang on I'll give it a whack. Right. Try it now.
"Which means your enemies will think long and hard before they strike, but they will strike, my son." (Pg 176)

Ah that's a lot better. Thanks, sentence repair bloke. (It's a good job I pay for roadside recovery.)

I came across this book on a, now removed, thread over at the ssfworld forum. A newbie (who turned out eventually to be the author's cousin) posted one of those: 'I've recently read a book called... has anybody else read?' posts that low print-run, first time authors seem to spawn all over the place.
Originally Posted by JunkMonkey
On Amazon at the moment Academic Octagon has two gushing reviews, one from Anne Johnson* who has only reviewed this book - always a good indicator that the author, or their best friend, has written it and one from Beth Roberts who has written 14 Amazon reviews - all 14 of which have been for books published by Local Legend Publishing.
It's a pity Beth Roberts doesn't mention in her reviews for any of these books that she is almost certainly the Beth Roberts who is the 'Editor/Proprietor' of Local Legend Publishing.

A few exchanges later with the regulars about the usual awfulness of self-published books, the author pops up, and tells us he had to go 'through all the hoops including a huge critique' before his book was published and Local Legend wasn't a vanity press.

A few posts later on and the publisher herself turns up, very upset about all the 'extremely rude' things we were saying about her and her business. (I think those are the 'extremely rude' things quoted up there ^ - nobody else had mentioned her in the thread up till this point.) And that she spends a lot of 'time money and resources into bringing each manuscript to publication' - and that she worked her socks off 'up to nineteen hours a day (and usually seven days a week)'.
Originally Posted by JunkMonkey
I don't think anyone here has been rude about you or your company, Beth. I did point out that you have written 14 reviews of books on Amazon - all of which you published. And I think I'm right in saying that at no point in any of these 'reviews' did you mention that you had a interest (financial or otherwise) in production or success of them. This is the sort of 'sales technique' which gives the self / small publishing business the tawdry image it currently enjoys.
The 'up to nineteen hours a day' bit is really impressive though - always bearing in mind that 'up-to' includes zero. When does she, I wonder, manage to fit in the 'Past Life Regression' sessions, The 'Complete Mind Therapy' sessions and all the group therapy work which she advertises here:http://www.mansionsofthesoul.co.uk. Not to mention all the writing: It also turns out that 'Jenny Holmes' (author of seven of the 14 books published by Local Legend) is her pen name. http://www.mansionsofthesoul.co.uk/page_1218797545159.html
And she doesn't mention anywhere on the Local Legends site that she is also the 'Jenny Holmes' pictured, sat there at the book signing in Waterstones.

Whatever she is doing in those 'up to nineteen hours' I suspect it doesn't include much proofreading. Or maybe it does. Only five hours sleep a night? Might explain a lot.

The reason the thread over at ssfworld is no longer there is because the owners pulled the thread after a threat of 'legal action'. For what, and from whom, I don't know. But I do know I'm hardly likely to read another book published by Local Legend if this is the general standard of their finished product.




*Anne Johnson has since written another Amazon review which, not that amazingly, manages to mention another book in its 60 odd words. The book is called - go on... guess... )
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Last edited by JunkMonkey; 28th Nov 2009 at 17:54. Reason: Typos - and a couple of missing commas.
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Old 28th Nov 2009, 9:34   #112
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Default Re: Worst self published books

Well, first off, you get a huge nod of approval for mentioning Stickle Bricks.

That said, once again, JM, we are in your debt for putting up with crap so that we don't have to, and turning it into gold.

We have seen many sad and sorry 'publishing' nightmares here at the Palimp, and the saddest and sorriest aspect is usually that someone hasn't taken the author to one side and had a fair but firm word with them to say "stop wasting your time, energy and money on this, it's not for you".
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Old 28th Nov 2009, 21:08   #113
JunkMonkey
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Default Re: Worst self published books

http://thequietvoicewithin.blogspot....-contract.html
http://taminglupus.blogspot.com/
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Old 29th Nov 2009, 0:06   #114
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Default Re: Worst self published books

Presumably the first one should end, "And then I woke up."

Here is some sage advice for anyone considering self-publishing:

http://pimpmynovel.blogspot.com/2009...rt-2-of-5.html
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Old 29th Nov 2009, 0:10   #115
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Default Re: Worst self published books

"Please act wisely when purchasing." I couldn't have put it better myself.

http://thequietvoicewithin.blogspot....1_archive.html
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Old 29th Nov 2009, 9:51   #116
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Default Re: Worst self published books

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self View Post
Presumably the first one should end, "And then I woke up."

Here is some sage advice for anyone considering self-publishing:

http://pimpmynovel.blogspot.com/2009...rt-2-of-5.html
I'd say 99% of that is good advice. But the comment about "if you have tried your darndest and done everything possible and still not found...." etc, it means your book is not very good... well, I think it is Malorie Blackman (of teen series Noughts & Crosses, plus several other well-known books, and author of many) who has about 80 rejection letters for her initial work. Now that is clearly real persistence but I guess most people would have given up hope by an earlier stage and considered they had done everything possible. What if the successful submission came on the 84th attempt? A submission can be good but just not catch the (horrible word) zeitgeist. The latest thing in teen books would seem to be 'fallen angels'; there's a good current of Georgian/Victorian historical YA novels at the moment but none written in the C14th/C15th (as far as I know).
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Old 29th Nov 2009, 16:37   #117
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Default Re: Worst self published books

Given that self-publishing is on my thousand-strong list of pet hates, I read through this thread and now feel very sad.

But! To clarify the difference between self- and vanity-publishing - and I have to write this in language even I will understand...

With self-publishing, you pay for everything, yes, but the ISBN is legally yours and you keep all profits, such as they are. There's a vague chance you could make a profit and while all the work is yours, you have that hope. And if you so choose you can republish the same book with another self-publishing outfit. (Mainstreams wouldn't want you though, as you wouldn't be able to offer first rights).

Vanity publishers keep the ISBN and own the book. You sign away your legal right to it, the copyright and very possibly your mortal soul. Yes, you pay for everything but no, you don't keep the profits from any sales. The vanity press pays you a percentage.

Yep, that's right. You pay them to publish the book and they dole out pocket money occasionally, while retaining ownership of the book you wrote and which you paid them to print.

So while on the surface they appear the same - breaking YOG's law, that is - there's a difference from a legal point of view, who owns the book and whether you 'keep any profits' or 'are paid a percentage of same by the publishers'.
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Old 4th Dec 2009, 15:32   #118
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Default Re: Worst self published books

Now.

Where were we?
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Old 23rd Feb 2011, 14:52   #119
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Default Re: Worst self published books

If anyone is feeling a touch masochistic, there's a copy of Michael Berenti's The Berlin Protocol on eBay, finishing in just under a week.
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Old 30th Mar 2011, 11:18   #120
JunkMonkey
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Default Re: Worst self published books

How NOT to respond to criticism. A self-published author implodes before your very eyes.

http://booksandpals.blogspot.com/201...l#comment-form
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