Category Archives: Book Talk

Self-Publishing Explosion: Good or Bad for Readers?

Reading a Kindle in the beautiful sunshine.
Reading a Kindle in the beautiful sunshine. Used under Creative Commons License from tripu on Flickr:

I keep reading about the huge shift that’s happening in the publishing world, mainly due to the explosion of indie books. One figure said there are at least 3,500 books being published in the U.S. every day, and that figure isn’t complete because not all of the self-published books will have an ISBN and be counted.

Usually I hear discussions of what this means to authors—whether they can make more money self-publishing than with a traditional contract, whether they should jump on board the self-publishing train, how they should tackle the marketing.

But I started wondering…just what does this self-publishing explosion mean for readers, for the people who need to decide where to spend their precious book money?

Partially it depends on where you buy your books. If you still mainly get your books from a physical bookstore or a library, you may be missing the publishing revolution altogether. It’s still deadly hard for an indie author to get their work into those physical venues, for a variety of reasons. But if this describes you, did you know you’re in a very small minority—that most people buy their books online these days?

And the biggest retailer by far is, of course, Amazon.

So if you buy from Amazon or another online retailer—whether ebooks or print—you are now faced with far more reading choices than ever. Thousands more choices in any genre or style or cross-over than you could imagine. Self-published mingled with small presses mingled with traditional offerings from large houses—sometimes hard to tell apart unless you really do your research.

For you, the reader, is that good or bad? Again…it depends.

The very idea of all those self-published books out there, with no quality controls at all, just flung out there willy-nilly by anyone with a computer and the ability to type, may fill you with a nameless dread. They’re bound to be chock full of mistakes and bad writing, right? If they weren’t, their authors would get a real publishing contract, wouldn’t they?

I won’t lie. That’s probably true for some of the books out there. But let me ask you something. If you’ve mainly been reading the popular current fiction, or genre fiction put out by traditional houses, do you ever start to feel a little…let down? As though you’re reading the same thing over and over? Do those books ever seem a little bland and predictable?

As a reader myself, I had frankly been growing less and less enthusiastic about reading. I even noticed something strange I was starting to do. I would read a book all the way until the last couple of chapters and then quit. I wasn’t hating the book, and I had stuck with it that long. But there didn’t even seem any reason to read the last chapter, because without even reading it, I could tell you exactly what was going to happen to wrap things up.

As I started going to writers’ conferences—where we were warned about the evils of self-publishing and not “learning our craft”—one of the teachers on writing romantic suspense basically gave a laundry list of what a romantic suspense book must contain. (For example, the heroine has to be in a certain age range, and she must have an interesting profession.) In the climax, the heroine must be backed into a corner and her life endangered by the villain, and her hero must come to her aid, but she must not be passive. She should find a way to escape or to at least help overcome the villain. And then she and the hero come together in triumph and love.

Then I realized—that’s why I was putting those books down when I reached the predictable ending.

That’s also why my romantic suspense book, in which I tried to dash people’s expectations of the predictable ending, was getting turned down with suggestions for rewrites.

As blogger Jack Woe wrote, “A publisher’s job is to sell books. It’s safer to choose books that fit into the current trend than to take a chance, even though the chances tend to create trends when they’re successful…I don’t want to read the same story over and over and over again, only written by different authors. I want something new.”

Of course, as Hugh Howey points out, when you look at traditional vs. self-published books, you’re comparing “the tip of one iceberg (the books that made it through the gauntlet and into bookstores) with an entire iceberg (all self-published books).” In other words, readers now become the judges of what’s good and what they should read—but that means they’re faced with that huge slush pile that publishers usually wade through for them.

But there is more good news for readers. First of all, with Amazon ebooks, you can sample the books for free and check out whether the story grabs you, or whether it’s poorly written. Many times, you can get the whole book for free, or for a very low price. It’s a lot less of a commitment to sample and look for that one shining gem.

And instead of picking up a book in a store and seeing nothing but the blurbs and descriptions the publisher wanted to see, we now have reader reviews! If a book is poorly written, some reviewer is going to tell you so. And if a book can rise to the top of an Amazon list and be self-published, you know that book has something special, probably something new and refreshing, that’s grabbing readers’ attention.

So yes, as both a reader and an author, I’m excited about the new world of publishing.

What do you think? Have you read any self-published books? What have your reading experiences been—good or bad?

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Adam’s Animals: how you can help bring this book to life!

From Kimberley Payne's Christian children's book, Adam's AnimalsToday’s guest is children’s writer Kimberley Payne. She’ll be telling us about herself, her books, her newest project–and a way for you to get involved in its publication!

Tell us about yourself

I am an award-winning author and a member of The Word Guild, Inscribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship, and John 3:16 Marketing Network.

I combine my teaching experience and love of writing to create educational materials for mothers and children about family, fitness, science and faith.

Tell us about the book

My latest project is “Adam’s Animals,” a children’s activity book that features over 40 animals mentioned in the Bible and little-known facts about each. It is the second book in the Science and Faith Matters series. The first book, “Trees of the Book – Learning from God’s Creation,” is a colourful introduction to trees, leaves and their corresponding Bible stories.

Who is this book written for?

“Adam’s Animals” is ideal for 6 to 9 year olds, for home or school use and classroom sharing in grades 1-3 to supplement the Life Sciences Curriculum on Animal Life.

 What was your inspiration for this book?

Years ago, my daughter wrote a little book called, “Did you know…fascinating and fun facts about animals around the world” as a fundraiser to go to camp. I helped her with it and loved discovering new things about God’s creation.

Do you have a favorite animal and why that one?

I loved learning about the leopard. This big cat can climb trees, run fast, and swim. He’s powerful and smart. My kind of creature!

Did you find anything particularly difficult in writing this book?

There was a ton of research. Not only did I have to dig through the Bible to discover the animals mentioned, but then I had to research each individually to uncover five unusual facts.

What do you hope this book accomplishes?

I hope that “Adam’s Animals” will fuel the desire for children to read the Bible and to also learn more about the animals that God created.

Where can we find you?



Facebook page:


Kickstarter Campaign:

Short url for easy sharing:

Where can we find the book?

This is the exciting part! The book is still in manuscript form. I am hoping to bring the project to life with the direct support of friends, colleagues and family.

As the book creator, I have set a funding goal of $3500, with a deadline of February 28th, 2014. If you like my book idea, you can pledge any amount of money to make it happen.

As the book backer, you choose from a number of rewards based on the amount of financial support you pledge. For example, backers who pledge a minimum of $5, will receive a choice of one of two of my e-books: 1) Fit for Faith – 7 weeks to improved spiritual and physical health, OR 2) Women of Strength – a devotional to improve spiritual and physical health. Backers who pledge a minium of $15 will receive an autographed copy of “Adam’s Animals.” Backers who pledge a minimum of $175 will be listed on the “Dedication” page at the back of the book PLUS will receive an autographed copy of “Adam’s Animals.”

Backing “Adam’s Animals” is more than just giving money. Writers need encouragement and you would be supporting my dream of creating a valuable resource for children and parents.

To support the creation of “Adam’s Animals” please visit

Short url for easy sharing:

Here’s an excerpt from “Adam’s Animals”–the entry on the Ant (see illustration at top of page):

Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!”

See also:  Proverbs 30:25

The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, wrote the Book of Proverbs – a book of wise sayings to help us live godly lives. In this verse, Solomon points out that it is foolish to be idle and lazy. He says that we should learn from the example of the ant who doesn’t laze around and wait to be told what to do, but is willing to work hard and do what needs to be done.

Did you know?

  • Ants are from the insect family
  • Ants can lift 20 times their body weight
    • Ants have two stomachs – one to hold the food for itself and one to hold food to be shared with other ants
  • There are 3 kinds of ants in a colony: the queen, the female workers, and males
  • Ants communicate by using chemicals called pheromones
  • Ants don’t have ears but they “hear” by feeling vibrations in the ground

About the Author

Kimberley Payne is an award-winning self-published writer and a member of The Word Guild, Inscribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship, and John 3:16 Marketing Network. She has volunteered as a teacher with many children’s programs at her church, as a teacher’s aid for student’s reading, and within the library at her children’s school.  Kimberley combines her teaching experience and love of writing to create educational materials for children about family, fitness, science and faith.

Kimberley’s website   

About the Illustrator

The illustrator, Janis Cox, is an author, watercolour artist, wife, mother and grandma — but most of all she’s a faithful follower of Jesus. She’s been retired from teaching for over 15 years but finds herself back into her passion of working with children. Janis says, “I love painting pictures of animals and it will be a joy to create the illustrations for Kimberley’s new book. Plus working with Kimberley has always been exciting. Her enthusiasm always brings joy to my heart.”

Janis’ website 

About the Publisher

Diane Roblin-Lee is the owner of byDesign Media, a custom publishing company which specializes in beautiful layouts and cover designs. With over 30 years in the publishing industry, Diane has written several bestsellers herself and takes pride in being able to help other writers to get their books out to the world. Her tag line, “From Manuscript to Market,” covers the full spectrum of services, from editing and design, to publishing and international distribution. Helping her authors find pleasure and satisfaction in the publishing process is very important to Diane.

Diane’s website