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I hope this isn't how people think of ALL self-published books.

So... in the past, I've tried not to be too critical when I've reviewed other self-publishers' books.  It's not that I think they need to be treated with kid gloves - it's just that I somehow feel like a hypocrite tearing into their work when I know that I'm also skipping over the "quality control" steps of traditional publishing.

But every once in awhile, I read something so terrible that I just can't hold back.  Especially when I find out that the work in question is somehow popular.


Recently I started reading - note that I said "started" and not "finished" - The Gemini Effect, by Chuck Grossart.  It won Amazon's breakthrough novel award in 2014, so I figured it would at least be an interesting read.

Ugh.  This is some of the most tedious prose I've ever slogged through.  It's not that it's poorly written from a stylistic or mechanical sense - it's just that every page is dripping with self-serving, beat-you-over-the-head-with-it, I-take-myself-seriously-even-when-I'm-on-the-can gravity.  I couldn't make it past the first six chapters.

Actual excerpts:

Mother Nature was funny that way.  Complex.  Unpredictable.  And unforgiving as hell if you fucked around with her.

Nature had been fucked with.  And Mother was pissed.

Really?  People read that and somehow were able to take the book seriously enough to keep reading?  Really?!

You're writing a book about zombies and biologically-engineered super soldiers!  Lighten up, buddy!  Reading this book is like flipping through a catalog of nu metal album covers.

I'll probably try to go back to this at some point.  Maybe I'll even write a proper review if I ever finish.  But in the meantime, I'm fretting with self doubt again.  Is this the kind of quality people expect when they learn a book is self-published?

I keep thinking about other self-published books that managed to break out.  Fifty Shades of Grey, for example.  It seems they're well-known for successfully pandering to a specific sub-sub-subgroup of people with specific interests, but rarely ever do you hear about somebody who's beloved for being a good writer.  Add to that the inherent self-aggrandizing nature of doing it all on your own, and you pretty much have a recipe for autofellatio - but not even the interesting kind, just the boring kind that you see and think, "You don't have to rub it in my face, dickhead."

Then I go back to my book and I wonder.  It doesn't have a terribly unique premise, or - as I only recently found out - that unique a title.  Do people see the cover and suspect the same self-serious vanity of me?

Sigh.  Guaranteed humility available now for only $2.99.

All the Other Nonsense That Got Pushed Off the Main Page (Post Archive)

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