Category Archives: Books

Readers Like Progress or Why It’s Okay Your First Book Is Mediocre

I’ve never much been into the “writing/author” scene until recently, where it’s become a bit of a necessity. I’m in the process of getting my first finished novel together to self publish in the Spring, so I’ve been looking at blogs, seeing other authors’ trials and tribulations, and getting a feel for the community I’m stepping into.

Some of what I’ve found has been encouraging and supportive, the other half turns my stomach.

There is a huge voice on the traditional publishing side that I absolutely can not stand behind or support–at all. In fact, it almost creates an anger that boils up in my chest and makes me want to shout at them and try and figure out what’s wrong with them.

This doesn’t apply to everyone, of course. No, I’m talking to the traditionally published authors who have this attitude that there are some books that shouldn’t even be written. It’s this attitude where if a book isn’t perfect, and/or live up to a certain standard–not only should it never be published, but it shouldn’t have been written in the first place.

This attitude…I don’t get it. It literally boggles my mind and makes me wonder what sort of person could say such a thing when they too were probably horrible writers at one point in time.

It’s like the people who hate on NaNoWriMo, even though at it’s core it’s a Non-Profit group encouraging kids to write. Why would you hate on that? NaNoWriMo is an event that’s for fun. It never claims to be the way to write or how you should go about churning out novels. It’s a marathon to raise money for kids. Stop bashing on it.

But that’s a soap box for another day. Today’s lesson is the below:

Readers Like To See Progress

I’m coming at this from an art perspective–and as far as I’m concerned: Writing is part of the arts, so this should apply. I’ve been publishing a comic regularly since 2007, I’ve gone from a handful of readers to about 2000 returning readers by mostly word of mouth and volunteered linking (aka almost no promotion on my part comparatively).

And if you’ve been reading along, you’ll notice that there’s been a definite growth in the quality of my artwork and writing as I’ve updated regularly:

2007-12-02 - WaM Strip #12

2007-12-02 - WaM Strip #12

2011-11-18 - WaM Strip #599

2011-11-18 - WaM Strip #599

Do people say “You should have never posted those first strips! They’re horrible!” No. I hear “Wow! You’ve come a long way!” or “I just started at the beginning of your archive and read it twice!” I have readers who joined at the beginning and have kept reading for over four years. That’s the kind of readership you want. Would I have that readership if I had hidden my comics away until I was ‘professional’?

No, because I still wouldn’t be posting anything.

I’m a reader myself, as well, and I love seeing how art has progressed in the comics I read.  And that goes for books as well. I’m currently reading a book for a friend that’s she’s been working on for years, and I can see the progress in the writing as the book goes on. Does that mean she should have given up on it at the start? No. (Granted, it’s a bit different as her work is quite good from the start, but I STILL see it improve as it goes on!)

My editor gets excited just how much I’ve improved since I’ve started writing my own novel for the past few months. You see where this is going?

I don’t see the point in writing nine books no one will ever see, just to show off the tenth. I want to see the nine before it. I want to see you grow. I want to be that fan that grows with you. That’s what fandom is. That’s what’s fun. And that’s how you get a loyal readership.

One loyal fan for a mediocre book is worth more than nine books that never see the light of day to get that tenth one out that still might never be seen or read.

Professionals Go Through It Too, And Readers STILL Love to See it.

Okay, still don’t have you, do I? You want an example of where someone made money, right? Well how about this one! Minekura Kazuya is an amazing author. I love her work to bits and pieces. Now go compare some of her early Saiyuki stuff with her later Saiyuki Reload & Gunlock artwork. Or compare Rob Liefeld’s first run with Hawk and Dove from the 80’s with his current Hawk & Dove work. There is a change in his artwork for the better. You’re going to notice progress and a decent shift in style no matter what or who you’re reading.

I can’t think of a single artist or author who hasn’t gone through this no matter what level you’re at–there’s a reason that “Redraw It Years Later” meme is so popular on Deviantart for both mediocre and amazing artists alike. Readers love seeing the progress! It grows, it changes, and it won’t happen if someone doesn’t read it.

So What Does This Mean?

Write your book. Even if it’s bad. Write it.

Someone will like it and read it. Even if it’s a friend reading it because they like you. You just have to find them. That someone will stick with you when you put out your next book, and the next. By your third book? They’ll probably have snagged a friend in on it, and your writing is bound to have improved. Which means they’ll share it more, or catch a new eye. Continue. You improve. You gain readers. You improve more. You gain more readers. Rinse, repeat, & so forth.

It’s a slow process, that could take years even, but one or two loyal readers who love your book makes it worth it. Even if just one person likes your book–it’s been worth it. Your book deserved to be written and distributed.

What This Doesn’t Mean

That you shouldn’t put effort into it. The key here is to do your best. Get someone to proof read it for you. There’s unskilled, and then there’s lazy. Make the effort to get it right and checked. If you can pay an editor? Do that, too. If you can’t? Take that extra time to print it out and go through it with a pen yourself. Same goes for the cover if you can’t hire it out. Don’t just slap it together.

If you’re serious about writing for a living, than make sure to put double the effort into it. Grow and learn as you write and take your fans with you. Be social, be kind and learn to have a tough skin–it’s an ugly market for the self-published right now. The important part is to learn, and not give up.

If you’re just in it for the fun? There are plenty of sites out there where you can just post your writing for free from Deviantart to Fictionpress. Have some fun with it and make sure that you’re reading, too!

The Money

This is where most of the complaints come in and this stigma that all Self-Published books aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. That it’s not even worth it if you distribute it for free. That the slush pile will rule all and nothing good will come out of it and yadda, yadda, yadda.

As someone who has read amateurish, unprofessional writing for fun on more than one occasion (Read: Most Fanfiction), I can tell you this is bull. Even a poorly written book can be fun if you come at it with the right mindset. I’ve read absolutely horrible written stories that I either couldn’t finish, or managed to put a smile on my face once or twice–so it can happen.

And let’s face it, most traditionally published worth aren’t what they’re charging either, and I still paid for it. I bought a romance book recently where the ebook was priced the same as the paperback for $7.99. Do I think it was worth $7.99? No. It was a light novel I read off and on in a couple of days. That’s worth $2 to $3 for me.

Do I think an amateur ebook is worth $0.99 just for the effort it took to put the words down & have someone proof read it? Yes. Even if the book is awful, it was worth that $0.99. You could do worse with a dollar.

I do have one correlation though: If you don’t use an editor or a proof reader, give your first few books away for free until you learn to properly edit yourself or learn basic rules to keep readers from being confused by your writing. If you can’t take the effort to find at least one person to go through and make sure you’ve dotted your i’s and ended all your sentences with a period, then I find it hard to make the effort to give you $0.99 (which is why I also check samples).

If you do take the time and effort to get an editor, a cover artist, and a proof reader–and your book is still mediocre? Go ahead and charge the $0.99-$2.99 for your first book. That’s worth it to me, just for going the extra mile. If by the time you’re on your third and forth book, you have a small audience, go ahead and bump the price up to the $3.99-$4.99 range. I think that’s fair, personally.

Besides, that’s what samples are for. Use them. Love them. No one’s forcing you to read anything.

But Liliy! I don’t see YOU reading and rating any of those mediocre Self Published books you seem to claim are okay! What’s the deal!?

Partly, it’s because I’m currently trying to get through the books I already own. I have a nasty habit of buying a book and never reading it, physical or digital. My New Year’s Resolution for 2012 is to put a dent in that list, and goodreads is definitely helping me get there (and honestly, there’s at least a shelf load of books I haven’t added. I’m horrible, I know…).

After that? Yeah, sure. If I see a book that sparks my interest, I’ll read it. Mind you, I’ll probably let you know if your writing is poor or if it’s riddled with typos in the review. I’ll also let you know if your story was hard to follow, or read. Why? Because that is one major difference between art and writing: It’s not difficult to look at artwork at any level, where poor writing can make it difficult to read.

But the point will still stand that I still read it.

It’s sort of like having beta readers after publishing. You listen to truthful critique and you either shrug it off and keep as you’re going, or take the review for what it is, improve and look forward to the day someone says “Wow! This is so much better!”

Besides, I’d rather waste my time with a mediocre written novel in a genre that I love with characters that are fun, than read a polished, ‘gatekeeper approved’ novel about a plot line I can’t get into.

The Bottom Line

Never say a book doesn’t deserve to be written.

That’s like saying because your artwork doesn’t meet professional standards, you shouldn’t upload it to Deviantart and share it. If you did your best, and are proud of it–good or bad, you haven’t wasted your time.

The attitude needs to change. Authors need to encourage writers to work and share, and grow. That’s how we learn, it’s how we get better, and the real bottom line? No one’s forcing you to read it.

Don’t discourage someone when no one is forcing you to read their book. Don’t be needlessly cruel.

Let them progress!

Roberto and Jacqueline by =liliy on deviantART

Parting Words

Have a self published novel that you’d think I’d like? Drop a comment or an @GreyLiliy on Twitter. :) If it’s something I think is interesting I’ll give it a go! (Or at least add it to the ever growing queue…)

Goodreads is Love

No fangirl post this week. I haven’t bought any comics (Hawk and Dove is next week gosh darn it! *noms*), and I haven’t really watched any movies or anything.

Instead, I’ve been reading.

As you may have noticed, I’ve stopped listing books on my fangirl posts. Why? Because I have a Goodreads account and I hate cross-posting. XD

Why is Goodreads great? I shall list them:

  • Keeps track of my books
  • Has a huge selection, and lets you see multiple editions of the same book
  • Status updates
  • The ability to comment on reviews and status updates
  • The ability to see other people/friend’s status updates and books
Of those features, the Status updates is my favorite. When I stop reading, I pull out my Droid, type in the % that I stopped in the Goodreads app and it keeps track of my reading progress. I can actually see how long it took me to finish a book.
This has been amazing for cutting down my backlog. I’ve read more books thanks to this reminding me “You haven’t touched this book in a while” than having a literal stack of them next to my bed. Love it.
I do have a few nitpicks though:
  • All the commenting stuff does me no good if no one is on the site.
Unfortunately, I only have like 5 friends….and none of them update anything. *sniff* I’m missing out on all the interaction goods!
But that’s minor.
I still love this site. <3
You can check out my profile here & see all the books I’m reading! :D
Or you know, be my friend or something. *cough*

Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Movie 4)

Alright, it’s that time again – Twilight Time. Oh yeah. I wanted to see it the day it came out…but I was drawing WaM. Go figure.

I’m sure you figured out by now, that while the books are kinda’ bad, I’m a fan of the movies. I really like the movies. I will probably buy a box set when the fifth one is finally out. I admit it.

The movie is basically the same as the book, so my earlier review still applies more or less, even if I wrote it oh, a year and some ago.

I love Bella’s Dad & Jacob. I swear, I go to these movies to see those two act. Billy Burke needs to be in more films. The man’s hilarious and absolutely perfect for the role of Charlie. Or maybe I just need to see more of the movies he is in. One of the two.

Actually, all the parents and grandparents in this movie are great. The side cast of Twilight are all awesome and talented. :D

And Taylor Lautner is still the best of them, and he works well as Jacob. And since Jacob is my favorite character, book or movie, I wish him well in the future once the Twilight films are done.

As for book scenes to movie scenes, the wedding was great, the honey moon was funny, and the birth of the kid went about the same as the book…probably worse. But I excepted that as there was no possible way to make the scene in the book transfer to film and not have it be horrible. It was horrible in the book. There was no saving it.

At least the imprinting thing with Jacob wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Yay Jacob. Actually, there could have been a lot more of Jacob. All of his book scenes were really slimmed down for the film. Which is depressing since those were probably the best parts of the book.

I also look forward to the ‘Nessie’ scene in movie 2.

But all of that was pointless because by this point, I’m sure you’ve made up your mind about Twilight long ago. :D

Liliy is a Fangirl #9

I should seriously just start doing these on Wed. when new comics come out. XD


Finally saw the first Planet of the Apes Film (With Heston) & rewatched the Burton film. I still like the Burton version more. Leo x Ari. Yes. <3


Just read my goodreads page. XD I put everything there.


Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi (World’s Greatest First Love) – This is a Boy’s Love series by the same team that did Junjou Romantica – and it shows. It’s not often you find a full series Boy’s Love that has quality animation, is genuinely hilarious, and has such a great cast. <3 I’m loving Season 2!

And I really need to catch up with Blue Exorcist. XD



Aquaman: Mera is awesome~ I think the best part about Aquaman is his wife – and the fact they’re a superhero tag team. Ha ha. Though, they’re still going on with the ‘Aquaman is a loser’ jokes, and now it’s “AquaWoman” or whatever they’re calling Mera. XD Anyway, good issue – lots of action and Aquaman is still adorable.  He sort of reminds me of a down home, county sherriff.

Superman: Redeemed itself from last issue. The invisible monster fight was great~ And it had a great twist at the end that got Jimmy and Lois into the action. This saved it from the drop pile. XD

Flash: Another good issue. Not quite as good as the first one, but still up there. :)

I will ship them out of spite.

Teen Titans: They  need to back off the Tim x Cassie – like a lot. It is way too early for that. I know they’re just hinting at it, and I know that they dated, but still. (I won’t deny, this is the hardcore Superboy x Wonder Girl shipper in me talking.) But enough of that. They’re still introducing new people and it’s…well, this is always my least favorite part of a series. So I’m working through it.

Also, a little bothered that Bart is reminding me more and more of Wally West from the new Young Justice TV Series than he is Bart Allen. He just doesn’t seem to have that same innocent idiocy going for him…hmm.

At least Skitter is cool. <3


Misleading Advert Blog Posts

Be forewarned: This post may delve into rant territory, but I shall do my best to avoid mentioning names/specific examples. (Granted, if you’ve looked into this subject, I’m sure you’ve seen plenty…)

I hate blog posts that claim to be ‘How-To’s’ or ‘Guides’ in the title that turn out to be nothing more than advertisements for another product.

The novel I’ve been working on is coming ever closer to that fateful moment where it hits the self-published shelves, and as such I’ve been reading a lot of author/book/publishing blogs for advice, tips, etc. A great deal of it’s been really helpful and informative, and I’ve discovered a few authors that have been tacked on my To-Read list.

But every once in a while, you see that blog title that says something along the lines of “How to-” or “Mistakes not to make-” or something comparable–only to discover the blog post is just an advert to send you to a book or podcast that they wrote on the subject.

This has successfully created a new pet-peeve of mine.

Don’t get me wrong, if people want to write self-help books and advertise them: that’s awesome. It is, and I wish them all the luck with making money and getting the word out using their advise and experience in a much more in-depth format.

Just make it clear you’re advertising a book – in the title.

Good blogs, are informative (or entertaining). That’s the point of wanting to read them and some people are doing this very, very well. The content of their posts are what’s stated in the title – yay!

Others, not so much. When your title is (just an example): “How to Publish on Kindle” – I expect some tips and advise on how to publish a book on a Kindle, not an outline summary of the book you’re selling. I feel like I’ve been cheated. Is it a good marketing strategy to get hits? Sure. Does it work? I think no–mostly because I’m so aggravated it’s another internet ad in disguise that I don’t even click the book link on principle. I don’t like feeling aggravated.

How do you fix this? Call it out in the title: “A How To Book On Publishing With Kindle.” Or Even “New Book To Help With Kindle” or something. Make it catchy, but make sure it’s obvious your blog post is advertising a book in some way.

Don’t make me think I’m going to read a blog post with informative content when there is none.

Thank you.

On a side tangent – Authors who blog? Please, please stop mentioning your own books over and over again in your posts. Especially if it’s the same book in every post. I know your’e sharing your personal stories, but it starts to just feel like a name drop after a while. Even if your articles are great and informative, it gets tedious seeing that same book and cover over and over and over. Advertise your books in the side column; I know you wrote them.

Ah, ranting complete.