Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Self Published Books

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down is a newish feature on my blog. If you are a loyal follower of my blog, you know that I put a big emphasis on interaction and discussion and my favorite posts are the ones with a lot of interaction. I also like a good healthy debate where opinions are shared and respected. You may also know that I like talking about random bookish things. Put all of that together and you get my inspiration for this new feature. Every other week I will give a topic to be discussed. You can give your vote on whether or not it is a thumbs up or a thumbs down for you and then explain why. The topics will cover anything related to reading, blogging, the book industry, etc. etc. Basically whatever is on my mind!

Last we discussed re-reading books and the majority voted a big thumbs up to re-reading! This week the topic is all about self-published books. This seems like a topic that new bloggers especially grapple with…I know I did. So, I want to know. Do you read self-published books or do you avoid them? Why? Do you get lots of requests for self-published books? Share any really good self-published books you’ve read. Do you think self-published = lesser quality? Let’s discuss!

My opinion:

I’m going to go with a thumbs down. I tend to not accept self-published books. I feel like most of the self-published books I’ve encountered were just horrible–horribly written, in need of a proofread, etc. I always feel like a snob by not accepting them but life is too short for me to try and take a chance with self-published books. I mean, if I saw one that sounded great and something I’d totally like if it was published by an actual publishing house then I might give it a try. I think self-publishing is great in that it gives authors a chance to write and publish a book without the backing of a publishing house but I think they have a hard road ahead of them in doing so. I’m sure it’s helped people actually get hooked up with a publishing house. In that aspect, I’m all for it. However, pretty much anyone could self-publish a book so it’s hard to be able to know what is going to be good or what seems like my 3rd grade journal. I wish there was a better way to weed through the crap and find the gems!

Vote now!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she’s actually that old. When she’s not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.


  1. My experience with Self Published books has been a mixed bag. There have been some that I couldn't make it through, and there have been some that I really enjoyed. Its because of those ones that I really enjoy that I continue to accept self published books.

    Of course I'm accepting them with the same criteria that I use for selecting any other book. Does it sound like something I'm going to enjoy. If it does, then I'll give it a try.

  2. My biggest problem is the attitude a lot of "indie" authors have. I'm friends with many who work hard, but when the other indies start ranting against the establishment, I tune out. It's fine to choose a different path, but quit yelling fire and brimstone against the rest of us. It's petty.

    And, yes, most self-published books I've read have ranged from being completely unpublishable to maybe needed a better line edit (most of my friends' books fall into the latter). There are so many traditionally published books out there that have been vouched for by the process, I don't have time to risk a self-published book that might be poor quality. And sure, a lot of trad books need better line-editing or whatever, too, but I don't think I would say that's the *majority case*, as it is with self-publishing.

  3. The1stdaughter says:

    I completely agree! This is such a hard thing for me. I get a lot of requests for self-pubs though I specifically say I don't accept them in my review policy. What's worse is that most children's books that are self published are TERRIBLE! Not just needing editing, but a new illustrator as well.

    I will say I've had the occasional good self-published children's book, but it's few and far between. And like you said…life is too short to take a chance, especially when I have publishers I know and love.

    Great post and topic!

  4. Theresa @ TheCreativeWell says:

    I'm going thumbs up on this one. Some of the best books that I've read this year have been self published, including my new all time favorite "Danann Frost Falls From Grace" by Joanne Valiukas. With a self published book, you kinda have to expect that there might be a few grammatical errors, but I believe that everyone deserves a chance. If the book sounds interesting and I think I'll enjoy reading it, I read it. 🙂

  5. Theresa– I'm going to have to check that one out! I guess it just depends on the experiences you've had! Perhaps my opinion would be different if I had good experiences. But thanks for sharing the ones that you had a good experiences with it. I'm all for supporting books who deserve it!

  6. When I first started blogging I accepted a few because I was just so excited that people were offering me books. Mostly it led to disappointment and awkwardness. I felt like I owed them, but I couldn't really even make it through some of the books. (Granted, this is sometimes a problem with non-self pubs, too.) In general now, I don't accept them. I have so much other stuff to read that I'm only accepting books for review that I really would want to buy anyway.

  7. Melanie– I did the same thing! I was soo excited that I was getting free books and when I first started blogging I didn't actually realize they were self-published. I learned a lot about all of that through blogging.

  8. April (BooksandWine) says:

    I don't accept self-published. I mean, yes when I started I accepted like self-published books, but then I made some friends in YA blogging and learned not to make that mistake again.

    As someone above said, Life's too short for that. I have a huge owned-TBR, I would rather read books from that or books from legit publishers than self-pubbed. I don't feel bad about this, because no one is entitled to a review from me unless I have requested a book from them.

  9. Someone whose opinion I trusted would have to read a self-pub first and highly recommend it to me before I would bother with one. I would rather have publishers act as a filter for me. To echo a lot of the previous comments, I have too many already-published books I want to read–probably more than I'll get around to in my lifetime–to be taking risks on self-pubs. I'm not really speaking from experience, but I bet you have to wade through a bunch of crap to find one or two gems.

  10. I agree, life's too short and I'd rather not read a self-published book… at least until it's become more well known and established and big publishers are kicking themselves for not grabbing it first.

  11. I confess, I'm with you only I've softened my attitude recently after a few self-published surprises that were well-written and well edited! I won't buy from Smashwords necessarily, but if I see a lot of buzz about a self-published book, I'll consider it!

  12. I'm going to have to go with thumbs-down, honestly. I've seen ones that are atrociously proofread and in dire need of simple fact-checking. It just turns me off when I can barely get through a book without thinking, "*I* could have edited this and it would be better!"

    On the other hand, I'll read formerly self-published titles that have been picked up by bigger outlets. For instance, Sourcebooks has been doing it with a lot of Jane Austen sequels or related titles, simply because the self-published market's flooded with them and Sourcebooks always needs new material. They usually apply some sort of editing–some light, some heavy–and that makes me more willing to give it a shot.

  13. Really, I only pick up a self-published book if I've read the writer's stuff online, or elsewhere, and I know I'm guaranteed a good read. Otherwise, there's no way I'd bother – not if I had to pay for it!

  14. Stephanie @ Read In a Single Sitting says:

    I think self-publishing is more accepted in some genres such as self-help and business, so if I reviewed in those areas I'd consider them, but for fiction, no? It's just too hard to know whether they're going to be good, and every review for me takes up hours of my personal time.

    I've also started to be leery of very small presses, too, after having received a book or two that were so bad that I had to decline reviewing them. Reputable, well-known small presses only for me–anyone can start a small press, and unfortunately it sometimes shows!

  15. TNBBC Super Mod says:

    Oh no. This post is breaking my heart. Literally taking my heart and chucking it to the ground and mashing it under a pair of heels.

    I live and breathe for the indies! My blog supports indie publishing and indie authors. Some of the best books I read this year are indies! Banned for Life; The Book; Tinkers; Termite Parade; Hater; Immortal; I Curse the River of Time…..

    Shall I keep going? I really really want to keep going! I really don't think it is fair to refuse all self-pubs based on a few bad choices or poorly written books. There is a whole world of great novels waiting out there that so many of you are going to miss!

    Tell ya what.. follow my blog to see which ones are worth the looksie 🙂

  16. Stephanie @ Read In a Single Sitting says:

    (oops, pardon my terrible typos in my previous comment)

    I love small press, and happily support some of the fabulous small Australian presses. But there are just so many untried, untested ones that it can be an arduous effort sorting the good stuff from the bad. If I had self-pub books come to me on recommendation, I'd perhaps consider it, but I get several requests a day, and it's simply overwhelming.

  17. Bob Sanchez says:

    I'm an editor at the Internet Review of Books, if you'll allow that plug. I am also the author of two self-published books, with a third on the way. Our editorial policy is to give self-pubbed books at least a look-see. Most we decline to review, but it's on a case-by-case basis. Two or three have been outstanding, most have been mediocre, and many have been poor.

    Generally, I screen by the quality of the query. If it's not presented professionally, I reject it out of hand.

  18. I'm going with a big ol' thumbs down on this one. It's not that I don't think self-publishing is good or doesn't have its merits. It does but in my experience, a lot of self-published authors have rather inflated senses of their own self-importance and are just plain unprofessional. Considering any dude with a word processor and internet access can self-publish, that doesn't really vouch for quality. POD-dy Mouth is an excellent source for self-publishing statistics. She spent X amount of time reading nothing but self-published books out there and needless to say, her findings support most of our opinions.

    Finding a good self-published book is like finding a good piece of fanfiction. Yeah, its out there but you're going to have to wade through a hell of a lot in order to find it. Considering it's the same kind of access, self-publishing wouldn't be any different. And I just don't have the kind of time to wade through people's first drafts when I have a huge stack of professionally polished books sitting in my house waiting to be read. Self-pubs don't automatically *deserve* a look. Not every writer *deserves* to get published. Just because you finish a manuscript doesn't mean anything. It doesn't mean you're owed anything.

    With self-pubs lately I've had ungrateful authors (not even so much as a thank you for posting a review), unsolicited manuscripts emailed to me (attached to highly unprofessional emails) and just flat out disregard for my review policy (got the request for the review, pointed to my review policy with BIG RED LETTERS clearly indicating under no circumstances do I review self-pubs only to have the author come back after that and argue how his book was different and I should read it anyway). WTF? Really? How many chances am I supposed to give these people? I just don't have that kind of time. If they can't even approach me professionally, why should I bother to even consider to read the manuscript?

  19. mummazappa says:

    Can I have a 'thumbs sideways'? Like every other blogger I get requests for self published books for review, and I always take the time to check them out. Sometimes things look interesting and I'll give them a read, and have been pleasantly surprised by them. But most often I find that they are in dire need of editing, and if I feel that way I won't accept them for review. So I guess what I'm saying is I'm on the fence, sometimes they are fine, sometimes they are terrible 🙂

  20. Kayla + Cyna says:

    's interesting to see everyone's replies to the question, and experiences with self-published books. We're ust starting out (or at least, that's how it still feels, lol), and we were super excited when we got our first email from an author wanting us to review their book. We didn't realize it was self-published, and it turned out to be…well, kind of terrible. But I dunno, that didn't really turn me off to em. We still get emails occasionally, and I've accepted a few because they fell within our genre, and I thought they sounded interesting. I mean, I figure I take the same risk of reading a bad book when I buy it or get it from the library that I do accepting a self-published one. Being published doesn't guarantee anything.

    Besides, if it's a bad book, it gets a bad review. Simple as that.

    So yeah, that's how I feel. If it sounds interesting, I'm there, self-published or not.

  21. As a writer, I am definitely thumbs down. I would never want to self-publish.

  22. I really believe there are some books self-published that are beautiful, it's just that I've never come across one. I've been sent a couple self-published books for review and I really didn't like them. I discovered the first one was self-published because I couldn't believe someone would actually publish that book, it was just that unpolished and weird. I don't think I'll accept them again, maybe if the summary sounds too good to pass up on, but probably not.

  23. RYCJ/Author, Publisher says:

    Thumbs up for me. Being a book lover **reader** I have found it just as hard sifting thru traditional pubbed books looking for a read that suits my taste, as I have found sifting thru the indies.

    I look everywhere… high and low for these gems, and don't mind having to put aside the many, to get at the few… and I'm finding them on both sides of the print houses.

  24. I've accepted some self-published books for review, and I've had bad experiences. It's hard to say no to a self-published author because I want to give them a chance, but at the same time, the ones I have accepted have been a huge waste of my time. I'm more inclined now to only review books from publishers unless I've already read reviews of the author or the book.

  25. I accept self published based on the book. I ask for a few sample chapters via ebook and if the story grabs me I will accept the book but only in print. If the story is not a genre I would read I respectfully decline. I really have to want to read the book and in order to do that. Also the book has to have a great cover, be available for sale in print on book depository or amazon, and most important it has to be a great story.

  26. I'm going to go generally thumbs down, but say that I don't get many requests/offers for self-pubbed books, but if someone did come to me with a self-pubbed book that sounded like something I'd really like I think I'd take a chance on it.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I have to say I am excited about giving self published books a chance. I am tired, and I mean very tired, of the main 5 publishing houses deciding for me what is worthy of reading. So far, I have read two books that are excellent, one that is ok, and am just starting another one. I doubt I will give my money out for traditional published books for quite a while. There are some real treasures out there!

  28. I agree that the ease of creating piece of book length content, (which isn’t actually the same a writing a book,) has flooded the market with inferior products. Although obvious gems exist buried deep within the slime, no one really wants to go through the unpleasantness of the search, although blogs, like this one, will inevitably become the vehicle to aid this messy process. Traditional publishing has based itself on a business model that tends to favor the sure thing. Books are selected, produced and sold based on how easily they can be packaged for the reader. Self publishing offers the chance for an author to express innovation and creativity, and create work that Random house would never entertain. This can be both good and bad, It is literal democracy,and the best thing to happen to authors since the invention of the printing press.

  29. In general I completely agree with you. I’ve been blogging for almost two years, and when I first started I got tons of review requests from self-published authors. Since I had no idea what I was doing, I was thrilled to be asked to review these books, and I took every request. It didn’t take long before I realized what a pit of despair I had fallen into! 90% of them were horribly written, badly (or not at all) edited and the authors had no idea how to construct a story. So these days I rarely accept indies. Like you said, life’s too short to waste time on bad books! I feel bad, because I know indie writers work hard, but some of them don’t even take writing classes or join writer’s groups. They just think “Hey! I’m going to write a book!”

    I have read some really wonderful indies, but they are few and far between.