What Stace had to say on Monday, September 26th, 2011
The Lazy Reader

Okay. Maybe someone can explain this to me.

In the past few days I’ve seen two of these display-site/make-your-books-go-viral/readers-can’t-wait-to-read-your-unedited-unpublished-book sites. Slush sites; also known as YADS (Yet Another Display Site), because yeah, this is an idea that people have been trying and trying for years now, and which has never to my knowledge resulted in any sort of publishing deal for anyone.

Anyway. The two I’m thinking of offhand are PUBSLUSH (read more at AW and Writer Beware here and here) and the not-yet-unveiled ViralBestseller.com (link goes to the AW thread).

Here’s the basic idea behind these sites. The PUBSLUSH people or the “agents” at ViralBestseller will post your book on a website. According to them, what will then happen is that thousands of eager readers will flock to their site, desperate to find something new to read that hasn’t been touched by those horrible editors (ViralBestseller refers to “unedited glory” and reading “the author’s original intensions[sic],” which frankly to me displays a deep misunderstanding of the editing process, but whatever) or professional publishers or, well, anyone who can determine whether or not the work in question is actually readable. Readers, they claim, are desperate to wade through thousands of manuscripts looking for one that they might like. In the case of PUBSLUSH, their plan is for readers to actually pledge money to preorder the book, based on a ten-page sample, and when a certain amount of supporters/cash is reached the book will be published.

Now…okay. Maybe the problem here is me (I am the “lazy reader” referred to in the title of the post). I fully admit that may be the case. I certainly think of myself as a dedicated and avid reader; I don’t have as much time to read now as I used to, seeing as how I spend so much time writing them these days, but I certainly still read and buy books and read some more. I read a lot. Probably not as much as any of you, but certainly as much as I can. I’m always looking for book recommendations. Those of you who’ve reviewed my books favorably in the past may be surprised to know that based on that (by which I mean your obviously excellent taste in literature), I visit your sites to see what else you’re reading that you like, and check those books out at the bookstore. I write down titles; I look to see who you’re talking about (I also grit my teeth because, you know, talking about other books means you’re not talking about mine, but still). (That is of course a joke.) (Mostly.)

But I look at sites like these and I think, man…I just don’t want to have to work that hard, you know?

I have a big enough TBR list; I have books by my friends whose writing I love that I don’t manage to get to fast enough for me. I have recommendations I’ve found on your sites, if you review. I have research reading to do; my nonfiction library is ever-growing. I have books I saw at the bookstore that I bought just cuz they looked cool that I haven’t gotten to read yet. That adds up to a lot of books.

So when I’m thinking of looking for something new to read (if I’m not just picking something from my TBR)…I dunno, I just never think to myself, “You know what I’d like to do? I’d like to spend several hours hunting through digital slushpiles to see if maybe there’s something in there I might want to read on my laptop.” In the case of PUBSLUSH, that would be “I’d like to spend several hours looking through ten-page samples in hopes of pledging to pay $25 to maybe get the whole thing in a few months’ time.”

All of the YADS play on–most of them have little screeds written to the effect of–the idea that commercial publishing as it is is “broken” and isn’t serving readers. I disagree with this; sure, not every book is to my taste, but in general I find there’s plenty of variety out there to keep me happy and interested. And the idea that publishers have no idea what readers want puzzles me, too, frankly. You and I might think TWILIGHT isn’t very good (or we may love it; I’m not saying anything one way or the other) but the fact remains that an agent and an editor read it and thought “This book will appeal to lots of readers,” and they were right, and that happens every day. Yes, bad books get published. I can certainly think of a few. But good ones do, too, every day.

But to get back to the main point…am I just lazy? Is this something readers actually want to do? Do you find yourself hunting around odd websites looking for something that might be interesting to read? Do you look at sites like those?

Or do you, like me, and like–I believe–the majority of readers, still prefer to find and read books from bookstores, from reviews on trusted sites, from friends who’ve read them? Books that you can be fairly certain are at least up to a certain standard of readability?

I’m genuinely curious. Because like I said, I just don’t want to work that hard to find something to read, and I just don’t have that kind of time.

BTW…I now have a Tumblr. So if you’re on Tumblr, let me know! I have plans for something fun on Tumblr soon, which I’m working on at the moment, so…there’ll be more on that later.

18 comments to “The Lazy Reader”

  1. Naomi
    Comment
    1
    · September 26th, 2011 at 9:50 am · Link

    I don’t think it’s just you. The idea of wading through mountains of slush on the off chance something I like might be there doesn’t appeal to me at all. Possibly mostly because I already know what I like to read, and there are plenty of amazing authors who write it!

    This strikes me as another “we’ll show those nasty traditional publishers/authors what’s what, ahahahaha” type schemes, which frankly I’m sick of.



  2. Chelsea / Vampire Book Club
    Comment
    2
    · September 26th, 2011 at 10:14 am · Link

    It’s not just you. At all.

    It’s actually a big part of the reason I don’t accept self-published work for review at VBC (exceptions for previously published authors I adore like Shiloh Walker or Carolyn Crane). My to-read list is far too long to pick up things that haven’t been vetted by SOMEONE.

    Hate on the publishing industry all you want (I don’t want to at all, for the record), but editors help cut away a lot of the crap. I just don’t have the time to waste on something that hasn’t had one or two professionals go “yep, this has merit.”



  3. KB/KT Grant
    Comment
    3
    · September 26th, 2011 at 10:42 am · Link

    I have a tumblr also! :)

    http://redheadedkb.tumblr.com/



    • Stace
      Comment
      3.1
      · September 26th, 2011 at 10:44 am · Link

      Cool!

      I’m still getting the hang of it, but I am hoping to do something cool with it soon-ish. :)



      • KB/KT Grant
        Comment
        3.1.1
        · September 26th, 2011 at 11:20 am · Link

        When I first joined tumblr I was so confused. Now I can’t get enough of it. Addiction, I haz it.



  4. Sarah
    Comment
    4
    · September 26th, 2011 at 11:11 am · Link

    I find most of the books that I read either through author or book review blogs and my Amazon recommendation page. I read reviews and if it sounds like something I would like, then I read it. I guess I may be considered a “lazy reader” as well, because I usually wait for others to review a book and tell me more about it before deciding if it’s for me. These new sites do not sound like anything I would be interested in.



  5. Eridani
    Comment
    5
    · September 26th, 2011 at 11:19 am · Link

    A while back I decided to look into all the hype of the unedited book by grabbing some self-published Kindle books. I wasn’t ready to go in totally unprotected (barebacking, as it were) so I got stuff that was pretty popular. Ack, the horror, the horror. A couple of the things I got were okay, but most were just painful to behold. I now appreciate the editing process as never before, let me tell you.

    I buy between 10 and 20 books a month on my Kindle, and there’s always more on my wishlist. I don’t have time for something that’s not a well-rounded, high quality product when there are so many of them out there waiting for me to read them.



  6. BernardL
    Comment
    6
    · September 26th, 2011 at 11:25 am · Link

    I read reviews, and with my newly acquired Kindle I download a lot of samples. Amazon already makes it easy to publish unedited slush if that is a writer’s preference, and I doubt those YADS have a marketplace better or more organized than Amazon’s. It will still be nearly impossible to sell much without name recognition. I wouldn’t want anything raw to read. I’m already doomed after decades of editing to seeing every single flaw, which makes it doubly important to pick out a novel that turns off my internal editor. :)



  7. Betsy Dornbusch
    Comment
    7
    · September 26th, 2011 at 3:18 pm · Link

    Wow, I haven’t heard of these sites at all.

    I currently have something like 50 titles in paper in my TBR pile and probably ten more on my kindle. Plus meeting my own writing commitments, reading my slushpile, and critiquing for author friends.

    So I have no time to sort through these manuscripts either.



  8. kindle-aholic
    Comment
    8
    · September 26th, 2011 at 6:00 pm · Link

    I like Goodreads for getting friend recs, and I follow a few authors and editors on twitter and if they rec a book I usually look into it. I do read some self-pubbed works, but nothing turns me off a book more than someone claiming that editing is a negative. The self-pubbed authors I read (and buy more of) tend to realize the need for the editing process and invest in it themselves. So, a website decrying the need for editing would put me off.



  9. Lisa Spangenberg
    Comment
    9
    · September 26th, 2011 at 10:20 pm · Link

    It does seem to me that all the display sites I’ve seen—and I’ve easily seen twenty or more—are started not only by people who are clueless about publishing, but by people who don’t read very much. These are people who honestly have never had book lust, never glommed onto an author, and obsessively haunted bookstores and libraries looking for Everything They Ever Wrote.

    I’m not saying they aren’t literate (though honestly, some of the copy on YADS sites suggests a certain absence of familiarity with English orthography and punctuation), but that they aren’t the kinds of people who go to bookstores regularly, have library cards, and a stack of books TBR, never mind what’s on their Kindle, Nook or iPad.

    I can honestly say that I haven’t ever been unable to find something to read in a bookstore or library, if I had nothing at home (and I’ve had a TBR pile for the last ten years or so).

    I’ve followed you on Tumblr; I’m still trying to figure it and Posterous out, because, I totally needed more places to post/blog/write.



  10. Michele Lee
    Comment
    10
    · September 27th, 2011 at 12:12 am · Link

    I’m totally with you. So far this year I’ve read 68 books (and am currently reading 3). My review queue of just the books people sent to me specifically review (not the ones they want me to blurb or crit and not the ones I bought myself) hovers around 65 books. In other words I have almost a years worth of books just in my review pile. Plus then factor in library books sales, the fact that I got am employee discount at Borders for 7 months, then hit their liquidation sales…I’m good on books! Books I want to read. Books I’m responsible for reading. Books friends want my opinion on. So why would I search out slushie books?

    And can I reveal something to you? I spent August being an acquisitions editor for a small press. I got really excited about the books I requested, but 90% of the books were completely wrong and didn’t even follow the guidelines. In truth following the guidelines became a huge, huge sign that someone was serious enough and CONSIDERATE enough to be a respectful partner in a project. So many people just didn’t care about my time they just wanted to be published.

    I would never hang out at a site like that when I have so much else to read, and access to a slush pile I was asked to read because the publisher respected and valued my opinion. Who has time to troll for more slush at that quality?

    And, I have another confession. I’ve been self publishing under the name M. Lush. I started doing it because I had a pair of contemporary romance novellas that were a ton of fun to write, and the first was accepted twice by places that ended up not publishing them at all (changed direction or closed because of sudden serious health problems) and my horror/SF/F reader base was not at all interested (and likely romance readers wouldn’t cross over to my other stuff either). So for fun and as an experiment I put the first one up (after having edited by a firm crit partner and triple checking format).

    It’s been a lot of fun. I’m not going to be rich anytime soon, but the freedom of not writing to agent tastes and not sitting around for a year while everything gets rejected and feeling like I’m going nowhere…I mean the projects are just that, pure fun. I had fun writing them. So far people have had fun reading them and it’s easy to have that enjoyment worn down in this business. Having that raft of fun helps me dig back into the harder stuff.

    But having been a reviewer used as a first reader or subjected to really horrible writing that people though was fantastic I try to be real careful to give readers a good *quality* story. Even if I’m just doing it for fun, and even if a full on romance career isn’t something I’m after.

    I think a lot of people, though can’t look past the fact that they wrote something to see if it’s an engaging, emotional story or not. They just know all the time and energy and emotion they spent on it and don’t look at the actual words on the paper/screen.



  11. Zanthera
    Comment
    11
    · September 27th, 2011 at 8:13 am · Link

    Kobo to read list is at about 50+/- and on my shelf 3 paper editions. Not one of the titles on my list were found by these so called slush sites. Not interested in visiting them either now because that proverbial needle will most likely not be found by me. I have no such luck so I will stick to friends, Amazon, and GoodReads reviews on whether I invest my money on a book or not.

    Besides, time is money and if you have the talent you should get paid for your work. I have much respect for writers and artist of all genres who go through the process and am ever so willing to pay for what intrigues me. It can be a book, movie, or video game which is good stuff 90% of the time to someone at least.

    Just wish I could find the determination that I used to have years ago to break in myself. I also hope that people who don’t have the talent find something else to do and not flood the gates with trash suffocating the real gems . There is a point where people will figure out that they do not have a certain talent isn’t there?

    OK I have been up for 24 hours need to let go of this comment and get off box.



  12. Eedamme
    Comment
    12
    · September 28th, 2011 at 2:07 am · Link

    Ha ha,

    “unedited glory” and reading “the author’s original intensions[sic]”

    Well said, Stacia. This is exactly why we need editors. And good writers love editors, because because good writers care more about the story than about their own egos.

    Those sort of sites sound like a massive waste of time and I can’t imagine why anyone would bother with them.



  13. Tina R.
    Comment
    13
    · September 30th, 2011 at 9:24 am · Link

    I will go through the B&N new releases or coming soon section fairly regularly to find new authors. I would never spend what little free time I have reading 500 badly written texts to find 1 diamond-in-the-rough. After all, isn’t that what publishing houses are doing for me? :)



  14. Cheryl
    Comment
    14
    · October 2nd, 2011 at 11:30 am · Link

    Truly, I believe these sites are created by lazy writers that want to blame the reader for their poor ability to either 1. get an agent/publishing deal or 2. make any sales off their self-pubbed ebooks.

    Unfortunately, blaming the customer rarely makes anything sell better or get better reviews.

    I recently started pimping out my services to self-pubbers for editing because I really enjoy it. Call me crazy, but I like looking at writing critically. As a marketing thing, I asked for a few authors to edit for *free.*

    Holy cow. You’d be surprised to see how many writers say they want to be edited but then when they get into the process, really don’t. They just want to be proofread.

    It’s hubris that keeps that type of website alive with writers. They cater to those that don’t want to actually learn how to write well and attract readers. They want someone to tell them how great it is and how all those bad reviews are just wrong. Never mind that they have 50 or 60 bad reviews of 65 reviews total of their 10 other books. And those good reviews are from friends and family and other writers they made a deal with to leave positive reviews. Now they stick their newest on this kind of site thinking someone is actually going to finally understand their genius and give them a million dollar deal.

    If I sound bitter it’s because I probably am. I’m sick of these idiots giving those of us that actually want to write, learn and grow every day (no matter which way we publish) a bad name.

    Call me a lazy reader. I’m okay with that. I’ll just remember to be too lazy to read the slush site.



  15. Andy Jenkinson
    Comment
    15
    · June 28th, 2013 at 1:57 am · Link

    Are you confusing unpublished with unedited? I’ve read several e-books on my Kindle which were by previously unpublished authors and some are excellent. They were originally free or extremely low cost but those authors have gone on to apparent success. Literary merit aside, Harry Potter would be an unknown if J. K. R. had not persisted after several rejections. I hate spelling and grammatical errors yet I still see them in books by mainstream publishers which supposedly have been edited. Even Gerald Durrell’s “My Family and Other Animals” had spelling mistakes in the Kindle version after 50 years!
    Thanks to these previously unpublished works and the Kindle my reading tastes have broadened considerably – and I am grateful for that.
    I don’t see the point of those sites either as, as has been said, Amazon offers something similar. However, I can understand readers’ interest in making a new discovery. I’d love to be the first to read the next Terry Pratchett!



    • Stace
      Comment
      15.1
      · June 29th, 2013 at 7:29 pm · Link

      No, I’m not confusing unpublished with unedited.



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