Category Archives: Age of Giants

Indie Books: A Tsunami of…?

You hear a lot of talk in the publishing world these days about indie published ebooks.  Some think they’re nothing short of the salvation of western civilization because they allow authors to connect directly to readers.  Others, to a large extent publishers, editors, and agents, insist that indie publishing will bury us all under a tsunami of crap.  And of course you every possible position in between those two extremes.

A couple of days ago, Passive Guy at The Passive Voice, posted something about a publisher reporting ebook sales.  In the comments section, Mick Griggs included a link to this essay.  (Thanks, PG and Mick.)

Mark Williams, the author of that essay insists, quite convincingly, that instead of  a tsunami of crap, we’re starting to see a tsunami of excellence.  If you have an ereader, are thinking about buying an ereader, or even interested in what effect ereaders and epublishing will have on your future book buying, you should check that essay out.

I decided to do a little commentary myself, based on some things I’ve posted lately.

I’ve looked at four indie ebooks in the last month.  Those books were Tisarian’s Treasure, Age of Giants:  Awakening, Dark Heroes, and Stones.  The links in the previous sentence are to the reviews.

Now, this analysis is completely unscientific; statistically speaking, my sample size is too small to be significant.

Still, as a snapshot, it is an informative look at what’s going on in the adventure and fantasy fields.  Two of the books, Tisarian’s Treasure and Dark Heroes, are available in print editions as well as electronic formats.  The question is, are these publications crap?

When dealing with electronic publishing, crap can be defined two ways.  One is the quality of the writing itself.  The other is the formatting.  I’ll address the latter first, since formatting is something that can be changed fairly easily after publication compared to print books.  With the partial exception of Dark Heroes, with which I had some issues in regard to no table of contents, all the books listed above were well formatted, had decent to great cover art that reflected the content, and were well laid out and organized.

The quality of the works varied a little, because Dark Heroes was an anthology and some of the stories didn’t resonate with me as well as others, but all were at the worst well written and highly readable.  The better written stories flowed, grabbed me, and made me want to read more.  Given that these books started at $0.99, and most major publishers’ electronic books start at $6.99 or $7.99, I’d say any one of the four I’ve looked at are a better buy than almost anything coming out of major New York houses. 

Like I said, I realize my sample size isn’t a representative cross-section of what’s out there.  But I want to argue that it doesn’t have to be.  I’m old enough to know what I like.  I’m going to pick up books that I think will appeal to my tastes and preferences.  That doesn’t mean everything I read will, but I load the odds in my favor.  I also like a lot of variety and am not afraid to try something new from time to time.  Indie publishing provides that at affordable prices.

When was the last time you saw something really new come out of New York publishing?  The majority of books from major publishers look fairly interchangeable to me.

Is there crap in the world of indie publishing?  Yes.  Sturgeon’s Law, remember?  But clearly there’s excellence out there, too.  New York publishing has gotten so afraid of taking risks that we’re being given a steady diet of the same old thing.  Indie writers are finding an audience that they haven’t been able to find through major houses.  More power to them.

Oh, and that tsunami of crap that New York publishers, editors, and agents say we’ll be drowning in?  I agree, we are drowning in a tsunami of crap.  I just don’t think it’s coming from indie publishing.

Age of Giants – Awakening: Another Well Done Indie Ebook

Age of Giants – Awakening
Rob Reaser
$2.99 various ebook formats
Reaser Brand Communications

The Nephilim were on the earh in those days – and also afterward-when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them.  They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
                                                           Genesis 6: 4

Back in August I received an email from a Rob Reaser asking if I would be willing review the novel that’s the subject of this post.  I had never heard of Mr. Reaser, but the synopsis sounded interesting, not something I’d seen much of before.  I replied that I would, but I had about half a dozen other books I had committed to review that were in the queue ahead of his novel.  He replied that was fine, he would appreciate the review when I could get to it.

Well, it took a little longer than I had anticipated (my apologies, Rob), but I finished the book yesterday while sick in bed.  (No, the book didn’t make me sick; being sick allowed me to finish the novel sooner than I thought I would.)  I wondered when I agreed to review the book if I was making a mistake, reviewing a first and self-published novel.  I’m glad to say I made no mistake.

While very different in style and content from Tisarian’s Treasure, this is another example of a well-done ebook independently published by the author.

The situation is this:  the Nephilim are back.  And they’re not nice.  Through a genetically engineered plague, they’ve wiped out most of the human race.  The few survivors left are either kept as slaves and breeding stock, or they try their best to survive in small tribes.  Some occasionally mount a weak resistance; these are known as raiders.

I found this to be an interesting premise and not one that’s been used much.  Reaser does a good job of making the scenario believable and realistic, at places later in the story delving into possible scientific explanations for the existence of the Nephilim and mechanisms to defeat them.  It was hard to decide whether this was fantasy or science fiction.  I was tempted to review this over on Futures Past and Present, but I decided to  review it here because this site gets more traffic, and thus the book would get greater exposure.

The central character is a young woman named Nora, who is leading two of her companions on a raid when the story opens a couple of generations after the Nephilim have taken over.  Things don’t go well, her two companions are killed, and Nora and a freed slave, Stu, manage to escape.  When they return to Nora’s home, they discover that most of her tribe have been taken captive in a Nephilim raid.

Nora, Stu, and a young woman named Gayle set off in pursuit to rescue the captured raiders.  Of course, it isn’t going to be that simple.

The plot is fairly straight forward, but there are a couple of surprises.  I’ll not spoil them for you.  I’ll only say that not everyone who has the same goal will agree on the best way to achieve that goal.  Some people forget who they’re fighting for in their efforts to accomplish great good.

Mr. Reaser has twenty years experience as a journalist and magazine editor, and it shows in his writing style, which is sparse and lean without a lot of flowery prose.  I found his style suited the story he was telling, adding to the tension. 

This was a fairly short novel by today’s standards, just over 200 pages.  I’m fairly certain Mr. Reaser intended it to be for an adult audience, but there’s nothing inappropriate for younger readers, especially teenagers.  The protagonist is barely into her twenties, and the book shares many of the themes of classic YA science fiction and fantasy.  (I don’t know about contemporary YA because it seems to be mostly marketed to girls.)  With the new Kindles hitting the market, the predictions for ebook sales this holiday season are high.  If you’re considering giving a younger (or older) reader an electronic reading device, this book would be a nice thing to include with it.  The book is well formatted, it has an interactive table of contents so you can go directly to the chapter you want if you didn’t set a bookmark, and it tells a good story.

I’m looking forward to the next volume.