Category Archives: Stones

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.

A Review of Stones by Gerald So, Yet Another Well-Done Ebook

Gerald So
various ebook formats, $0.99

Long ago, when the world was young, the Moon was new, dinosaurs ruled the land, and I was in high school, two of the three television networks decided to do what networks have always done.  (Yes, children, at one time there were only three television networks instead of half a million; if you didn’t like what was on, you read a book.  There was no internet.  I told you, the world was young.)  They decided to cash in on the popularity a little movie entitled Raiders of the Lost Ark by airing shows in a similar vein, namely adventures set in the Pacific in the 1930s.

I don’t remember which networks they were, and I’m too lazy to look it up.  One show was entitled Bring ‘Em Back Alive, the fictitious adventures of real life big game hunter Frank Buck, author of a book of the same title, and starring Bruce Boxleitner.  The other was Tales of the Gold Monkey.  It starred Stephen Collins and several of the characters were spies.

It’s Tales of the Gold Monkey that Stones most closely resembles.

This is not accidental.  So dedicated the book to Donald P. Bellisario, creator of the show.

How do the stories stack up?  They were a delight to read.  The central character, C. J. Stone, is a pilot in the Caribbean in the 1930s, and So does an excellent job of capturing the tone of the era.  The stories are short, almost vignettes in some cases.  But they work.  They were a lot of fun, and I’ll be tracking down the other stories about Stone that are mentioned in the author bio.

I also want to say a word about the formatting of the book.  This is another of several ebooks I’ve looked at lately (see here, here, and here), only this one has no print version.  I have to say I’m impressed.  There’s an interactive table of contents.  While not flashy, the cover art gives you an excellent idea of what you’re getting with the book.  The black and white illustration does more to match the tone of the time in which the book is set than a color cover would.

This is one worth picking up.  Hopefully, Mr. So will continue to write about this character.  I’d love to read more of his adventures.