Category Archives: Tisarian’s Treasure

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.

Tisarian’s Treasure: An Example of an Indie Published Ebook Done Right

Tisarian’s Treasure
J. M. Martin
Cover by Peter Ortiz, interior illustrations by Julie Dillon
ebook 0.99, paperback $5.99

There’s been a lot of discussion online over the last year about the quality of what are called indie published books by their proponents and disparagingly called self-published books by the publishing, agenting, and critical establishment.  You can probably tell from the title of this post as well as how I worded the previous sentence which side of the issue I come down on.

So, rather than simply discuss the merits of the story and the writing itself  in this novella, which I will do, I’d like, begging the indulgence of the author and artists, to go beyond that and discuss the qualities of the publishing as well. 

Most opponents of indie publishing will try to scare you with Chicken Little-esque cries of “You won’t be able to find any quality; you’ll be buried in a sea of crap!” 

Like we aren’t now.  Sturgeon’s Law has never been repealed and never will be.  For those of you who don’t know, Sturgeon’s Law, after the science fiction and fantasy author Theodore Sturgeon, simply says that 90% of everything is crap.  I submit for your consideration what’s on most bookstore shelves.

Fortunately, Tisarian’s Treasure is in the 10%.  We’ll start with the story and the writing since those are what will ultimately make or break an ebook.  (I’m going to confine my comments to the ebook since that’s what I have.)  Problems of formatting can be fixed much more quickly and easily than problems of story and writing.

The writing is fluid and smooth, in the style of an old fashioned pirate novel, which is what this essentially is, with fantasy elements thrown in for fun.  Mr. Martin paints in both broad swathes and in detail, and his prose is lyrical and highly readable.

It’s the story of Dr. Alexandre Mallory, who finds himself marooned on an island with a handful of other survivors of an attack by the pirate Thadieus Drake.  Dr. Mallory has recently been in the service of said Captain Drake, although unwillingly.  Also with them is Oberon Teag, a pirate who has a tattoo on his back showing the location of the famed Tisarian’s Treasure.  It’s on the island they on which they’ve taken refuge.

Also in the group is the woman Katalin, who has mild prophetic powers.  She’s brave, beautiful, strong-willed, and one of the most interesting characters in the novella.

The plot, the characters, and the dialogue are all first rate.  The characters exhibit courage, treachery, ambition, and sacrifice.  They grow and change.  The ending is satisfying, and there’s room for more installments.  (That’s a hint, J. M.)

This story is set in the author’s world of Khaladune.  I’d like to sail these seas and visit this world again.  Fortunately, I will.  There’s a Khaladune story in the anthology Dark Heroes, which I hope to finish and review sometime next week.

Now, let’s look at the production values.  The cover art is gorgeous, of a professional level I’d expect from New York on a major fantasy novel.  The b&w interior illustrations are a nice added bonus, and while Ms. Dillon’s views of the characters don’t exactly match mine, they are well done and add a level of value to the book. 

The formatting on the epub (Nook) version is better than what I’ve read in ebooks by major publishers.  There were no missing line breaks between paragraphs because there were no line breaks between paragraphs.  Instead, the paragraphs were indented, just like in a print book.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that touch.  I hate line breaks between paragraphs when I’m reading fiction.  None of the lines extended off the page like those of a certain publisher I’ll not name sometimes do.  In fact, the only odd thing about the formatting was that occasionally a page number would skip.  That’s a page number, not a page.  And it wasn’t a big deal.

In short, Tisarian’s Treasure had everything I’m looking for in an ebook.  Captivating story, highly readable prose, professional art, and well-done formatting. 

Tisarian’s Treasure is available for both Kindle and Nook, with a paper edition available for those you haven’t gotten an ereader. This is one you will want to check out.