I’ve been on a Kindle kick recently, perusing the site for free/super cheap books. I often go to the Kindle free best sellers lists and download interesting titles. Even the paid titles are extremely cheap, usually under 2 bucks. There’s also a great website/app called Wattpad where you can read free books. The writing is of a significantly lesser quality but I’ve still found some decent stories there. And let’s not forget the public library. Great resource for free books. I’ve been enjoying adding to my Kindle collection because it’s part research and part I’m poor.
The poor part comes in because I’ve been more bummed than usual these past few months. My hours keep getting cut at my job-which is contributing to the poor part-and I’m going to have to find another one soon. But there’s no other work out there right now. And there hasn’t been for ages. I’ve been looking. And also being on a diet has annoyed me because I can’t stuff my face to squash my pain like I used to.
So with nothing else to calm my cravings or distract me from my decreasing paycheck, I’ve been checking out of life by reading these free/cheap books. I think it’s a good, healthy distraction.
Going back to the Kindle freebies, one of the trends I’ve noticed is many authors will put up a free book but will use it as a hook to get you to buy their other books. Many of the books are the first parts to a trilogy or series. Sometimes that can be a turn off for me because I’m often not looking to get that invested. And what if I do like the book? I’m going to have to pay for the others but I don’t have the money for that so I just won’t even read the first one.
I’m not saying it’s a bad strategy at all or that there is anything bad about it. I’m just not financially stable enough to buy a 12-part zombie apocalypse epic. Plus, there’s too many good free books out there.
And that’s the other problem. Because I’ve been amassing so many free books, I wonder how I’m ever going to get them read.
Lastly, a lot of authors have been following the erotica trend thanks to the Fifty Shades phenomenon. And I’m just not into that. So the best sellers have been saturated with book covers of shirtless men embracing petite women and that means the selection has been kind of slim lately. But I guess that’s good because it’ll give me a chance to catch up on all the other books I’ve collected over the months.
And as I read, I’m researching. I’ve read some self-published books that read as well as one I can find in a bookstore. I’ve also read some that are obviously the work of an amateur. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re good. Despite the flaws, most of them are still good stories. And I think that’s because most people who want to write a book can tell a decent story. Yeah, that’s a generalization and of course not everyone with a novel in their head will flawlessly transfer it to the page but I’d like to think people who have no business writing books generally won’t. I know I’m not an athlete and I certainly have no desire to try out for the NBA.
But the point is the majority of the books I’ve read have been mostly enjoyable. At the very least, I haven’t come across a book I haven’t been able to finish.
Each time I find a flaw or feel wonky about a portion of the story, I try to compare it to my own work, to ask myself if I’m making those same kinds of errors. And sometimes reading these books helps my confidence. I think I can write as well as some of these authors. And then I read others and it inspires me to write as well as they do. It pushes me to want to improve my work so I can match their quality.
On the other hand, sometimes I worry that some of these bad writer habits might slip into my work. What if I subconsciously let my writing slack because I feel I’m as good as they are. If this author can get great reviews with average writing, maybe I can too?
But there’s more to selling a book than the quality of writing. There’s the subject and how you market and a whole lot of good luck. Of course, excellent writing will always be the best way to sell a book. Marketing and topic trends always change but engaging writing is the most consistent form of advertising. And I need to remember that. I also need to remember that I want it to be good for myself. Even if no one else reads it, I’ll know I did my best and put what I believe to be a quality product out there. I hope that will be satisfaction enough. And if others can connect to it, that’ll be a bonus fuzzy feeling.