Won’t read your self-published book because

[WARNING: IF YOU ARE ALREADY PERFECTLY HAPPY WITH YOUR READING MATTER (or have already read PURGATORY and are waiting for the next volume in the trilogy), you may skip what follows with a clear conscience.]

I might find something I liked – and have to change my attitude about SPAs (self-published authors).

I prefer to wait until others decide what I should read.

I like classics – and classics were never produced by SPAs. Oh, wait. They used to be (long list of SPAs such as Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Clemens and…) but modern writers are not good unless they can submit and submit and maybe be granted an audience with an AGENT!

There is so much out there I could never figure out what to try.

I want the opinions of established critics, not my fellow readers. The critics have to know what they’re talking about, right? Because their descriptions and reviews are always exactly what I need to know, right?

I actually don’t want you to read my self-published novel(s)

Because I have some requirements of my READERS:

They have to love to read, even when it is difficult and they have to read in small pieces.

They have to love a lot of classics – because that what I educated myself by reading, and it has a habit of showing in my writing.

They have to love at least something out of the mainstream category

It shows openness of mind. Here’s a partial list of my favorites – and all of them influenced me and my writing in good ways:


The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

The Thorn Birds

Great Expectations

A Tale of Two Cities

Lucifer’s Hammer

Jane Eyre

Pride and Prejudice

Huckleberry Finn

Silas Marner

Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey novels, especially Strong Poison, Gaudy Night, and Busman’s Honeymoon

Don Quixote and some of the Mexican picaresque novels (for Spanish speakers)

It helps if they loathe

Some of the books I found unsatisfactory because [reason in brackets]:

The Lovely Bones [that ending]

Lolita [subject matter]

The Great Gatsby [cannot get into it – don’t care about any of the characters]

A Confederacy of Dunces [after the first chapter I wanted to wash my brain out with soap – good writing in the service of that?]

Tess of the D’Urbervilles [they couldn’t find some excuse not to hang poor Tess? And yes, I know things were very different back then]

Anything by Dan Brown

Any number of shades of gray

And it really helps if you share some of my blind spots and prejudices

You don’t care for anything supernatural in your novels.

You prefer novels with characters you can identify with. And they can’t be improbably young, sexy, healthy as the only requirement. They should also have a job. And a life.

You don’t want anyone swooping down and saving anyone – salvation must be earned and isn’t assured.

You prefer not to have to ignore a lot of unbelievable plot points (really letting myself in for open season here).

Just because the author writes it isn’t enough justification.

Typos are not good.

Spelling is actually important.

You don’t read modern Romance novels.

You don’t like cozies, except if you categorize Agatha Christie as one.

Chick lit is too perky for you, except in small quantities.

When original authors died, their franchises went with them, and there are NO exceptions to this rule no matter how attractive you find Benedict Cumberbatch. Or Sandra Oh.

Why am I being this picky?

Because I’m looking for people who will actually LOVE the Pride’s Children trilogy, not just sort of like it.

Because I do not write for people who read outside my preferences – they are hard to persuade to try PC, and when they do, if they write a review at all, it is obvious they shouldn’t have tried it in the first place. I’m trying to save them some time. And annoyance (which explains their reaction).

Because people who love may recommend you to their friends, but people who don’t won’t – and book recommendations are the biggest way of finding your ideal readers.


BTW, you can be a millenial or younger. That is not an impediment. Your taste palate for novels is the key, not the specifics.

I ALSO love the readers who are not my ‘Ideal Readers’ and love PC anyway. They are my heroes.

What about converts?

I admit to loving those. I have a number of reviews from older men who say, “I don’t normally read this kind of book, but I loved it,” and I treasure those above all others.

But they are very hard to find, it takes me a lot of careful and deliberate effort to get them to try PC, and it is time I should spend finishing the trilogy.

Surely in a world of SEVEN BILLION PEOPLE there are Readers already out there who are looking for specific things, already know what that is, and WILL RECOGNIZE IT WHEN THEY SEE IT.

Oxford commas and all.


Please excuse my general grumpiness

The writing is going extremely well lately, and I may even finish NETHERWORLD this year, but my physical body is giving me a lot of… shall we say, distraction? And marketing can be a bitch.

Also, feel free to add to my canon in the comments. I will poach any I like and add them to the post, with credit to you.

If you’ve gotten this far without damage to your psyche, click on the book image (top right), read the descriptions and a couple of the reviews for yourself, click on the Look Inside! feature and read the first three scenes or so (you will have had enough to make your own decision by that point, and will have met the main characters for the trilogy). Make up your own mind. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I hope you’re one of us.



14 thoughts on “Won’t read your self-published book because

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Then you are one of the good ones – the wider reach that is possible – and I am so glad.

      Omnivores – what I was when I was younger and not ill – are wonderful readers to have in the pool, and are probably also good spreaders for the organic reach of a novel and its writer. I just want to finish!

      It’s possible that, with some books, what I’m objecting to is the quality of the writing and not necessarily the subject matter. Again, with my limited energy, I’m less likely to tolerate what throws me out of the story.


      Liked by 1 person

  1. Widdershins

    I’m partial to the early ‘Mary Russell’ books by Laurie King (as variations on the ‘S. Holmes’ stories, her later ones leave something to be desired though in that the characters don’t seem to grow.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      We’re all different as readers – and my friends write everything but what I do – we have a lot in common, but don’t get each other’s readers.

      I know some Romance groups where they have voracious readers, certain standards, and common fans. They promote each other’s work – sounds nice.


  2. Lee McAulay

    Cheeky title! Almost got me. My list of favourite books and those that influenced me, and thus my writing, is totally different from yours. But I’m also fishing for those within the seven billion who like what I write, and the more books I produce, the more hooks I have to fish with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      The biggest help for getting readers is to write the next book, and that’s what I’m doing, literally as fast as I can.

      But the first book took me fifteen years, and I’m in year six of the second one, hoping to finish this year (well past the halfway mark) or early next year. Brain fog and complete lack of physical energy make it difficult to write complex novels.

      But I like what I’m doing, the reviews are good when I get them, mostly, and I can’t wait to read the whole second book as a piece.

      The title of this post was a tweak on someone else’s post that was a lot more negative about self-publishing. I get it. Perceived quality is erratic. And self-publishing allows almost anyone to throw up a book (and sometimes do very well), so the percentage of good books is higher from the traditionally-published pool (they just don’t publish the books which don’t meet their standards), whereas we SPAs publish anything we want to.

      The indie method has the advantage of not having voices blocked by the gatekeepers. But finding what you like can be a problem – and, for a writer, finding your ideal readers is definitely a problem.

      I’m just hoping ONE of my attempts at SEO (thrown together while concentrating ONLY on the actual fiction) will get me enough exposure to do something. You never know what might get picked up and passed along, but it can’t be unless it exists. So I make them exist.


  3. Chris

    I think it’s refreshing to see how we can agree – more importantly: discuss – about many things regarding literature and writing, although our reading preferences are quite different.

    Actually, we do share preferences when it comes to loathing (with the exception of Lolita, that, despite its rather disgusting topic, is masterfully written).

    But I must admit, nothing puts me to sleep faster than some of the works you listed as your favorites. Perhaps I’ve been exposed to them too much, as a Victorian Gothic scholar, but I just can’t stand Austen, Dickens, or the Brontës. I respect their works – unlike Dan Brown’s, for example, since you referred to him – but I can’t stand them.

    And that’s ok, as it’s ok to love them.

    As you aptly point out, an author should aim to be read by the *right* readers.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      The more accurate and narrow the targeting, the more likely we will find them – methods of reaching readers will depend on the readers themselves.

      I have long been wary of the system of optimizing for Amazon keywords – because I don’t think MY Ideal Readers use Amazon as anything other than a quick and dirty method of acquiring the books they want to read.

      This is a guess – based on a small sample. I believe they get their recommendations from something I have yet to crack: readers willing to leave the traditional publishers BECAUSE those publishers are not satisfying them, going as they do after the big money bestsellers, and leaving less and less on the table for their other authors.

      Many of those authors give up – with no publicity and little push and almost nothing in royalties and less and less in advances – they get the credential necessary (‘published author’) to teach, but can’t really afford to keep writing and trying to publish.

      Small sample again, but they are disappointed in what their hard work got them.

      As you’ve probably guessed, we have different ideal readers in mind, which is true of all the authors I correspond with – the few who are indie literary/mainstream/contemporary I’ve encountered have been quite unwilling to associate. I did try. It surprised me, but then I realized that within that category, we were all very different writers.

      Maybe it’s easy/easier to discuss things when they are a tad removed.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. acflory

    Left Hand of Darkness added to The Dispossessed. 😀

    Thanks for giving me a real laugh out loud moment. I think I agree with everything except maybe the bit about Benedict Cumberbatch. For him I’m prepared to forgive a great deal. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lloyd Lofthouse

    Dune is on the top of my favorite list, too. From there, the list diverges to “The Lord of the Rings” (I’ve read the books three times and watched the films three times), all of Ursula K. Le Guin work, especially The Dispossessed … that’s the tip of the spear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I will add those to the canon, of course. It was a quick and dirty to get the ball rolling, and I believe readers of Tolkien and LeGuin have the potential for liking what I write, and those who don’t, also don’t.

      Not to do a direct comparison to the greats, but to note that they (and the others cited) have excellent vocabularies, and the ability to make a complex plot functional – and a belief in storytelling with an aim somewhere down under all that work.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Also, I’m not saying ‘don’t read’ to Readers without the skillset I’m assuming – it’s more of ‘be certain before you start, because it’s harder than you expect – but I think it’s worth the effort.’ And ‘let me know if I’m right.’

      I still think those who struggle with a book are less likely to recommend it. Just an instinct.



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