Take the guess work out of choosing a new digital book before you download

5 tips on how to choose a Self-Published BookCredit: Bigstock

There is a lot written about how self publishing has revolutionised the market for writers: No publishing houses, no agents and no rejections.

All a writer needs to is write their story and publish to one of the online bookstores such as Amazon.

For readers, this can mean a wider range of stories and writing styles to try. What is available to be read is no longer controlled by a small number of publishing houses or based on what is ‘trendy’ at the time. 

However, there is a downside to the loss of the traditional gatekeepers. Anyone and everyone can publish their story.

While this means an increase in the number of good stories, equally there is an increase in the number of poorly written stories produced by people who are totally misguided in their assessment of their own writing skills.

While no guidelines can produce a 100% guarantee, there are five ways that a passionate reader can quickly assess the book or writer before making a buying/reading decision.

1. Read or download the sample. Take advantage of sample offered on most major book sites such as Amazon. This allows a reader to try the first 20 pages or so before they buy. If the writing style, grammar or introduction isn’t appealing, don’t purchase of download it. 

2. Ask your friends. If your friends are also keen readers, ask them if they have heard of the writer, or if you are a member of a book club, ask them.

3. Read the reviews - both the good and the bad. Be aware that the first 10 or so reviews may be from supportive friends, family members of the writer or ‘advanced readers’ of the book and some writers do share ‘positive comments’ among each other. That is, if you write positive feedback for me, I will do the same for you.

However, it is important to remember that negative feedback is not always useful or reliable. There are trolls in the ether who will leave negative comments just because they can. Other reviewers will simply repeat the plot or offer feedback that is not constructive, for example: “I didn’t like it because I don’t like where it was located” or “I don’t like this genre”.

Read both good and bad to see if you can uncover a comment theme. Numerous comments about poor grammar or spelling are usually a sign of problems with the book.

4. Search online or Google it.  Search the name of the writer or book for bio’s, interviews or reviews.

5. Don’t over think it OR simply wait for the book to be reduced in price. One of the most common marketing tactics used by self published writers is to offer the book for free for a short period of time. Often, this is the first book in a series they have written and can be a good way to try an author or a story before making a purchase.

If you are not sure and the book is reduced, just do it. Self-published authors and the self published industry need the support of keen readers. Many books are inexpensive (or free) and if you don’t enjoy it, simply delete it and try the next one.

If you do, then show your support by leaving a positive review on the site you downloaded the book from, recommending the author to your friends or members of your book club and buying other titles by that author.