blogging · writers' corner

Let’s Chat // Re-Thinking the Books We Read #IndieAugust

Hey everyone!

Over the years, as Sophie’s Corner got onto its feet and gained more followers, I’ve gotten emails from writers asking me to read and review their book on my blog. Many of these works were in the YA genre and had fascinating synopses; they sounded like books that I would enjoy, that readers of this blog might enjoy reading about. Although I would agree to some of these requests, it quickly became apparent that I didn’t have the time to read and review all these books. And I felt bad about turning down all these requests. Even worse, I ended up not responding to a lot of these requests because I felt bad.

As you guys know, aside from reading YA novels and blogging about them, I’ve also been writing novels of my own. Over the past months, I’ve gotten to know the online writing community who are warm, friendly and always willing to help out or offer encouraging words. Many of these writers are unpublished like me. Others are published (independently or traditionally) and trying to promote their work. It made me think about the books that I read, review, and promote here on my blog.

I love the book blogging community. I’ve been with you guys for two years (approaching two and a half) and you guys constantly inspire me to push my limits when it comes to reading. I’ve discovered so many amazing books because of blogging, and these books have shaped my worldview and who I am as a person.

However, as an aspiring/amateur writer learning about the publishing industry, I also know that……. it’s hard to be a writer. In today’s technological day and age, there are SO many writers out there. It is hard to get your works recognized, whether you are traditionally published or self-published. The books and the writers that we talk about here on the book blogging community encompasses maybe only the top 1% or 2% of the YA fiction genre. The vast majority of books are unknown and under-recognized.

Which made me think… Does a book have to be famous to be a “good book”?

I would say no. Just like in any creative industry, be it film, music, or books, it takes not only talent and skill but a huge dose of luck to be successful. Just because a book is less well-known doesn’t mean that we won’t enjoy it. And just because a book sold millions of copies doesn’t mean that we will love. I’m sure we’ve all encountered examples of books that are uber-hyped, that everyone seems to love, that we don’t.

Going forward, I want to commit to reading more books that are less well-known, books that have less than thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of ratings on Goodreads and Amazon. I want to give them a chance, and I think I will be pleasantly surprised.

This also made me think: How else can I help promote YA writers who are less well-known? How can I connect YA writers to bloggers who want to read YA? That’s how the idea of Writers’ Corner came to me.

What is Writers’ Corner?

This will be a section of this blog which gives YA writers an opportunity to shine, through guest posts, author interviews, or an excerpt of their work. The purpose is to allow YA writers a chance to promote their work, and to expose the book blogging community to less well-known works in YA.

We’ll start off in the first two weeks with TWO posts per week on Mondays and Thursdays (while Sophie’s Corner goes on hiatus). In September, I am hoping to continue with Writers’ Corner as a weekly or biweekly feature.

Pssst…. If you are a writer and would like to contribute to Writers’ Corner, check out the About Section, then send me an email or tweet!

*Note that I did use the term “indie books” in the title of this blog post. While “indie” strictly only applies to books that have been self-published, many traditionally-published books also struggle to gain traction and attention (please correct me if I’m wrong!!) Writers’ Corner is not only intended for “indie” books, but also books that have been traditionally-published although less well-known in the book blogging community.

Do you read any works by indie writers or writers who are less well-known? Any suggestions or recommendations for Writers’ Corner posts?

39 thoughts on “Let’s Chat // Re-Thinking the Books We Read #IndieAugust

    1. Absolutely! I’d be glad to feature you or your work on this blog one day. Keep me posted πŸ™‚
      I haven’t thought too much about this yet, but in the future I might want to open this up to unpublished writers too?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hey Sophie, I love this topic! I don’t remember if I mentioned this to you, but I’m not interested in fame anymore, lol. Well, I used to desire fame in my junior high, but then I lost interest. Yes, I know lots of other writers want to make tons of money, become bestselling, reach thousands of readers, etc., but I find that I don’t care about that anymore, as though I’ve already outgrown that stage of my life. (I hope that doesn’t sound patronizing, and I believe that there’s a reason why we all have different attitudes and paths in life.)

    Sure, it would be nice to have some valued friends and acquaintances, maybe a few strangers, to read my books. But beyond that, I just have no interest in reaching masses of strangers. This is not because I’m trying to be cool or aloof, but because I’m just uninterested. (It’s like how most people want to be in a romantic relationship, but I don’t have the desire to be in one at all! Lol. Again, not because I’m trying to be special or holier-than-thou, but because I simply don’t have that want.)

    Let me clarify here that my attitude is not necessary (always) a good one. Some people criticize me for being unambitious or even “lazy” for not promoting myself, and reaching readers who might enjoy my work. On an intellectual level, yes, I get that it would be good to reach readers who might like my stuff, but on an emotional level, I feel really indifferent.

    It struck me a long time ago, that when writers listed their reasons to write, most of them described things like: inspiring /teaching/touching/entertaining others. For me, it would be nice to affect readers in such a positive way, but in all honesty, that’s a secondary, or even a tertiary reason for why I write. I write for mostly “selfish” reasons, such as to relax, to feel happy, to enjoy myself, for self-expression, to spend time with beloved characters, to play around with language, to simply have fun.

    In fact, maybe it’s because I’m pretty happy nowadays in my life, whether artistically, career-wise (I still have to find a job, but I’m in a field I love), or friendship-wise. Even my health has been improving overall. So I feel like my needs and desires have already been satisfied, and I feel confident and secure as a writer. Thus, fame, fortune, and popularity are all wholly unnecessary and extraneous to me. And therefore I feel indifferent.

    All in all, I feel peer pressure to care about popularity and reader outreach, but frankly speaking, I don’t care. I’m really just interested in playing around and having fun, lol.

    (N.B. I feel confident and secure about writing, not because I’m an amazing writer, but merely because I feel confident and secure in it, lol. Perhaps this is because I’ve finally gotten enough compliments that I’ve internalized them, for better or for worse. In addition, I feel so much trans pride and gay pride. Being gay and transgender actually helps to boost my self-esteem, lol, because I think gay and trans people are cool. πŸ˜€ I don’t mind associating with such an awesome community.)

    But if we’re talking about those who are interested in exposure and reaching a broader audience, yeah, I sympathize and support the effort to read lesser known authors. I read almost exclusively LGBTQ romances nowadays, and they are usually lesser known than cishet romances (save some exceptions, like Carry On by Rainbow Rowell). Furthermore, I made a list of self-published authors I enjoy reading from. There is still some stigma towards indie authors, sadly, but I’ve had many great experiences with indie books. Some self-published authors are actually bestselling too. And as you said, even traditionally published books can be lesser known. That’s really awesome that you’re dedicating time and energy to help authors promote themselves more! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Sieran!
      Yeah I think a lot of writers do aspire to be famous, and I think you’re right that “inspiring others” shouldn’t be our main focus of writing. We should also be in love with the act of creating characters and stories, or else we’ll burn out haha.
      I definitely dreamed about being a famous writer before however I think now I am being a bit more realistic with my goals, recognizing that being successful as a writer does not equate to being famous. However I think it’ll be pretty cool if I have even a small group of people who like reading my writing πŸ™‚
      I agree that there is some stigma towards indie writers, especially for people who are not acquainted with how the writing industry works. However I believe that there are many self-published works out there that are good quality. It’s just a matter of finding them πŸ™‚
      That’s great that you have a list of self-published authors that you follow. When it comes to indie writers, I get a bit overwhelmed because there are so many out there! How do you find books that you enjoy and writers that you like?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, there are so many different ways to define “success”, even in the realm of writing. And there are different degrees for any measure of success too. If someone aims for money, for example, do they mean being able to live off of their writing alone, without any other job to support them? This would be a difficult feat, even for those without children or other dependents. Or do they mean becoming fairly popular in the country (or state or province), such that they can live a comfortable life? Though not necessarily a luxurious or extravagant one. Or do they mean becoming a multi-millionaire?

        If someone wants fame and popularity, to what degree do they want it? To have hundreds of followers? Thousands of followers? One million + followers? (This goes for blogs too, not just for books and author pages.). For fame, does the person want to be famous in their city? In their province or state? In their country? Famous worldwide?

        Also, there’s a difference between fame among insiders vs fame among outsiders. For example, Chaucer (author of the Canterbury tales) is well-known among English majors, but he is not as well known outside of English majors and literary classic enthusiasts. (I have a friend who only knows Shakespeare… She has never even heard of Charlotte Bronte. Welp.) Similarly, Alessandra Hazard is relatively popular among gay romance readers. But she is much less known among readers who don’t indulge much in the LGBTQ romance genre.

        How about measuring success via book reviews? Do you need over 100 book reviews on Amazon/Goodreads? Over 200 reviews? Over a 1000 reviews? Also, how about the star rating? Do you need an average of 4+ stars on Goodreads to be happy? From experience, people tend to get higher ratings on Amazon than on Goodreads… Maybe because Goodreads lets you submit ratings without writing an actual review, lol, so you can get a larger sample of opinions, since some people are too busy or are not interested in writing a review for that book.

        How about the measure of success via reader opinions? This is about the actual feedback you get, rather than about the number of reviews you got, or the number of 4 or 5 star ratings you received. For example, several beta readers enjoyed your book. Or a bunch of readers who you don’t know give you some big, sincere compliments on your writing. Do comments from strangers feel more genuine than those from friends? Friends can give some genuine feedback too, especially if they are specific, rather than vague, comments.

        How about measures of success that come not from external sources, but from internal sources (yourself)? I feel successful when I write a sentence that makes me feel happy and excited, for instance. I also feel successful when I write a line or a plot event that makes me laugh. On the contrary, I feel less successful when I’m writing a scene that makes me feel bored or impatient.

        Hey I’ll answer your questions in a separate comment, as this comment is long enough already!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Absolutely. Success is subjective, and if we aim for external sources of validation (like you mentioned, money or fame) and compare ourselves to others, it is hard to be satisfied because wherever we are, there are always people who are more “successful”.

        I find that it is sometimes painful to rely on external measures of success because they are often outside of our control. For example, we can’t control how much fame we get, and sometimes it can be disappointing when the amount of effort we put in doesn’t match the amount of external “success” we get in return. On the other hand, we can control our internal measures of success. For example, I can set goals for myself (ie. two posts per week) and be satisfied when I meet these goals.

        However, it is also a hard feat to only rely on internal measures of success. First of all we are so immersed in the external world! Numbers and stats are all around us and it’s hard to avoid! Also, a lot of the external indicators of success are numerical (like you mentioned, number of ratings, amount of money earned) and it is easy for our brains to use these numbers to track our success. On the other hand, internal measures of success can be a bit more concrete. For example, one of my own goals is to “be a better writer”, but how can we quantify “better writing??”

        Very interesting discussion πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Okay, for your question on how to find those indie books and authors, here are some sources where I found mine:

        1) Friends and acquaintances who do indie publishing. Aside from irl friends, I also found people in Facebook writing groups, and on writing blogs.

        2) Smashwords.com , a site that only sells self-published ebooks. I pored through the fantasy section, and found some I really liked.

        3) Seeing what my fellow gay romance lover friends are reading on Goodreads.

        4) Recommendations from an author’s newsletter. A lot of gay romance authors I’ve subscribed to, link to some recommended indie books that they’ve enjoyed. Many authors recommend their friends’ books.

        5) Recommended books on Goodreads. The “Customers who book your book also bought” lists on Amazon.

        6) Bookbub sends you notifications of discounted books in the genres you ticked. Some of these books are self-published.

        7) I know some traditionally published authors I liked who switched to indie publishing, e.g. because they wanted to get the rights back to their book, they wanted more control over the editing and/or book cover, they find indie publishing to be a smarter financial choice, etc.

        About feeling overwhelmed by how many there are out there, one thing to keep in mind, is that you’ll never be able to read all of them. So you can just check out what you have in front of you. If you’re interested, you can buy it and try. Some books on Amazon let you take a peek inside, or to download a sample. Many books are available for free on Kindle Unlimited. Indie authors also tend to charge much lower prices than traditionally published authors do. Many indie authors even put out some very cheap or free books or short stories, to let people sample their writing. If a reader likes their style, the reader may want to read their other books as well.

        To me, books are like a buffet. There are lots of good (and not so good) stuff out there, but I’m not too bothered by how many there are, and I just enjoy eating what I have now. One at a time. There is a time and place for every book. I might even re-read books sometimes. It’s funny how I get overwhelmed by work and duties, but I don’t feel overwhelmed by books. Books are like an endless wonderland for me, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks for these recommendations! I took a look at Smashwords and it seems like there’s some great stuff on there πŸ™‚
        I LOVE the buffet analogy. Absolutely true. I definitely feel overwhelmed, even with the amount of popular traditionally published books on my TBR hahahaha. But you are right that there are so many awesome books out there and we can’t hope to ever read them all, and that is okay πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this! I actually really love reading “indie” books. Some of my favorites are published independently or by a small publisher. It’s great to spread awareness on those since sometimes we can become overrun with all the new releases and popular “famous” books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Molly!
      That’s awesome that you are a fan of indie books. Do you have any recommendations? I feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount of selection there is and I’m not sure where I should start! Also, do you review indie books on your blog as well?

      Like

  3. Oh Sophie, this is such a wonderful and thoughtful idea! ❀ You are so right, success in publishing a book has A LOT to do with luck. There must be so many amazing books out there that have gone under the radar. I'm really looking forward to reading about them in your new feature! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such an amazing and interactive idea!
    There are so many wonderful books out thee, but a lot of them I didn’t even know existed until I hit the blogosphere! The Writer’s Corner is such a wonderful idea. Will it also include some tips fro writers who are trying to get motivation?
    – Emma πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Emma!
      Thank you! Glad to hear that you like this idea. Yeah book blogging in general has introduced me to many books that I wouldn’t have heard about otherwise. Writers’ Corner will have some tips for writers. For the author interviews coming up, I’ve included some questions where authors can tell us about their publishing experience (self or traditional) as well as tips for aspiring writers. There will be a guest post with writing tips as well! Do you write as well Emma? πŸ™‚

      Like

      1. They say that the key to being a good writer is to read a lot, so you are on the right track! That’s great that you’ve been writing short stories, which sounds like a great place to start πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  5. What a wonderful idea, Sophie!! πŸ₯° There are so many underrated books and authors out there that also deserve more love and recognition – I always like discovering new stories that I wouldn’t have found otherwise! πŸ™‚ I hardly read any indie authors, so getting recommendations would be great πŸ’•

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Caro! Glad that you like this idea. Yes there are definitely some underrated books that deserve more recognition! I am new to indie books as well. Unfortunately because of limited time, I couldn’t read all of the books that are featured in the upcoming posts (although from the description they definitely do sound interesting!) Hope that you will like this feature πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I feel like since coming into blogging I’ve found so many indie authors. I know my blog isn’t about books, but I enjoy reading them so much. Sometimes I feel like I could do a tag “Modern Books I’ve read with over 1000 goodread ratings”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Esther! That’s awesome that you’ve found a lot of indie authors. Wondering if you have any tips about finding indie books that I will like? I am still feeling a bit overwhelmed because the universe of indie books is so big!
      I think that is a great idea for a tag!! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Sophie,
        Recently my friend Angels R Watts came out with a dystopian ya book, The Divided Nation. I don’t usually read that genre so I don’t know how it compares. This year I’ve also enjoyed books by:
        Lauren Nicolle Taylor
        Annie Douglass Lima
        REBECCA CHASTAIN
        Urcelia Teixeira
        Grace Bridges
        Matthew David Brough
        Erica Laurie
        Nikki McCormack
        I’m not a hundred percent sure they are all indie authors, but most of them have less than a thousand ratings per book on goodreads.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Emme! Here on the blogosphere we hear so much about hyped books, so they are hard to avoid. I definitely need to spend time on less hyped books as well πŸ™‚ Thank you ❀

      Like

  7. I think this is a brilliant idea Sophie, and I can’t wait to see the first post in your Writer’s Corner series. πŸ™‚ There are so many underrated books out there, and I know some of them are likely to be amazing, it’s just finding them when the mainstream books have much more buzz and marketing you know? A book doesn’t have to be mainstream to be good, and a book being mainstream doesn’t automatically mean it’s good either.
    Hopefully this feature will give me some new book recommendations to check out that I may not have realised were out there waiting for me. πŸ™‚ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Beth!
      Yeah it’s definitely much easier to find mainstream and popular books since they are everywhere we look. I’ve always relied on the number of reviews and ratings that a book has on Goodreads as an indicator of how “good” a book is. However in the future I definitely want to explore indie books a bit more πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much ❀

      Like

      1. Exactly, and a lot of the time I’m influenced by hype which is solely for mainstream books everywhere we look. The two kind of go together don’t they? I think you can still use ratings for indie books, just maybe not the number of reviews and rating you know? If it’s only got five five star reviews that’ll be a good book in my mind.
        That’s all right. πŸ™‚ ❀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah I think that’s true. Mainstream books tend to appeal to a broad audience, so I think they have a better chance to become popular and hyped than books that are non-mainstream.
        You’re right that we can rely on ratings for indie books as well πŸ™‚

        Like

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