Author Topic: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books  (Read 2396 times)  

Offline bakerjw

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How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
« on: February 27, 2012, 09:40:11 am »
I know the subject is kind of wide open and this is kind of a rant of sorts, but I've just been once again bitten by self published mediocrity. Any aspiring author with 100 friends can get listed on Amazon with reviews heralding their writing as the greatest novel ever written. Be aware that you will get flamed pretty badly if you ever do write a review pointing out that the novel was one step above garbage.

It's getting to the point where I'll go into book stores to see what new material is being published by legitimate publishers. Does anyone here have any search tricks that they use for wading through the 5 star laded field of sub par writing? It is bad enough that my Kindle is becoming less and less useful.

Thanks for any insights.

And please don't get me wrong. I am very supportive of up and coming authors but good ones are becoming hard to find.

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    Offline Nebula7

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #1 on: February 27, 2012, 10:42:05 am »
     I go directly to my favorite reputable publishers websites and see what they have available or coming up. I also check a list of blogs that I find honest about reviewing books. Book stores are good but in my town the only book store closed.

    As for Amazon make sure you look at the other reviews that reviewers have written. I've noticed with many of the self published books most of the reviewers have no other reviews. Kind of odd wouldn't you say? To me all they are is friends or the author themself writing the reviews.

    Check out the author's website. If he or she doesn't have one then read a different book.

    Offline BTackitt

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #2 on: February 27, 2012, 11:05:47 am »
    I browse review sites. I can see why books get rated well or poorly and have faith and trust in the reviews:
    http://booksandpals.blogspot.com/search/label/Sci-Fi
    http://redadeptreviews.com/category/science-fiction/
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    Offline 31842

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #3 on: February 27, 2012, 12:41:31 pm »
    I think this is also where following a specific blog reviewer can be valuable, too.  For instance, in my local paper there is a reviewer with the exact opposite taste of me.  I know everything he like, I'll hate and visa versa.  It's counter intuitive, but it works.  There are several blogs I follow closely because their reviewers seem to have similar tastes to mine.

    Similarly on Goodreads, I follow several people who have the same taste in books that I have and I know that when they give something five-stars, it's probably going to be something I'll enjoy.  While reviews on seller sites are helpful, you're getting a blanket of tastes which may or may not align with your own.  Goodreads let's you narrow down the field a little.  Listen, some people are Twilight people, some people are Harry Potter people.  There's no real right or wrong to that division, but I think it is important to make sure you're getting your recommendations from the camp you belong.

    Offline bakerjw

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #4 on: February 27, 2012, 03:35:55 pm »
    Very good points and good resources. Definitely got me pointed in the right direction.

    It is so darn frustrating to buy a book only to realized that the reviews had been padded.

    Offline Ben White

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #5 on: February 27, 2012, 03:40:27 pm »
    Have you tried Goodreads or LibraryThing?  There are people/groups there dedicated to snuffling out the great from the mediocre. Could be good places to start.
    There are some who call me Iseult the Sheep, Honorary Knight of the Beige Bar.


    Offline Geoffrey

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #6 on: February 27, 2012, 04:42:27 pm »
    This is an unfortunate side to the rise of indie publishing.   There are some great things being.g produced out there but also a lot of dreck.  Most of us have had the same thing happen and have learned to screen.  The sites mentioned are good tools.  It's also good to find people who's opinions you trust.

    When searching Amazon, here are some of my guidelines when screening ... and I do this for all books under 5 bucks ...

    -  1 or 2 sentence 5-star reviews don't count
    -  If all reviews are 5-star, assume some are from friends.  Any reviewer with only that 1 review, I assume is a friend.
    -  any reviews mentioning grammatical errors are assumed to be correct and with rampant errors.  I move one to the next book.

    If I'm still interested after reading the reviews, then I'll move on to sampling .....



    Offline NogDog

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #7 on: February 27, 2012, 05:21:41 pm »
    You could join some of us on the GoodReads.com SciFi and Fantasy e-Book club for some ideas. :)

    Offline Darlene Jones

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #8 on: February 27, 2012, 05:53:08 pm »
    Have you read Robert J. Sawyer's books?
    Darlene Jones, Author

    Offline Geemont

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #9 on: February 27, 2012, 09:45:09 pm »
    You also have to read through the reviewer's bias and inclinations.  Some readers may not like slow, ponderous tomes, bemoaning the lack of action and story, and give the book 1 or 2 stars.  That clues me in that I might enjoy the book.  If the reviewer drools over the breakneck pace and proclaims the novel has excellent potential for a movie, I know it's some I should probably skip.

    I once forgo this kind of judgement for a novel that got almost universal 4 and 5 star from everyone, but, IMHO, was only fit for stacking in an outhouse.  So it's important to not look at the reviews, but read them critically.  If looking at Goodreads, peruse what the reviews tastes in 5 and 1 star books are.  It's all relative.

    Offline flipside

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #10 on: February 27, 2012, 10:03:37 pm »
    Personally, I listen to what certain book bloggers or critics are excited about.

    Of course I need to screen them as well. Some reviewers, for example, are the complete opposite to my taste, so not much value for me in agreeing with their evaluation.

    Offline jbcohen

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #11 on: February 28, 2012, 08:00:31 am »
    Well I have found there to be two main publishers of Sci-fi books: TOR and Baen, I have found that books published by baen tend to be quite good, perhaps its their screening methods to keep those that can't write out of the company.

    Offline Rook

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #12 on: February 28, 2012, 07:59:44 pm »
    Before I buy anything, I ALWAYS download the sample preview. You can tell by the first page or the first paragraph-- heck, even the first line-- whether it's garbage or not. And it's free, so there's nothing to lose but 60 seconds.

    As for finding suggestions in the first place, word of mouth from friends has always kept my reading list pretty full, but I find asking for a specific type of book on this forum garners plenty of worthy suggestions. Just open a thread asking for suggestions that are "like Heinlein" or "good dystopian novels" or whatever you're in the mood for or enjoyed in the past. Then download some samples and pick for yourself.
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    Offline yogini2

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #13 on: February 28, 2012, 09:56:46 pm »
    I check out to see which books are up for awards.  I check out the short lists for the Hugo Awards and the Nebula Awards for Science Fiction.  Then I see if it's available on Kindle.  Then I read a few reviews.  Then I check the price.  Then I buy or at least get the sample.

    Offline Hugh Howey

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #14 on: February 29, 2012, 06:09:25 am »
    How often do you all browse the free side of the Kindle store? Or check out the Hot New Releases list or the Highest Rated list?

    It would be most helpful to hear more about how you discover new writers.
     
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    Offline BTackitt

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #15 on: February 29, 2012, 06:10:49 am »
    I discover 90% of new to me writers right here at KB via sig lines & good posting habits.
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    Offline Jim Chaseley

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #16 on: February 29, 2012, 07:18:12 am »
    Avoiding the drek...There's probably a terribly written, self-published eBook about that very subject! 5-star review from the author's favourite granny.

    I had a crack at a free sci-fi eBook as my first "punt" on a self-published author. It turned out be..."okay". Since then that author has released a second edition, which he now charges for (and a sequel). But it makes me think, why didn't you just hold on a little longer and polish that first edition? I doubt I'll read your second, and thus it's no use to me that your first is now slightly better....or at least, it might be, I've moved on. Sorry.

    I'd definitely be interested in finding some good review sites, particularly for sci-fi, as I'm trying to break out of my sci-fi comfort zone and am thus straying into the Minefields of Drek. There are safe paths through the danger, I've just got to find the coaked beacons.

    BTackitt: As a new writer, it's a comfort to know that good posting habits can be picked up on by readers. I already posted a thread about how I have to bite my own fist sometimes to avoid peddling my filthy wares in the wrong places. "Hey, that guy's describing his ideal read...sounds like my book! Must not post....Argh!"

    Offline WillPetersen

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #17 on: February 29, 2012, 09:23:53 am »
    You can also check out some Facebook outlets, such as http://www.facebook.com/Quickie.Book.Reviews and www.facebook.com/BookWorms.BooksMagazinesEReaders, for info on mainstream and indie books. :)

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    Offline Neil Ostroff

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #18 on: February 29, 2012, 11:56:19 am »
    I agree. Reviews don't mean much today. It's been said that if 100 people like something maybe 10 will tell their friends. But if 100 people hate something most of those will tell their friends about that bad experience. Read the first chapter to decide on a good book.

    Offline churlishfellow

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #19 on: February 29, 2012, 02:02:10 pm »
    My thanks as well to all the good replies on this thread.  I've been dealing with the same dilemma.  Aside from wading through poorly written books, there's also the challenge of finding a unique story idea.  My 9 year old son will tell me all about a book that he claims to be the best thing since sliced bread where, in my mind, I'm thinking of all the books that had done the exact same thing, years and years before.  But, to him, it's an amazing work because he hasn't gone through that particular story thread before. 

    I will be visiting the suggested links others have posted.

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    Offline Mel Odious

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #20 on: March 01, 2012, 07:18:59 am »
    The first few paragraphs from Look Inside work for me.  Amazon has been unpublishing some of the worst, but to be fair, even paper sci-fi is mainly pulp formula.  I was reminded of this the other night at a used book store where my daughter and I were going through the sci-fi section and comparing opening chaps from books that were in many cases published decades apart.  (Spoiler Alert: There will be a "council" ... a fallen heir apparent ... and a war brewing.  But the other-worldly transportation, sex, and breakfast will blow your mind).
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    Offline JennDu

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #21 on: March 01, 2012, 10:21:30 am »
    I'd suggest downloading a sample first. If you like the first chapter, it seems probable that you'd enjoy the rest of the book. Otherwise, you can also download the complete work "flip through" the locations and check the rest. It's like anything else. Just because a book comes from a mainstream publisher, it doesn't mean it'll be any good.

    Offline jumbojohnny

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #22 on: March 01, 2012, 11:34:50 am »
    Reviews are the best thing, but, beware of unrelenting seas of 5 stars, that always seems dodgy. Best go with ones which have more higher ratings than lower (ok, that's obvious I know but still worth pointing out), but, ironically, also has some dissenters. It doesn't matter about the genre with this, you can find what you find sci fi wise just the same as with romance, war, anything.

    Offline jumbojohnny

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #23 on: March 02, 2012, 03:23:45 am »
    Piers Anthony's stuff is not only good (but some are heavy on the erotic), but look for his early stuff and you'll probably find other gems from other authors alongside.

    Offline qrobles

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    Re: How to find GOOD SciFi e-books
    « Reply #24 on: March 09, 2012, 06:26:46 am »
    I'm with you, tkkenyon. I follow SF Signal on Twitter (@sfsignal) and follow a lot of their links about new science fiction offerings, to see what's up.
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