The Amazing World of Self-Published Books

Tom CashBlog Posts, HumorLeave a Comment

Getting a book published is hard – really hard – so it’s no surprise that with the advent of eReaders such as the Nook and the Kindle, indie publishing has exploded in the last five years or so. With the introduction of Amazon Unlimited – a pay service that allows users to download a large selection of books at no cost – this has become even more prevalent, in part due to the fact that Amazon is raking in cash and screwing indie authors over in the process.

businessman giving the middle finger

Pictured: Amazon’s indie author payout policy

A byproduct of this is a general softening of the quality of work available to consumers. Literally anyone can get their work listed on Amazon. That means that any marginally talented hack who has written a few pieces of fan fiction can delude themselves into thinking that they have what it takes to become a professional freelance novelist.

This alone wouldn’t be so terrible if it weren’t for the fact that a significant portion of these self-published books suffer from a serious lack of editing, and a general lack of understanding of the industry. In addition to these books being well-nigh unreadable, the authors don’t even know how to sell the damn things. The taglines are meaningless, the synopses are poorly written and loaded with hyperbole (often indicative of the content of the books), and the cover art looks like something which has been cobbled together in MS Paint by a drunk.

Jeff Goldblum Jurassic Park quote

I own a Paperwhite Kindle; it’s my second one, my first one having been stepped on, and therefore crushed. I opted for the cheaper model, which displays advertisements for recently released books whenever a user is not actively reading a book. As such, I am exposed to many absurd indie titles which I simply must share.

Legend of the Satan Killer

Let’s just get the cover image out of the way, so we can get on to the important part. Basically, this was the author’s notes to the, uh, “illustrator”: “No, it looks great. No need to change a thing. People don’t need to know my first name.”

So how many titles does this book need? Based on the book cover, the title is Legend of the Satan Killer: Far across the universe; no need to capitalize the subtitle, I suppose. However, the book’s description (which we’ll get to in just a moment) suggests that the title is actually, Legend of the Satan Killer: Far across the universe – Supernatural Encounters. So which is it? Did the author even think this through?

Based on the subject matter and its presentation, I’m going to suggest that “thinking things through” is not his strong suit. The following is, copied verbatim, the description of the book. Apparently nobody ever told Ike Austin that a synopsis is not, in fact, a copy and paste of the first five chapters of the book.

NEWLY EDITEDSupernatural Encounters
Based on some true eventsEarth’s sun is not the largest in the universe; our sun is a dot compared to other suns; likewise, Satan’s power is minuscule compared to what I have seen in deep space. There are things in the vast universe, heading toward our galaxy.These supernatural entities have no covenant with man. Once they arrive, our galaxy including Earth will be at risk. My Third Eye connected with their minds—I see what they see; hear what they hear; looking into their eyes I see the unseen, danger is approaching.Of all the most astonishing things, I saw with my Third Eye…One night while lying on my back looking up at the night sky, my Third Eye opened, which allowed me to see the unseen.Earth has six populated moons, one is larger than Earth. The non-populated moon seen with the naked eye is the smallest of the cluster. The other five moons are invisible to human sight. These moons are heavily populated by horrendous nocturnal beings called Ma-ca-ta—or throughout history and in many cultures known as “The Boogiemen.” At night, they descend to Earth en masse by the millions.Over time, I slowly allowed myself to believe the things that I experienced in Third Eye dreams, really happened. I began to analyze and accept the many strange experiences—the arrival of the angry hosts that invaded my bedroom one morning—to deliver me a most stern message, the all mighty beings masquerading as clouds down by a mysterious river that shared unwritten wisdom of nature, the time I was staring face to face into two deep dark eyes of physical evil kneeling at my bedside; my left wrist held firmly in his grip. Even at this writing, I had a small sense of denial about these truths—until I happened upon one called… “the DayStar.”During my travels DayStar summoned “Aix.”Aix slowly floated out of an invisible abyss, gliding slowly toward my direction. After several minutes of silence, Aix was simultaneously, cleverly manipulated vertical bands of shadows to conceal, and reveal only what it wanted me to see…“dreams, and shadows are reality” he whispered.But I am in deep waters now, I am allowing my mind to embrace things I have long denied and fought, unseen things, cryptic symbols, strange entities. All my life I could see a parallel reality that made me hesitate every time the thought of going deeper into a descent entered my mind. Thirty years ago I recalled a dream about a fish with a man’s eye; the fish warned me that it was near time for me to “step out into the deeper waters.”So deeper I went. In one of my many descent explorations into other worlds, I would stumble upon a most fearsome beast.My whole life, I constantly lived with many unanswered questions;

Why was I terrorized as a child by nocturnal creatures that invade my bedroom at night? Why did the strange clouds down by the river share many hidden truth? Why did a garrison of powerful beings invade my room one morning? Why am I allowed to see esoteric symbols of the unknown? More perplexing, how am I connected to those animated all wise clouds? How are the evil empires I discovered high above Earth my brother?

In seeking answers to these questions, my fifty-year long saga would lead me across many galaxies, transcend through a multitude of dimensions using a method of travel I invented called descent level location.

My excursions into unknown worlds begin long ago starting with the strange evil intruder standing in the darkest corners of my bedroom at night. My lifelong quest will lead to a surprising revelation of my connection to the mysterious cloud formations that reside down by the hidden river.

Earth must deal with four approaching greater evils, three are already here. It is the imminent arrival of the fourth, when real danger begins.

Enter the Satan Killers.

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Let me ask you a question: Would you buy this book? If it were free, would you read this book? I kind of want to read it for the comedy value, but to be honest, I don’t even want to read the thing I just shared. I suppose if I were a clinical psychologist, I might want to read this in order to get some insight into whatever mental illness from which Mr. Austin happens to suffer.

sad devil

This book makes Satan sad.

At the low cost of $2.99, this book is still too expensive, which is a shame, because I really want to do a dramatic reading of it.

By the way: NEWLY EDITED. That implies that this has been edited. Can you imagine what a mess it was before it was edited?

Plumber Speaks

God, where to begin? How about the fact that Sherman couldn’t be bothered to wearing something nice for the cover of his book? The bucket hat, the wife beater over top of the long sleeve tee, the tinted lenses that only creepy dudes wear; this is a man you can trust to stare at your crotch and lick his lips while you’re waiting for the crosstown bus.

The author’s bio states that he suffered a massive stroke in the mid-1990’s, so I’m going to give him a pass on not having bothered to sit up straight for the photo. Recovered or not, the dude spent twenty difficult years working on his rehabilitation; if he wants to lounge, let him lounge.

Still, the cover of this book is utterly inexcusable. In addition to the picture, there is the problem of the title. “Plumber speaks”, written in sentence case. Really? Not “The Plumber Speaks”, or “Plumber Talk” or even “How to Speak Plumber”? Also, I think it goes against most style guides to put a subtitle in parentheses.

My favorite part, however, is the synopsis:

“Plumber Speaks” (First estimating book with “FREE” plumbing answers for Homeowners and Ladies) “Plumber Speaks” book answers the 50 most asked plumbing questions “FREE” which gives Homeowners and Ladies greater savings. This book gives 50 “FREE” special plumbing tips for 100% additional savings also.

What makes this book special? It is the only plumbing and estimating answering book giving “FREE” answers and “FREE” tips that saves Homeowners and Ladies greater value for greater savings. Buy-now for guaranteed savings.

It would seem that the articulating himself is not Sherman’s strong suit. Considering he wrote an instructional book, that’s a problem. Fiction is fraught with terrible writers, but non-fictional works which may amount to the difference between a working sink and a flooded basement should probably be clear and concise.

This synopsis is not clear and concise.

$7.99 is not, you will note, actually free. Maybe that’s why it’s in quotes. Quotes are often misused, but in this case, I think Sherman (I just like saying his name) knew exactly what he was doing. By “FREE”, he means “FOR $7.99”.

In addition to also additionally also getting 50 answers to also additionally 50 questions, you additionally also additionally get 50 free tips for an additional also 100% off, for an additional also total of 200% also, which unfortunately does not mean that Sherman will pay you $15.98 to read this book. Additionally.

“Buy now” is typically not hyphenated. In fact, it is never hyphenated, ever, under any circumstances.


And don’t think that I’ve overlooked the whole “Ladies and Homeowners” thing. Oh no, not at all. If anything, that’s the part that should be highlighted and underlined, with a red circle drawn around it and a neon arrow pointing at it and flashing.

I’m no bleeding heart, but I take to take issue that the implication that (A) Homeowner and Ladies fall into two distinct categories, and (B) that plumbing is somehow an innately endowed male trait which is far too complicated for the simple female mind. What the fuck, is this the 1960’s?

cast of Mad Men

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, sugar. With this book, even an idiot like you can understand plumbing!”

He might as well just market it to women as “the perfect book to read aloud to your husband while he fixes the hot water heater before you go fix him a nice dinner”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know shit about plumbing, and pretty nobody else I know – other than plumbers – does, either. It’s a pretty specialized field. Maybe the term, “laymen” or “laymen and lay-Ladies” might have been more appropriate.


About the Author

Tom Cash

Hi! I'm Tom. I am on a journey of constant self-improvement, and I'm thankful that you've chosen to join me. I'd love to hear from you.