When I started on this journey of reviewing quality self-published e-books, I had an idea of what I would find. I hadn’t read any self-published books that I liked at that point. I admit, for a long time I was prejudiced against them and hadn’t read many self-published books at all. Then I found there was a lot more junk than gold coming out of traditional publishing houses. It seemed to me that for every creative idea, there were 200 copy-cats published within the year. When I found out that the marketing department gets the final word on whether a book is published, all I could think about was the hodgepodge business of marketing:
Marketing is more concerned about whether they can sell a product than if it’s actually good. They would rather tag debut novels with labels such as “for fans of Harry Potter” or “Twilight readers will fall in love with this paranormal romance.” As far as I can tell, marketing books is about guessing what will be most popular next. Needless to say, my respect for traditional publishers dwindled when their quality decreased.
There were others things I learned about traditional publishers that put me off as well, and I became ever more convinced that writers need to take control. As writers, we may not know much about selling our products, but there are so many resources we can use that the inexperience is irrelevant. The important thing is concerning ourselves with the quality of our work. The only way writers can take control is if we are producing top-quality books.
Because of all the copy-cat books in the bookstores, I thought that I would have to wade through more in the self-publishing world. To my amazement, I haven’t sifted through any wannabes. What I’ve found are gifted story-tellers with creative ideas. I’m intrigued by many of the descriptions. Unfortunately, the amateur writer gets in the way of the story. I can tell that most of these writers have never been published before. They lack polish. What pains me the most is that they are settling for a third-draft finish when their books could be so much better. I am afraid that these self-published writers feel justified through customer ratings and reviews. Two hundred reviews are not enough to prove a book’s quality through customer feedback.
I want to plead with writers to take more pride in their work. Editing is difficult as a self-published writer because they usually do not have the advantage of an experienced editor or agent. To writers I say, Be a student of your craft. Read books that you like and identify why you like them. Read blogs about writing like Query Shark, or Brian W. Foster. Join a writing group. Critique other people’s work and accept criticism. Always practice and edit until every word is perfect.
I believe that together we can do it. Writers can take charge of the quality of published literature. We just have to hold ourselves to a higher standard.