As the fad of authors publishing their own work continues to gain popularity and momentum, so does one prevailing question: What will this trend do to the books on the current market? I am not talking about the inevitable downfall of bookstores and the recent closure of all Borders. What I am referring to is the notion that if the ivory towers of the big six no longer stand between an aspiring writer and his or her dream of publication, what does that do the quality of books now available? Some would instinctually say that the quality of books would decrease significantly. This article would certainly lead one to think so. While the general tone of the article is negative and implies a flood of mediocre writing flooding the market, it does make a valuable point:
With the volume of new work hitting the Internet each day, it stretches credulity to think that so many people have been laboring in their rooms for so many years and now is their moment to shine. Then again, readers aren’t exactly being asked to commit a fortune to trying out many of these new authors — 99 cents is less than you’re likely to pay for a daily newspaper these days. Lower prices have made readers more tolerant of less-than-perfect prose (hey, you get this newsletter for free, so I’m sure you can tolerate a mistake or three).
However, this same argument was vocalized when journalism began to be slowly replaced by bloggers. The interesting fact about that development was that many local news blogs had more thorough coverage of news because they weren’t divided between multiple assignments and covering for a downsized staff. Every emerging trend is faced with opposition claiming that its the total ruin of what came before it. And, yes, some developments lead to the collapse of other industries- word processor to computer, vhs to dvd, and cd to mp3. However, that is no reason to fight such growth. However, the major concern on the part of people who write articles like the one mentioned in this post is that writers will no longer be vetted and just anyone can release a book. Oh the humanity! Artists releasing their work to the world without the political loopholes and industry hoop-jumping. As a recently self-published author, I have my own strong opinion about the validity of such a method. However, putting that aside, as a reader, I feel that it’s a positive move that publishing companies are no longer the gate keepers. So what that I have to do the vetting and the filtering? Yes, it’s more likely that I’ll stumble upon something that hasn’t been properly edited. However, I will also see more original work. And the trend I am most excited about is that writers will be setting the trends in their genres, not the big six. So, the reason that I mentioned the article was not just to argue against it, but also to point out the comments on it. Here is my personal favorite (actually two comments by the same writer):
Yes, Brittany is correct in that the market will correct any writer that puts out less-than-stellar work. Sure readers might buy the first book out of curiosity, but the second or third? More than likely not. Think of it as selection of the fittest.
I also found Carol’s comment regarding “those in the industry” amusing as well. The time when the bulk of us have to care about what “those in the industry” thinks is well over.
RJ is correct. The readers are driving the market now and will buy whatever they want, from whoever they want. “Those in the industry” are in a panic right now, scrambling to adjust to catastrophic royalty collapse.
So those “in the industry” can have an issue with the route by which I published my books and not take my work seriously (which they frequently do) while I watch my royalties climb. I am totally cool with that
As I like to say… “Dinosaur, meet mammal.”
I may be small, but I am fast and adaptable
And a follow-up…
I was just wondering who are these “safeguards” put up for? The reader? And why exactly must the reader be protected?
Now with sampling and instant returns is the reader at risk at all?
If they don’t like the book, for whatever reason, they can get their money back. Far more simply than they ever could through a bookstore.
I find it amusing that so many people are worried about “the reader,” as if they were fragile and vulnerable, even though “the reader” is the one embracing self-published authors the most and driving indie authors such as John Locke into the #1 spot on Amazon.
I have many “traditionally published” friends and I can tell you that I am making far more royalties then they are per month.