Self-published authors with their insistent need to spam social media and pump out a copious amount of horrible ebooks are ruining the modern online bookstore. You can’t browse Kobo, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon without running into a maelstrom of poorly written and poorly edited books. All of these bookstores put indie authors’ books side by side with established authors, who are signed to a publishing company. Social media is also a breeding ground for people to try and hustle their books and literally beg for sales.
Bowker Market Research reported last week that self-published ebooks now account for 12% of the entire digital publishing market. In some cases, the number actually rises to a very respectable 20%, but is fairly genre specific to crime, science fiction, fantasy, romance, and humor. 95% of these books are insufferable and are written to capitalize on trends in publishing, with authors trying to emulate successful writers such as E.L. James or Cassandra Claire.
At a recent publishing conference in London, Andrew Franklin, founder and managing director of Profile Books, blasted authors who self-publish. “The overwhelming majority of self-published books are terrible—unutterable rubbish, they don’t enhance anything in the world.” He ranted on by saying, “These books come out and are met with a deathly silence, so the principle experience of self-publishing is one of disappointment. I was very shocked to learn you can buy Facebook friends and likes on social media. That is what passes for affirmation in what I think is the deeply corrupt world of self-publishing.”
I am inclined to agree with Andrew. Take a look at Amazon, the only quality control it employs is Kindle Serials and its official publishing imprints. All of their other self-publishing programs do not have anyone proofreading or editing the books. These ebooks are then listed side by side with mainstream books. This makes the process of quality ebook discovery a very time consuming effort. Not to mention the onslaught of auto-generated books, written by scripts and Public Domain Books, retitled and put up for sale. GoodReads was basically purchased by Amazon, because it sought to bring some measure of separating the good books from the terrible.
Smashwords is one company that is one of the guiltiest in encouraging writers to try and market their books on the internet. The company even provides a free ISBN number and will list your book for sale on Sony, iBooks, Kobo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many others. It will ACCEPT anything, though most amateur fan-fiction is better, because at least those authors are trying and fanatically loyal to their subject matter.
Good e-Reader has around 3,000 Twitter Followers and over 5,000 Facebook friends. Not a day goes by that I don’t see people asking for ebook sales. “BUY MY BOOK!” No marketing, no reason to buy it, JUST BUY IT! The vast majority of indie authors have no concept on how to legitimately market a book title and just encourage people to BUY! #ihateebooks
One thing indie authors have done is devalue the work of legitimate published authors. You know the type that write for a living, who have an editor and are considered accomplished, or at least well-read. The average indie title is $0.99 to $2.99, and the average publisher price is $7.99 – $12.99. Book buyers have been so conditioned to pay as little as possible that often they will not even consider a more expensive book.
The vast majority of self-published authors definitely incur my everlasting ire, but hybrid authors gain my respect. Often, these folk cut their teeth with major publishers and now self-publish for a little bit more control. Bella Andre is a fine example of a self-publisher; she got a major deal and went back to self-publishing. She has done very well.
I don’t know how many more paranormal romances or erotica clones I can stomach before I got completely berserk. Sure self-publishing MAY pay for a few bills, but at the expense of modern literature.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.