By Letitia Coyne
Posted June 21, 2012
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On May 9th, 2012, at Accredited Online Colleges someone without a byline to credit blogged about the 9 Signs Self-Publishing Is out of Control.
Do you groan when you hear that? I did. Then I groaned again when I read the opening gambit:
“To paraphrase the immortal words of Truman Capote, there’s a difference between writing and typing. And, to put it gently, we can say with a good amount of confidence that most self-published books were typed, not written …. Until recently, the publishing industry had been our sea wall, protecting us from a tidal wave of boring life stories and dreadful novels. But now, the ease of self-publishing threatens to drown us all in mediocrity. Here are nine signs the situation is out of control.”
The nine signs were:
Yes, so it’s all malarkey and you have the link there if you want to go and read it for yourself.
Who cares if there are millions of books to choose from? No one. Those who want their filtering done for them can still go to their local bookstore and find a bit of what they fancy carefully filed under headings they understand. Others can find enough of what they want everywhere.
The only point that I found interesting was the idea that many pundits – [One author is quoted who does not believe that the one Guardian article published was correct, but noted that there had been some discussion on Goodreads about the possibility] think the self-publishing bubble might be about to burst.
First, I think, there has to be some major money invested and made for any kind of major bubble bursting catastrophe, and I don’t think that has happened to any great degree. Mostly, people have invested small amounts of their own capital in their own work and either done well enough to be encouraged further, or given up and gone to bed. I have written before about my concern over vanity presses ripping people off, but there will always be wolves.
What I do think will happen, and has perhaps begun, is reality will inevitably set in. For most authors, even under the guidance of traditional publishing, there was never a lot of money to be made. This argument has been yelled loudly, and for years, by many of us inside and outside the digital box. It didn’t stop people trying their luck fifty years ago and it didn’t stop the rush this time.
Because some of the big names made a good living, the self-publishing revolution had a bit of the goldrush sort of feel to it for many self-publishing starters. It is still rushing now, but we might well be riding the peak and I think that dream, like all goldrushes, is passing now and leaving some a bit broke and others a bit disheartened.
But for authors who wanted to write the book they wrote, and to tell the story they told, it was well worth the effort. Storytelling is about telling stories, and too many bloggers would like it to be about capital gain. Writers who only want to make money either will or won’t, depending on how determined they are and how good they are at marketing. Bad books sell well in the traditional world; the same is true in self-publishing. Good self-published books without the drive behind them and the sales pitch will languish; the same is true in the traditional world.
The only thing that might remain forever changed is the number of authors who put their work out on the shelves. Whether for sale or for free, there will likely always be many more books to choose from now. I will not buy the mantra that quantity always means poor quality. It has become harder to find the best – or at least that which best suits each individual – for many readers.
And that is another necessary change I think is coming now, and will increase in momentum – the ways we find to direct traffic and advertising so the right readers get to the right books. I am at last – at last, let me hear an hallelujah!! – hearing people everywhere demanding that their friends stop spamming. It is finally being recognized that the idea of putting yourself front and centre and yelling in the face of every passer by does not endear you to readers.
I am waiting to see which processes prove to have remained stable as the great wash rushes by.
Readers do need help to find good books. Humans generally do not thrive on overwhelming choice, and I’m guessing that abhorrence of a vacuum will ensure that whatever the need here is, it will be met. We will work out the best ways to join reader and writer in the vastness of the web.
Sadly, the one thing that does not seem to have changed yet is the idea of intellectual snobbery. If you cannot find yourself a good book to read, anywhere, and are being drowned in out-of-control mediocrity, you might want to look at your own search skills. Maybe do an accredited course.
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