One of the book sites I follow, GalleyCat, regularly publishes a listing of the top bestsellers among self-published works. And when I browse for new fodder for my kindle account, Amazon recommends almost as many self-published books as books published by traditional publishing houses. I haven’t taken the plunge yet. I’m afraid that when I think of self-published books, I imagine the authors like this:
I’m not proud of my prejudice. I know there are writers out there who self-publish who produce entertaining and well-written books. But the reviews I’ve seen on Amazon for many of them point out that they would have enjoyed the books were it not for the lack of editing. And some of the plot descriptions I’ve read turn me off completely, either because they sound absolutely mental (and not in a good way) or boring and unoriginal.
But I’ve also heard the opinion from other book bloggers and publishing watchers that point out that self-publishing might be the wave of the future. Publishing houses are consolidating. We no longer have even a big six anymore, now that Penguin and Random House have merged. Few outlets mean fewer resources for new talent. I would hope that by having such large power bases would mean that they’d take more risks. But if Hollywood doesn’t take risks, then publishers sure as hell won’t take risks. Maybe in a few years, self-publishing sites might be the only place to find original and exciting writing.
One thing in favor of the publishing houses—a big thing in their favor, to my way of thinking—is that they offer quality control. They have professional editors, for one. I hate coming across typos and misspellings and the rest, because they change me from engaged reader into a grammar harpy. But because the big publishers seem to be following the safe route, for the most part, I might have to work on controlling that part of myself and chuck out my red pens.
Until that happens, though, I’m sure I’ll stick with edited books.