Self-publishing has been the great equalizer in writing. Suddenly authors who weren’t getting the time of day from traditional publishing could package their books and other collected works without a middleman, and sell right to the masses. However, as anyone who has shopped around for ebooks has noticed, self published titles are a mixed bag. Some are great, and some are…not so great.
Forbes has noticed that too. They shared a pretty funny Twitter conversation with author Lou Morgan after he found an old manuscript of his from his teenage years. Morgan talks about how embarrassed he is by his poor writing (teenage vampires! Pre-twilight!), and the Forbes author uses it as a jumping off point to state that just because you CAN self publish doesn’t mean you SHOULD self publish. The hard part is that there’s no easy way to propose a solution. You can hire an independent editor, but that will only fix typos and grammatical errors. And if you end up in the reject pile for a major publisher, is it because traditional publishing is competitive, and often punishes newcomers, or is it for merit reasons?
Honestly, the best way is probably the way that the market has already determined, by simply selling through Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. It doesn’t eliminate the bad books, but it does give authors a chance to put their works out there. The flip side, though, is that authors need to be willing to hear the feedback, both good and bad, that they receive. And of course, approach writing with a healthy dose of self-awareness!
I strongly suggest heading to Lou Morgan’s site for a full rundown on the “bad” teenage writing he discovered. It is quite amusing, and admittedly brought back some terrible memories of my own fiction writings during adolescence. It still amazes me that my parents weren’t more concerned about my tendency to write really, really, really, terrible short stories about the apocalypse being triggered by our rampant pollution. Yes, I was THAT kid. And I am very, very lucky that all those terrible stories are probably lost or molding in my parents basement!
Have you purchased self published titles and loved them? Have you been burned by writing that should have been a learning experience and not a salable title? Do you have a drawer of “shame writing” somewhere? Let us know in the comments!