There’s a serious stigma attached to self-published books. The general rule of thumb is that if an author needs to resort to self-publishing, that author shouldn’t be published. If you can’t score and agent and get a major book deal, you probably suck anyway.
Yes, there are a lot of self-published books that suck. But hold on a second…
Look up any bestseller list today and you’ll see something kind of funny. That list is no longer made up of the Hugo’s and Nabocov’s of the world. Then again, who’s to say that Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi isn’t the literary genius of her day?
That’s right, that big bad publishing industry that turns away writer after good writer and story after solid story are publishing the likes of the Jersey Shore. These masterpieces are chock full of information on how to pick up steroid-loving gym rats and how to get famous without, well… doing anything. These books are starting to fill up the shelves of bookstores, daring to share the same shelf with Pulitzer Prize winners and novels of genuine merit. And the publishers are okay with that. Hell, the publisher’s love it.
Rightfully, it would make more sense if ‘real’ books would be limited to paper and ink while ‘the other stuff’ would only make it out as e-books, but that’s not the case. As a matter of fact, it’s quickly becoming the complete opposite. There is less and less room for fresh authors in an industry that’s weakening by the day, and that very well may be why publishers are turning to the likes of Kim Kardashian to pump up their book sales rather than taking risks on genuine talent. (You can buy a hardback copy of Kardashian Konfidential for a paltry twenty-five ninety-nine at your local Barnes & Noble.)
On top of that, a good number of self-published e-books actually outsell the bestsellers on the New York Times list. But you don’t hear about that because no matter how many copies an e-book sells, and no matter how awesome that book may be, New York Times and friends simply do not acknowledge the existence of any works that aren’t backed by a publishing house. Or, simply put, they don’t acknowledge the existence of work that doesn’t make them money. That’s why authors like Amanda Hocking, an indie author who sells thousands of copies per day, never make it onto those lists, and that’s probably why you’ve never heard of her.
So yeah, there are a lot of self-published books that are nothing short of a joke. But it’s no different from the stuff that’s given a glossy cover and shoved in our faces every time we walk into a bookstore. It’s the bad book phenomenon, and we aren’t blind to it. Border’s has already taken a serious tumble, and Barnes & Noble may not have been far behind if they hadn’t jumped on the e-book wagon with the Nook when they did. If that isn’t proof of how much heft the e-book has, I don’t know what is.
So what can we do to keep the good books alive? Buy a Kindle, or a Nook, or an iPad, and support the authors that write for the love of story, not the publishers that publish for the love of money.