Actually, a few words if I may… Grab a snack and settle in, this could be a bit of a rant!
Self-Publishers… You are not an island. You are not some special and unique creature that exists within a vacuum where your actions are independent from anything else or anyone else surrounding you.
Let’s drop the whole “Indie” publishing title. It is too elitist and gives people the wrong impression. We’re not independent of each other, because whether you like it or not, you are part of a community!
Let’s break this down just a little for you. When a customer goes to buy a book they look at a few things: Genre, Cover art, Summary, and price. That price has a lot more to do with who published than what the product costs. I can’t count the number of forum threads I have read on various sites trafficked by both readers and writers, where people want to avoid self-published books. The most common response to the question of how to avoid them is price. The 0.99-2.99 price point is a dead giveaway for most that the book they are looking at is a self-published work. There are other clues but this one is generally the best indicator. Let’s face it, we do dominate the bottom of the pricing pool. Even $3.99 is becoming a flood of self-published work.
Why would people want to avoid a well-priced book? Why do people want to avoid a self-published book?
Because there is a lot of crap out there!
Sorry guys, I’m mad, and I’m not sugar coating things today.
You may not want to hear this but it gets right down to the heart of the matter. There is a whole lot of crap out there! Books with terrible cover art, books that have been published with no editing, books that were published as first drafts with no beta reading, proofreading, or critiquing. But, among the mass of crap there are also a lot of wonderful, well-written, beautifully edited, and polished books too.
Problem is, once a reader is burned on as little as one bad self-published book, they give up on all of them.
That’s why we’re not “independent.” There is no differentiation in a readers mind between one self-published book and another. They aren’t going to buy your book, no matter how many stars you have next to it because it’s self-published. Price doesn’t really sway their opinion. People are still buying overpriced traditionally published books because they know the quality of the work they are getting.
So why am I mad? Why am I jumping up on my soap box about this today? Because I am sick of seeing the elitist attitude some people in the self-publishing community take toward other authors.
In the last couple of days it was widely announced that Book Country, a subsidiary of Penguin Books had a self-publishing service. Many self-published authors, including myself, were very active on blogs and indie community sites spreading the word of caution about this new Vanity press. The response to this was split down the middle. Some self-published authors were outraged that yet another company was taking advantage of other potential authors. But there were others who seemed to take the cavalier attitude of “If another authors fall prey to this, it’s their own damn fault for not being informed.” It seemed to me, that there were many people not only defending this new Vanity Press, but they also seemed annoyed with anyone who dared to post the warning about it.
And that, my friends, is what pissed me off. Self-publishing is not a one size fits all thing. There are literally thousands of ways to get your book into print (or ebook) and for many new authors it’s hard to differentiate between what is potentially a scam and what is legit.
As a newbie myself, it took a year of work and research before I felt I had a handle on how to properly self-publish a book. Two years later, I am still learning new methods and making connections with freelancers. I don’t care how much research you do, there is always something for you to learn. And the community is where you should be sharing these things as well as learning them from others. The more you know, the better you can make your own work. The better your work, the better the community looks as a whole.
So, when someone puts up a warning to the community, they should thanked and the link shared, not chastised by people who claim to know it all. Knowledge is the way we fight against self-publishing being labeled as crap. Make it easy for that new author to find the right information, don’t just sit idly by and watch others being taken advantage of!
Even though “self” is the first word in self-publishing, it does not mean you’re alone. You are a part of something bigger. And the only way we can help make self-publishing a true force in the publishing industry is to strengthen our ranks with information and the tools to successfully do the job right!