Online book retailers such as Amazon, Googleplay, Kobo and Barnes and Noble have made it possible for anyone to self publish a book. These platforms are not in themselves publishers, but online ebook suppliers. They simply make your book available to the masses via Kindle, Nook or print on demand paperback.
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This means that there is no quality control on the self published book in the same way as there is on traditionally published books by the likes of Random House, Bloomsbury or HarperCollins. These books will eventually trickle their way into Waterstones, Tescos or WH Smiths with their glossy covers and heavily-edited content.
Risks of Self Publishing Ebooks for Readers
By contrast, there are often no editors, proofreaders or a second pair of eyes to check over a self-published book. The result of this is that some self published books on Kindle have typos, bad formatting and amateurish book covers. Mud sticks and therefore, the word ‘self published’ has become somewhat of a detrimental term in the publishing world.
But I must hasten to add, there are many fantastic self published books on Amazon. Many indie authors are sticklers for detail and perfection. Amanda Hocking began as a self published writer, selling over a million copies of her nine books. She ended up signing up with St. Martin’s Press in 2011. Hugh Howey, another example writes sci-fi dystopian series. He ended up signing up with Simon & Schuster.
Great Self Published Writers Hidden from the High Street
There are many talented, underrated and unrecognized self published writers who enjoy the independence of self publishing. But I feel that traditional publishers dislike taking risks on a totally different type of book, preferring instead to use the past to determine the future. It seems the high street book shops stocks only books that follow a trend or imitate other bestselling authors. The same brand novelists can be seen on stock piles because they are a safe bet on sales. There is little opportunity for the reader to find a truly different type of novel. The only option is to surf the Kindle store for a wider choice
Great Books in Hidden Places
But now and again, something different does puncture the high street shop such as Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Catherine O’Flynn’s What Was Lost. J K Rowling’s Harry Potter novels were famously rejected numerous times because no one thought that stories about a boy wizard would have mass appeal. Sadly, old habits return and there are lots of tired and similar-looking books out there again. The self publishing world keeps the book market fresh, with a diversity of books that would otherwise never have made it in front of the eyes of an avid reader.
The Curse of Self Publishing
But from the customer’s viewpoint, uploading a self published book on the Kindle is like playing Russian Roulette. You are taking a chance on the book being well-written with a compelling plot, or a complete dud with loads of typos and formatting errors. Having said this, I have read dud high street novels with typos and incontinuities (how can a character’s eye colour change halfway through a story?) But when it comes to traditionally published books, editorial quality and production are reasonably assured. This assurance simply cannot exist in the self publishing world where anyone can self-publish. The sad consequence of this is that a blanket judgment can sometimes be made on an author who is self published.
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