I’m having trouble discarding a preconceived notion. I’ve always considered books that were self-published as inferior, work that didn’t meet traditional publishing standards, books that lacked the qualities that make for a good read: tight writing, proper punctuation and sentence structure, and good story telling.
More than once over the years I’ve been talked into purchasing a self-published book only to wish I hadn’t wasted the money. I always felt I knew why the writer had to resort to paying to have the book published. When I read an article about an author’s first book being published and realized it was self-published, I mentally scoffed and felt superior. I, at least, had been able to convince a legitimate publishing house (4 different publishing houses over time) to publish my books. I didn’t have to pay someone to print it.
Well, times have changed, and I guess I’d better change my attitude. This past month I’ve been judging published books for a national contest. Three of the five books I’m judging are self-published. I groaned when I first received the package, but then I started reading. The two books that have blown me away…
Yep, they’re self-published.
I will say the authors of these two books weren’t complete novices. One mentioned the help of her agent (along with her critique partners and the fact that she’d had the book edited) and the other has had several short stories published. But for some reason or another, these two writers chose to self-publish their books.
I also noticed last week that two of the top ten best sellers on the USA Today list were e-books published through Amazon. Another two self-published e-books were listed in the extended list of best sellers.
E-publishing and many of the print-on-demand digital publishers are changing how books are published. In many ways that’s great. Being the writer and the publisher takes out the middleman, gives the writer more control. It’s also giving us more variety. With major publishing houses worried about the bottom line and afraid to take chances on the new and untried, bookstores and stands are loaded with the same well-known authors. Self-publishing is an opportunity for those new voices and new categories or genres to be published.
Oh, I’m sure for every good self-published book there will be dozens of not-so-good to terrible books. But you know, not all of the books published by traditional publishers are that great. The old adage is: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, I guess, you can’t judge it by its publisher either.
(I’d tell you the titles and authors of those two books I loved, but I can’t. Not until the contest is over.)