Post written by Tahlia Newland
The general perception is that self-published books are inferior to those published in the traditional way, but that is a generalisation and, of course, is not always the case. Unfortunately, however, many of them are every bit as poor in quality as those who subscribe to this generalisation would have us believe of all self-published books, and such books bring all self-published and indie published books down in the public perception. This is a shame because some of the best books I have ever read are independently published and it takes only a glance at the Awesome Indies site to see that there are many that are every bit as good as, and in some cases better than, traditionally published books.
So what to do? How do we remove this damaging generalisation from people’s mind streams?
First, I think it’s important not to deny the fact that many self-published books are of poor quality. In an informal survey of Awesome Indies reviewers, on average the percentage of books that reviewers rejected as unsuitable for the Awesome Indies list – and therefore not up to the same standards as traditionally published books – was between 50 and 75 percent of the books submitted to them for review. Many don’t even pass the test of reading the sample. If these numbers are taken as representative then, in conservative terms, around 50% of indie books available for sale are not what a traditional publisher would consider a publishable standard. I’ve asked my reviewers to take numbers over the next few months so we can get a better idea of the actual percentages, but the main point is that a significant number of self-published books are not up to standard. That’s just how it is.
If we don’t want all those wonderful indie books to suffer because of the ones that aren’t so good, then we must point readers to sites like Awesome Indies where the books listed have been vetoed by what is essentially the equivalent of a publishing houses’s editorial staff.
These, we can say, are the good ones.
Apart from that, we can keep up our efforts to educate those who want to publish their books and hope that they learn enough to either publish something up to standard, or to desist from publishing at all. Even so, there will always be some who will publish just because they can, and readers will always have to negotiate the minefield of books published without a gatekeeper and hope that the one they bought won’t blow up in their face. For so long as there are mines set to explode, people will always avoid the minefield. At least the Awesome Indies offers a field free of mines for readers to browse in, but we have to direct them to it or risk losing their patronage next time they are burned by a self-published book.
As my regular readers know, I am a great believer in indie publishing, but sometimes when I look at the next book in my to be reviewed list on my Kindle, I hope it won’t be an indie book. You just can’t be sure that you won’t be wasting your time, and after a few unfortunate reads, I long for something reliable. So I understand exactly where people are coming from when they say that they don’t read self-published books. I also know that they miss out on the most exciting books being published today.
The only answer is to buy your indie books through sites like the Awesome Indies, or on the recommendation of someone you trust.
How do you feel about the quality of self-published books? Are sites like the Awesome Indies the answer to the readers dilemma?