This post, by Ben Galley, originally appeared on C.S. Lakin‘s Live Write Thrive.
It’s a sad truth, and one that is almost immediately apparent to most, that self-published works can be immediately dismissed due to their origins. From readers, to blogs, to bookshops, the word self-published is often greeted with a grimace and a groan. Some of you may not have experienced this yet, but I guarantee you will in time. But why is this reputation such a notorious one? And, more importantly, what can we do to escape it?
Cheap and Quick Doesn’t Mean Lousy
There are two main foundations to this reputation. The first comes from the very roots of why there has been such an “Indie Boom”over the last few years. Self-publishing is cheap and quick, and in any industry, this doesn’t often mean quality. This has had a deleterious effect on the rest of us.
In a nutshell, one of the reasons for this stigma is the high volume of low quality, rushed self-published works available. The large majority of readers will be unforgiving of books with no proper editing or a cover made in Word. It’s painted a poor initial view of us. Notoriety results. A bad reputation is a hard one to shrug. For readers who may have simply tried a few indie books in the past and been consistently disappointed, they are unlikely to try again. The same goes for reviewers.
No Quality Controllers
The second reason is due to the publishers, though not directly. One of the big issues surrounding self-publishing is the idea of curating. This is the idea that within the book industry publishers are the curators of quality. Ideally, they decide what is good enough to go to print, and discard what isn’t. Whether or not this works in reality, some readers simply trust publishers to be stamps of high quality. Self-publishing has no such process, and because of that we’ve been dubbed the new slush pile. Because we lack this “quality stamp,” readers unfortunately view us as a risk, and not worth spending the money on. Combine this with the misconception that self-publishing is simply Vanity Publishing: a last resort to rejected authors, authors that therefore must not be very good at what they do, and we’ve got a community that thinks all self-published books are substandard. Who would want to buy a book by a rubbish author? This, combined with an already shaky reputation, has caused many readers, reviewers, press, and bookshops to close their doors. Many for good.
This is simply untrue. So what do we do about this? Do we campaign? Do we street march? Speak out? No, the simple answer is this: We attain quality.
A Turn for the Best
The good thing is the tide is already turning. We are seeing Indies encroaching on the best-seller lists. We are seeing reviewers amending their policies. We are seeing dedicated blogs and sites curated by voracious readers of Indies. People are beginning to see that the lack of so called publisher-curating can actually allow fresh and new writing. The opinions are beginning to change. How? Because we are now working to avoid these stereotypes. And we are working HARD. Here’s how: