Many people think that because a book is self-published (or independently published) it can’t be good. That because a traditional publishing house wouldn’t accept the book and print it for the masses that there’s no way it has any sort of content that anyone would ever want to read. There’s a problem with that and it’s complicated. Starting with the fact that a lot of self-published books are crap and are published because people can’t write. Another reason is that people think of writing as a “side hustle” and have flooded places like Amazon with low quality low content crap books just to make a buck. This hasn’t helped with the idea that independent authors are worth anything.
The thing is, there are tons and tons of absolute shit books that are and have been traditionally published. Books that are panned by readers and critics alike. Just recently I watched a movie called NERVE. It wasn’t a great movie. It wasn’t awful, it was just good enough to keep watching and not turn off. I mostly only kept watching it because there was an actor in it that I liked and the premise was good, the execution was poor. When I was looking up reviews for it I found out that it was based on a book. Usually books are better than movies so I looked up the book. That book has some of the worst reviews and ratings I’ve ever seen. In fact, most of the the reviews I saw said the movie was actually better than the book.
This made me wonder if this book was something that had become independently popular and went viral or was actually published by a real company. Turns out, a publishing company did put this book out. Which astonished me because the majority of reviews for this book say it’s god awful and shouldn’t have been published. At least, from what I can find. Yet, somehow, this woman (who only wrote this book and one other book) got a million dollar movie deal out of it. How? What? Why? The book wasn’t even well liked by people who read it so who also paid her for the movie rights? Does this make sense? No. But this book was still traditionally published.
I don’t think I need to remind everyone of the train wreck that is 50 Shades Of Grey which was also traditionally published. Then we have things like Mortal Instruments (which I know has a following) but it’s not good, most people think that, and it started out as Harry Potter fan fiction. Then it just got popular enough that it was marketable and changed enough so the author couldn’t get sued. I don’t think she’s done more than that series (just like E.L James hasn’t done anything of note since 50 Shades Of Grey). Both series, traditionally published.
There are books traditionally published that are horribly written, have tons of typos and grammatical errors, and still are somehow seen as better than self published books. These days you run the risk of finding just as crappy a book on the shelves of a store as you do from an independent publisher. Trust me on that. When you have people like Jake Paul “writing a book” just to cash in on that you know that the traditional publishing world has gone to shit. Which it has. Most independent authors are at very least trying their best to give you a good story and product. They work their asses off and they care very much about their stories. They aren’t being paid to write them and there’s absolutely no guarantee they will ever make money off of them. They are writing for the passion of the creative art and then trying to give it to the masses. Hoping for success.
Of course, there are people writing who only want the money and the fame and don’t care about the quality of their books but I’ve already discussed that. Those people ruined it for a good chunk of indie authors who are serious about their work. Then, I get asked all the time why I don’t try “traditional” publishing. I’ll tell you why. I’ve been down that road. I got a few manuscript requests. I didn’t do poorly. The problems came with all the changes they wanted me to make. How much they wanted my work censored and developed for a “bigger audience” to make it more mainstream. At that point, though, my work wouldn’t have been my work. It would have been a creation of the system to mass market and push out and not the art that I originally intended. Not to mention the fact that I’m not exactly keen on doing all that work to have someone else take a giant chunk of the profits when any book these days is only guaranteed to sell a couple of hundred copies. If that.
I know I’ve spoken about wanting to be commercially successful because I want this to be my career, which I do. However, when I speak of that I’m not talking millions of dollars or rich and famous. I’m talking about a sustainable income where I can live comfortably and not in a neighborhood where I might get shot walking out of the house at night. At this point I would give my books away to anyone who promised to review them (and have). Still, no takers. All I’ve ever wanted was to tell stories and get them out there. Unfortunately the market is over saturated with too many writers and so little readers that it’s not going to happen. Though I don’t think I’m some great amazing undiscovered talent I am positive that I am a better writer than E.L James of all people and yet she’s made billions of dollars on Twilight fan fiction with very little effort. Meanwhile I sit here working my ass off, for free, for thousands of hours to get nothing out of it because nepotism and popularity is what sells. Can’t we go back to the days that writing a good story meant something? I’m doubting that’s going to happen any time soon. In any case, please, give independent authors a chance. I think you’ll be very surprised at what you find.
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