Years ago, when someone wrote a book, you knew it was probably decent. Just because of the mere fact that it existed, that a publishing house had bothered to put it on shelves, you knew it had merit.
Now, with the ease of self-publishing, anyone can publish a book. This is fabulous for so many reasons, including the opportunity it provides those of us who are entrepreneurial and enjoy overseeing the entire process. But it also has a downside: not everything that’s published is decent. Self-publishing lets writers put a lot of crap out into the world, which waters down the overall quality of books.
This, of course, is why self-publishing still has a stigma. But what about the self-published books that are really great? While the massive pool of self-published books includes plenty of reads that aren’t as polished as books that are backed by a traditional house, there are still lots of self-published stories out there that are worth your while.
Case in point: Lisa McKay’s about-to-launch book, Love at the Speed of Email. I had lunch with Lisa last week (we’ve long been online friends, but this was the first time we’d met in person), and she showed me her beautiful cover design. Lisa already has one traditionally published book, but she couldn’t convince a publisher to buy her memoir. So she hired her own editor and designer, and published herself. Of course, it wasn’t that easy — all the details of self-publishing can be time-consuming to wade through — but Lisa’s book launches TODAY. Yay!
(If you’re interested in picking her brain, she’ll be here for a Q&A sometime during the next two weeks.)
Another good example is Torre DeRoche‘s Swept, which was self-published until a publisher — and film director! — bought rights to the book. I’m one of the lucky few who has it on my bookshelf in original form.
But back to my conversation with Lisa. She mentioned the need for a better filter for self-published books, and I think she’s totally right. Now that anyone can put a book out there, how can consumers figure out which books are actually, well, good? Which ones the author put a ton of time and effort into, as opposed to simply finishing a draft and making it available to the world?
Amazon’s star-rating system is one way to determine whether a book’s worth reading, and word of mouth often factors heavily into our book-buying decisions. But I don’t think that’s enough. Some other filter system has GOT to develop as self-published books become more and more popular. (Think this idea is interesting? Tweet it!)
What do you think? Have you ever considered buying a self-published book? How’d you choose whether to purchase or pass?