I went through a phase where I wanted to become a book reviewer. Not just the books everyone else was reading, but indie books as well. My plan was to read a self-published book one week and a traditionally published book the next. I intended to go back and forth that way for quite some time.
I stopped after about two months.
Some of the self-published books I read were not good. But that’s not why I stopped. Between work and other commitments, I couldn’t keep up that pace. But I still review books on Goodreads, just not at a frantic pace.
I bring up the fact that some self-published books were not good because of a post I read on Good E-Reader. But first let me say some of the indie books I read were actually wonderful. I read a fun thriller that revolved around baseball, and a wonderful children’s book that I recommended to my nephew. Some of the other books were good in theory, but needed a better editor to bring the true story off the pages.
I thought about this today when I read “The Overwhelming Majority of Self-Published Books are Terrible” on Good E-Reader.
These weren’t actually the words of the post’s author, Michael Kozlowski; they were the words of but Andrew Franklin, the founder of Profile Books, based in the UK:
At the Writing in a Digital Conference in London, Andrew Franklin, founder and managing director of Profile Books, blasted authors who self-publish. “The overwhelming majority of self-published books are terrible—unutterable rubbish, they don’t enhance anything in the world.”
Franklin went on to say, according to Kozlowski:
These books come out and are met with a deathly silence, so the principle experience of self-publishing is one of disappointment.” He went on to voice his increasingly disparaging remarks by saying, “I was very shocked to learn you can buy Facebook friends and likes on social media. That is what passes for affirmation in what I think is the deeply corrupt world of self-publishing.”
First of all, ouch.
Secondly, I have read some awful books that have been traditionally published as well. One of the main differences, however, is the process. Most traditionally published manuscripts go through rigorous editing from agents and editors before the final piece comes out. Some self-published authors often don’t take advantage of services out there that will do this for them.
And what about Franklin’s suggestion that self-pubbed books don’t enhance anything in the world? Maybe not in your world, Franklin. But any self-published book could mean a whole lot to a great number of people, not least the author and his or her family members. The very accomplishment of completing a project as intensive as a book, for instance, could be just the confidence-boosting push some writers need to go on and accomplish even more with their careers.
While there aren’t hundreds of success stories of self-publishers becoming big sensations, there are authors who have had marginal success—and their books are getting read for a reason.
Probably not because they’re terrible.