An interesting bit of news from Shelf Awareness the other day, that also quotes a very intersting piece in the NY Times by Motoko Rich. Well, not news so much as a timely topic perhaps...
"As other sectors of the book industry fight for survival, 'there is one segment of the industry that is actually flourishing: capitalizing on the dream of would-be authors to see their work between covers, companies that charge writers and photographers to publish are growing rapidly at a time when many mainstream publishers are losing ground.'But not everyone, including those that run the self-publishing companies, see it that way according to Rich.
But where are the readers? 'For every thousand titles that get self-published, maybe there's two that should have been published,' said Cathy Langer, lead buyer at Tattered Cover bookstore, Denver, Colo. 'People think that just because they've written something, there's a market for it. It's not true.'"
"During an economic downturn, books tailored to such narrow audiences may fare better than titles from traditional publishers that depend on a more general appeal.But in reality, for most, that is a very cozy little niche, since one estimate is that the average number of copies sold of most self published books is 150. Yes, you who dream of being the next John Grisham...150.
'A lot of this niche content is doing fairly well relative to the rest of the economy because it’s very useful to people who have a very specific need,' said Aaron Martin, director of self-publishing and manufacturing on demand at Amazon."
But do not lose all hope! There is always the exception to the rule. Rich cites the example of Lisa Genova, who wrote and self published the book "Still Alice". Yes, the same 'Still Alice' you may have seen written about all over the Internet recently and advertised right there on Shelf Awareness by her publisher Pocket Books, who ultimately bought the book for a six figure advance. BTW, it debuted at #5 on the NY Times trade paperback list this week.
So what is your opinion on self published books? Do you read any, do you review them? Three examples that I have read recently come to mind. One is a self published book by a woman that I know. I read it. Not very good. Another is a self published book that I read, and reviewed here on my blog, that I thought was quite good. That deserved the benefits of being picked up by a publisher and getting the added publicity and distribution that would mean. Why has no one picked it up? I don't know. Is it just a matter of luck, of endurance? Because, without doubt, I have read many published books that were much worse.
And the third is a book that was first self published and was then sold to a publisher and re-released. Well, to each their own, but I did not think it was very good. What did the publisher see? Again, I am not sure but congrads to the writer. And good for you for hanging in there! But the fact that it was published does not necessarily mean it was a great quality.
So what is the bottom line, in my humble opinion?
What books a publisher might buy is very subjective. Many bad books are published ( you and I have read some, I am sure) and a few good ones are not published. The reality is as self publishing gets easier and cheaper, it may well become a bigger business. I have seen some bloggers that say they will NEVER read or blog about a self-published book. I hesitate to draw such a firm line. I will admit that are several that I have read and did not have the heart to blog about...at least yet...because they were just so bad. But then, as I know, there is always that gem in the junk pile waiting to be found. Maybe I am hoping for that gem and maybe I hope that if we bloggers find one and talk about it and a bit of a buzz gets going, someone might hear it and give the book the chance it deserves.
I think there are a few good books out there that should see the light of day.