At one time, all a person needed to be a published author was to be a really good writer, weave a tale the publishers wanted, in the way they wanted it told, then send it out again and again and again until hopefully someone saw the same vision as you for your book and published you. Once you were published, your problems were pretty much over. The publishing house did the marketing for the most part. At the least, they offered you all the free books you wanted to send for publicity purposes. They appreciated authors who took publicity into their own hands, even just a little.
But, times change, and in publishing, times have changed drastically and seemingly overnight. Self publishing, once taboo to mention in front of any traditional publisher, is picking up steam and taking over. Even the “big guys,” such as USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly, promote self published books and offer ways to get them in front of a wider audience.
This is all well and good, but like all things that change so drastically so quickly, there’s bad too. A lot of it. The bad is that anyone, and I mean anyone, can self publish a book. Through places like Createspace and Smashwords, it’s completely free. That means that anyone who can type words into a computer, no matter how those words are put together, can act as if they are a “real author” (depending on what your definition of real author happens to be).
No longer do writers need to hone their craft for years, learning what to do and what not to do, spilling their blood on the page, so to speak. They just start typing and when they are done, they toss it out there (sometimes with no editing at all). If they have money, they pay to have it reviewed and marketed for them. Voila! The death of good writing! Because of this, traditional publishers have become pickier than ever about taking on new authors. In many publishing circles, admitting you self published your first book, is still like saying “I can’t write my name in the snow, but I can still be published.”
To many self published authors, traditional publishing is still their goal, even if they refuse to admit it.
On the other hand (there’s always another hand), it gives good writers who fell between the cracks for years a chance to get their work out their on their own terms. Finally, those who really can write not only their name in the snow, but can actually tell a great story in an interesting manner (and well edited), can publish. Once again, however, therein lies a problem for them; so many bad writers and terrible tomes exist out there, that the good ones get lost in the fray.
So, what does it come down to? Once again, money. If you have the money, whether you are a good writer, a bad one, something in between or on the outside, today you can have your book noticed and make a lot of sales. Write a long series and you will develop fans. In going through the reviews of “badly written” books (one was so bad, it was more like a 300-page summary rather than a novel), I am astonished at the amount of people who do not care about the writing, only that the story is interesting to them. With this trend ongoing, will good literature go by the way of the dinosaur?
Personally, I am finding it more and more difficult to find books I want to read. I’m sure they are there, they are just lost among a crowd of bad. So, what can be done (besides reviews?)? That’s for another article.
Check out my vampire series: Sands of Time: Fate of the True Vampires.