Why the self-publishing shit volcano isn’t going to stop erupting any time soon

by Suw on February 5, 2014

Author Chuck Wendig has written a long post about how self-publishing is turning into a shit volcano. Vast quantities of terribly written rubbish is being published, and this is damaging to everyone in self-publishing. He says (emphasis as original):

[…] one of the features of self-publishing is that the door is open to anyone. Everyone. Always. No bouncers at this nightclub door, which is fine, but that also means you get folks with no shirt and no shoes. You’ll get folks dressed to the nines in sharkskin suits and you’ll also get wild-eyed dudes who are eating goulash out of rubber boots and who are quietly masturbating in the corner. You let anybody swim in the pool and, well, anybody can swim in the pool.

He goes on to make a number of arguments as to why this is a bad thing, and asks what we can do about it. If you haven’t read it yet, do so, because Wendig makes some very good points.

Right.

I’m afraid I have some bad news for Wendig, and for everyone else in the industry, self-published or otherwise. The shit volcano is not going to stop erupting, and there’s nothing we can do about it. There are a number of reasons for my pessimism, but the main one is this:

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”

Charles Darwin was dead on the money when he said that, and it’s now known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Wikipedia says:

[…] unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude. Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding.

David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University conclude, “the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others”.

I’ve seen it over and over again in social media. People believe that because using Twitter and Facebook is easy, that producing a meaningful long-term strategy for a multinational company is therefore easy, and that their intern can do it. After a decade as a social technologist, I can tell you from experience that it’s really not easy, and no, your intern cannot do it.

You see it in web design, which is what I did before I moved into social media. Because anyone can learn to throw a bit of HTML together, they think that it’s easy to design a website. Again, from experience, I can promise you it isn’t.

The problem is that people are generally very bad at accurately assessing their level of skill in any given area, especially an area in which they are inexperienced. That’s bad enough in a field where there’s an objective measure of capability. You may think you’re the bees knees at tennis, but if you keep losing every game you play, that’s a fairly clear indicator that you’re crap. And it’s not just an indicator to you, it makes it obvious to everyone that you’re crap, so it becomes hard, though not impossible, to maintain the delusion that you’re good.

With writing, however, there is no such clarity. The factors influencing the quality of a book can be broken down into three categories:

  1. Objective factors: Spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors. Formatting errors. Inconsistencies. Issues that, no matter the reader, are obvious and should have been avoided. Much of this stuff could be picked up by a well-written algorithm.
  2. Subjective factors: Poorly drawn characters, unconvincing plots, poor dialogue, cliche-ridden prose. Problems that many people will find problematic, but that some people will be able to successfully gloss over when reading. More experienced and professional readers/writers will notice these more than those who are less experienced. A computer couldn’t spot these problems, but us humans can, although the extent to which we are bothered by them varies.
  3. Matters of taste: Tone, genre, aspects of plot or character. Other issues that really can’t be said to be good or bad, but which either fit your taste or don’t. Computers have no sense of taste.

The problem is that if you’re unskilled, it can be hard enough to spot the objective errors, but the subjective problems are well beyond your ken. Yet what often happens is that the unskilled are so overconfident that they try to classify subjective (and even objective) errors as a matter of taste, and thus something that they don’t need to address because hey, not everyone likes everything.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is intractable, because it requires the unskilled to develop a high level of self-awareness to counteract their tendency towards overconfidence, and self-awareness doesn’t come easily. Again, from Wikipedia:

Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

  1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
  2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
  3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
  4. recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.

So, according to Dunning and Kruger, in order to combat the massive shit volcano, we would need to train every self-publisher who produces shit, and hope that they realise that they aren’t as good as they think they are and need to try a bit harder. Well, good luck with that one.

Now, it’s true that not every self-published author is on the wrong side of Dunning-Kruger. Some are on the only slightly less wrong side: Good writers whose confidence is shot because they understand that they could be better, and are over-sensitive to the gap between the quality of the work they do produce and the quality they want to achieve. Those people are better than they think they are and will publish less than they should.

Of course, there are self-published authors who have an accurate view of their own competence, and others who are moving up the competence ladder and developing a better appreciation for their own skills and what more they need to learn. Here, it’s useful to think about the Four Stages of Competence (again, from Wikipedia):

1. Unconscious incompetence
The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognise their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.

2. Conscious incompetence
Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.

3. Conscious competence
The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

4. Unconscious competence
The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

But if the quality of self-published books is anything to go by, most self-publishers are at stage 1. Very few have made it through to stage 4., though I think that’s true of all authors, even the traditionally published ones. It’s a very high bar after all. What we really need is more people getting as far as stage 3. Conscious competence is a perfectly fine place to be, but it is hard to get to with Dunning-Kruger in the way.

There is no intervention that I can think of that will help people, en masse, transcend the Dunning-Kruger effect and elevate themselves to a state of conscious competence as writers. Thus, we can expect the shit volcano to keep on spewing for the foreseeable future, and this without even beginning to think about the cultural reasons why there might be many people who are so eager to be authors.

Notes for commenters: I’m not talking here about people who just write for fun and give their work away on sites like Wattpad or in fanfic communities. I’m talking about people who are selling their books and, through asking for money for their work, presenting themselves as professional writers.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

David Penny February 5, 2014 at 9:19 pm

It’s depressing but I agree with pretty much everything you say.

Even more depressing is the American Idol factor. You see it on TV all the time – deluded individuals who are utterly convinced the judges have failed to recognize their genius. “I’ll be back next year and they’ll be sorry then!” Yes, they will.

The third depressing fact is I think the shit pile is creating a pool of readers who no longer recognize what is good from bad. FSOG anyone?

Is there any answer? Your post does not present any which is the final depressing fact.

Maybe we’re all circling the storm drain and there is no swimming against the tide. But I’m still not giving up, and neither am I looking for a traditional deal, because I’ve been there before and don’t want to go back to it.

About the only answer I can see is some kind of hybrid publishing system where minimum standards are vetted. Not perfect, but possible?

John Manchester February 5, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Amen! Your writing has quite advanced beyond stage 1 of competence. Must look further into Dunning-Kruger.

Suw February 5, 2014 at 10:53 pm

David, I didn’t examine possible solutions, because I don’t think there are any. However, there might be some work-arounds and I have a few thoughts about how the situation might evolve. I’ll share those in another post – this one really was starting to get a bit long!

John, thank you very much! If I suffer from Dunning-Kruger at all, is the flipside, the problem of being too aware of my failings and thus my confidence taking regular knocks. Don’t have an easy answer for that problem either!

Maria (BearMountainBooks) February 6, 2014 at 3:10 am

Lots of these articles discuss the problem as “Quality” when really I think they are more bothered by “Competition.”

I am not denying that there is garbage out there, but I don’t really think that is what bothers many writers. I think what bothers them most is that readers might buy it and/or read it INSTEAD of buying the “other” stuff, which is generally defined as “better quality” by the people writing the articles. (Not denying that the editing may in fact be better. However, it is still very hard to compete with free.)

Thus when the discussion begins about how to “solve it” you cannot solve it because the articles discuss what it wrong with the self-published authors (or some subset of them) when really the question is: How to get attention off their low prices (or free) and compete with them.

Just a thought. I could be wrong.

Sean Cummings February 6, 2014 at 10:49 am

Also don’t forget to factor in dumb luck. There’s a massive amount of dumb luck involved when it comes to what makes a book successful or not. Also, voodoo science, divination and human sacrifice.

Suw February 6, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Maria, you’d be right if quality had no impact on the market, but like Wendig, I believe it does. If readers get fed up of 99p shite, they’re going to start shying away from self-published works all together, and that hurts the writers who are actually doing a good job.

The problem is that authors are not competing for limited budgets as much as they are competing for limited attention. And the problem with having so much shit available so cheaply is that readers are being trained to equate first cheap prices (which dominate the self-publishing pricing spectrum) with shite. So if readers start immediately equating cheap books with shit books, then self-publishers will start to put prices up, but the quality won’t necessarily follow.

Readers will then go from being slightly miffed by a cheap book that didn’t deliver to being rather angry with an expensive book that didn’t deliver. And that then encourages them to look for familiar brands — authors they’ve read before or imprints they trust – as their key heuristic when deciding what to buy.

This shift away from the price heuristic will cause serious problems for self-publishers as more and more shite books are published to a market segment that is effectively shrinking as readers turn their backs on self-publishers.

If it were a simple matter of competition, then I wouldn’t be bothering to write a blog post about it, because competition is just the normal state of play. But this is much more complex and serious than just basic competition.

Suw February 6, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Sean, yes, there’s a lot of dumb luck involved in success. But humans are also adaptable creatures who learn. And if readers start learning that self-publishing, for all its protestations, usually does produce shite, then they’ll just not bother buying it anymore.

Michelle Louring February 6, 2014 at 12:56 pm

None of this was something I didn’t know and still it was a depressing read.
As David pointed out, the world is getting overrun by talentless people who think they are a better writer than J.K. Rowling or a better musician than Michael Jackson. The worst thing is not their confidence, it’s that they are so sure of themselves that nothing anyone says will open their eyes.

Mackay Bell February 6, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I don’t completely understand this obsession with quality. If a reader is worried about quality, don’t read a book without getting a recommendation. There are plenty of reviews out there.

Just like some people like to watch bad movies, there are probably people who enjoy really bad books. Or there are people who love a particular subject so much, they are willing to wade though the junk to find gems.

And I doubt the writers of Dinosaur porn really think they are F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I got burned on a couple Amazon 99 cent books, and am a little more careful these days. But it didn’t break me. Can’t really see the harm here.

Suw February 6, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Reader reviews are not so reliable. I’ve bought a few self-pub’d books based on lots of glowing reviews, and they were terrible books. So I don’t trust reviews much these days, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Humans are good at learning, and the more you find that reviews are just plain wrong, the less you trust them, the less useful they are as a way to sort the wheat from the chaff.

And yes, I’m sure some people love to read ‘bad’ books, but it’s a certain type of bad. A book riddled with typos, with terrible grammar and even worse characterisation and plotting is not the kind of ‘bad’ that I can imagine very many people activity seek out. I love schlocky disaster books, and will forgive a degree of ineptitude on the part of the author for the sake of a good volcanic eruption, but I won’t put up with seeing the kinds of errors that even a basic semi-professional editor would have picked up. It tells me that the author doesn’t care about me as a reader, and I don’t want to give those people my money.

So this isn’t about saying that litfic is grand and genre is bad. It’s saying that whatever kind of story you’re talking about, there’s a lot of objectively shit books out there, clogging up the market up with crap and making it harder for readers to connect with really good writing.

As for the harm, you’ve actually just demonstrated it. You are more careful now about Amazon 99 cent books because you got burnt. You’re judging an entire class of books – cheap ones – based on your experience with just a few of them. You’re not alone, and you’re not acting irrationally or irresponsibly. In fact, you’re doing what everyone else does. Just extrapolate that a little bit, and you can see where the harm is: A reading public that turns its back on a whole swath of literature because of how hard it is to find the good books.

JT February 6, 2014 at 6:23 pm

This would seem to be much ado about nothing, as was Wendig’s linkbait posting. Given the fact that people can read samples of ebooks prior to purchasing, it is fairly easy to identify bad books before buying and Amazon’s return policy provides recourse if you end up buying something terrible in spite of the sample. It results in very little harm. For every reader that gets “burned”, there are 9 more who don’t care and will continue to seek out self-published works. Besides, what causes more harm, buying a stinker for $0.99 or $2.99 or paying $12.99 for a stinker of a trade-pubbed book? Don’t tell me the big 5 don’t publish stinkers. Guess what, people keep buying them.

Many readers like sorting through all the various books, looking for the gems. It’s a treasure hunt, all the more pleasurable for the journey of discovery. For those that don’t like that, there are all sorts of blogs and sites like Goodreads where one can find highly recommended books to help them easily sort the wheat from the chaff. Given the proliferation of self-published titles on Amazon’s top 100 lists, plenty of readers continue to buy them. Besides, many readers have no idea a book is self-published versus trade published and just don’t care.

To throw up more gates between consumer and writer in the name of “quality” is ridiculous. Its akin to censorship – why should you determine what I should read? Good books have a way of rising to the top. Given Amazon’s deep categorization of every genre and their top lists, it seems quite easy to find competently written self-published books, at a fraction of the price of Trade published. That’s a huge win, particularly for the voracious readers who don’t want to spend $12.99 for a handful of electrons. Personally I would much rather spend $2.99 on a self pubbed book and know that more than $2 goes to the writer, versus $12.99 for trade pubbed and know that at least $6.50 is going to the publisher to pay for their fancy offices in mid-town Manhattan. (I digress but why should a distributor headquarter themselves in a part of the country with some of the most expensive real estate in the world?? I have no interest in subsidizing that).

I agree with a previous poster that this post would seem to be a thinly veiled outcry against competition… “how is my special little book going to be able to be seen and appreciated amongst all of the dreck from the unwashed masses?!”. Please. Write something that people want to read and write it semi-competently and I believe you will find an audience. The rise of self publishing is the best thing to happen to both readers and writers since the invention of the printing press.

J. R. Tomlin February 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm

I have a dog in this fight, rather obviously, being one of those horrible, no-good, very bad self-publishers who should slink away in shame and stop dirtying the book world and having the nerve to compete with the ‘real’ writers.

There are a fairly simple solutions for the reader (not for the whiners). Look at the also-bought lists on Amazon of books that you liked. Chances are the books there are ones that are similar to what you like, although if what you like is dino porn, no doubt SUW will not approve, but I doubt that you care. Then read the description and sample. If it is well written and the description are well written and the novel interests you, buy it. If not, don’t.

I used to do the same thing in the ‘olden days’ in book stores and back matter and the first few pages of a book to see if I’d like it before I bought it instead of whining because books I didn’t like were published.

One thing I do agree with is that all the whining in the world isn’t going to make those of us who self-publish slink back into our caves.

Suw February 6, 2014 at 6:45 pm

JT, it’s funny that you talk about “throwing up more gates between consumer and writer”, because I don’t anywhere in the post advocate doing that. In fact, I don’t suggest any solution at all, because the only genuine solutions that exist at this point are focused on improving writers’ self-awareness and skill level, and they aren’t easy to implement. So to talk of “censorship” in response to my post is ridiculous, and perhaps a projection of what you want me to have said, rather than what I actually wrote.

It’s also odd that you think that I think that self-publishing isn’t a great thing. As it happens, I think self-publishing is fucking awesome. But it is possible to believe whole-heartedly in self-publishing and still be able to critique its current weaknesses. I think it’s actually healthy to be able to look critically at the industry you’re in, to examine its flaws and think about why those flaws might be, what might change things, and which issues are intractable.

As for the competition line, well, that’s just a cheap ad hominem based on, again, what you want to believe about me. I don’t see myself as in competition with other writers, because good writers aren’t fungible. You can’t substitute one for another. Readers may love your books, and love mine, so where’s the competition?

Suw February 6, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Again, as with JR, you seem happy to make assumptions about me. I am a self-published writer, so the idea that I want other self-published writers to slink back in their caves is silly. What I’d like is for a healthy discussion about the weaknesses of self-publishing, preferably without all this ad hom nonsense.

Btw, Amazon’s also-bought lists don’t influence that many purchase decisions, probably because they say nothing about the quality of the books that people also bought. Ditto reader reviews. But hey, don’t let facts get in the way of a good ad hom.

J.A. Konrath February 6, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Btw, Amazon’s also-bought lists don’t influence that many purchase decisions, probably because they say nothing about the quality of the books that people also bought. Ditto reader reviews.

So… you work for Amazon and know what percentage of books are bought based on also-boughts? Or you can read the minds of readers because you know for certain reader reviews don’t influence sales?

Perhaps you aren’t swayed by also-boughts or reader reviews, but it is a big leap to assume that every reader is the same as you.

It is also a big leap to assume that the shit volcano is erupting and won’t stop.

Please, show me the proof. There are three million ebook titles on Amazon. How many have you read?

I used to judge the Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest. I read things no one should have been subjected to. But I read them all before making my generalization that the vast majority of those who submitted to the contest had some fatal flaws in their ability. I actually came to the conclusion after doing the work, not based on some unprovable assumption.

Now I’m saying this while also agreeing with much of your post. Your three factors influencing the quality of a book are spot-on. But what you fail to do is prove what percentage of self-pubbed material is from writers who are unskilled and suffering from illusionary superiority. It comes off as alarmist, with zero evidence to support it.

The Tsunami of Crap is a poor argument that I debunked many years ago. Readers will always be able to find books they enjoy. Do you believe 99.99999% of the Internet is crap? And yet you still are easily able to find the good stuff you’re looking for.

Just like on YouTube. Just like with ebooks.

We’re in no danger of sinking into a morass of garbage.

Suw February 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Actually, JA, that point about also bought lists came from an analysis about purchase decisions from last year. Reader reviews are polluted by fakes, and there’s an estimate that some third of all reviews are fake, which . Google will provide links both, I’m sure. (I’m about to finish a non-put-offable chore, otherwise I’d find them for you.)

As for the extent of the shitcano, I’ll agree it’s hard to be precise as to exactly what percentage, but it doesn’t really matter if it’s 99% or 80% or 60%, because the points I make remain the same. There’s an awful lot of shit and an awful lot of empty vessels making an awful lot of sound. A reader doesn’t need to read all, or even most, or even 1% of all books on Amazon, they just need to read some and see what the break down is of shit to non-shit in what they read. For me, there’s been a lot more shit than great or OK, and from my conversations with other readers, I’m definitely not alone or even an outlier.

I don’t think it’s alarmist to talk about why shit books aren’t going away. It’s about examining our industry and thinking about why it might be as it is, and whether there is anything can be done about it. I happen to think that there’s not anything to be done at the moment, but that we’ll find a way through the problem, eventually – that’s outlined in my second post. I don’t like the idea of banning shit writers, or of having some sort of segregated Amazon, or any of the obvious “solution”, but I also don’t like the idea that we are somehow not allowed to talk about the crappy side of self-publishing. When discussing an industry’s flaws becomes verboten, when dissent is marginalised, then you’ve got cult-like thinking on your hands and that’s bad for everyone.

As for readers… you tell me not to generalise about them and then go right ahead and do the same thing. Yes, there will always be some readers who will dig through the crap to find the gems, but there are also readers who will not. And the worse the ratio of crap to gems, the harder it is for people to find what they want, the less likely they are to carry on digging.

YouTube isn’t a great comparison, nor are blogs as mentioned on The Digital Reader, because there’s a different consumption model with them than books, not least in that it takes seconds to know if a video is any good, but substantially longer with a book. And yes, I do actually believe that most of the internet is shit. Tellingly, I don’t “surf” the internet looking for good stuff like I did in the mid-90s, I wait for it to fall in my lap via Twitter, Zite, Facebook or what have you. I do go looking for books, however, even though some also appear on my radar serendipitously.

JT February 6, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Suw – If you think self-publishing is fucking awesome, why do you refer to it as a shit volcano? I assume you do not consider your own works to be part of the shit volcano….that would be other people’s books? If you loved self-publishing as a whole you also wouldn’t make statements like “But if the quality of self-published books is anything to go by, most self-publishers are at stage 1″ What percentage is “most”….is it 51%…is it 80%? You would have had to read hundreds of thousands of books to make an accurate assessment of what, in your opinion, is a book that is better than stage 1. How did you arrive at that conclusion? Who, other than the reader, should be the ultimate judge of quality? You? Chuck Wendig? Do you not see the problem? Are you sure you love self-publishing or is it more that you love self-publishing for you, but not for those other people who are less talented and too stupid to realize it? Those same people who are mucking up Amazon to the extent that nobody can find the real quality?

Bottom line is, there is no problem with there being a shit volcano….it is a fabricated issue. The idea that the sheer volume of self published work is degrading to culture and quality and will be the downfall of western civilization has been spawned by the fat sow that is the trade publishing industry and all those who suck on her many teats. If you truly love self publishing, you would embrace the idea that art comes in many forms and that quality is highly subjective – let the market decide what is crap and what isn’t. It’s not rocket science and nobody is going to die because Jim Bob self-published a poorly written, cliche riddled rip off of Twilight.

Suw February 6, 2014 at 9:34 pm

NOTE TO COMMENTERS: Comments will not now be moderated until Friday morning at the earliest, possibly later, depending.

Actually, I’m turning comments off. This weekend is going to be a really tough one for me for reasons which will become clear next week. I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with the discussion – which is getting unnecessarily combative, I might add – but I’d rather not just ignore the comments. If you want to continue the discussion, there are plenty of other blog posts where you can expound to your heart’s delight.

J.A. Konrath February 6, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Actually, JA, that point about also bought lists came from an analysis about purchase decisions from last year. Reader reviews are polluted by fakes, and there’s an estimate that some third of all reviews are fake, which . Google will provide links both, I’m sure. (I’m about to finish a non-put-offable chore, otherwise I’d find them for you.)

I’m not sure what terms exactly to Google. I’d love to see those links you’re referencing.

but it doesn’t really matter if it’s 99% or 80% or 60%, because the points I make remain the same.

I believe it does matter. What if it is 10%? Or 5%? And why harangue against something that isn’t demonstrably effecting anybody?

And if you’re convinced we’re being inundated with crap, how is Sturgeon’s Law more prevalent in self-pubbing? Isn’t 90% of everything crap?

Yes, there will always be some readers who will dig through the crap to find the gems, but there are also readers who will not. And the worse the ratio of crap to gems, the harder it is for people to find what they want, the less likely they are to carry on digging.

Who does this? Where is there evidence that people simply give up while searching online for ebooks or websites or YouTube videos?

And what evidence is there that the crap/gem ratio matters? I’m serious. You’re proposing that there is a problem, and I see no evidence the problem exists. Instead, I see people easily finding good books to read. My evidence is just as anecdotal as yours, but mine is provable because people continue to be able to find Internet websites, YouTube videos, and ebooks on Amazon, as evidenced by rankings, likes, and sales.

I also see good books that no one seems to be finding. But is this a result of there being too much crap? That’s a plausible hypothesis. So test it. Another hypothesis is that the author isn’t using correct keywords, or doing any promotion, or has a bad cover.

There have always been good books that remain undiscovered. And there have always been crap books that become bestsellers. Self-pub has lowered the barriers to entry, so it is a logical assumption that more crap is being published than ever before. But I don’t see any proof of harm, or reason for concern.

It is difficult to get noticed on Amazon, but it was difficult to get noticed on a shelf in B&N as well.

Again, I agree with much of your post, as it is well presented and makes a lot of sense. I can assume there are a lot of crappy self-pubbed ebooks, because I’ve run across dozens and I know they aren’t the only ones. But I don’t see a shit volcano, and I don’t see crappy books hurting readers or other authors, and I prefer to see evidence rather than take a premise at face value that it is true.

I’m enjoying the discussion. It’s nice to engage in civil discourse with a smart person.

Charles Hurst May 26, 2014 at 2:25 am

The largest evidence I see of the above is the attempted gaming of the system. A writer puts together about 200 plus pages of cliched dribble and then has all of his friends and family post reviews telling the world how great they are when they aren’t. A lot of them are not only not five star but are absolutely horrid. Where the reading is actually painful. Spelling errors on every other page, quotation marks missing and a flat plot that walks right into a brick wall. They get about 10-15 five star reviews of “I couldn’t put it down!!” and then once they run out of friends the rankings slowly slip back into the millions. On one hand self publishing gives us a chance out of the clutches and mercy of “The Publisher.” On the other the visibility is a Mount Everest climb to be seen even from a distance. It would be a lot easier if people would just get an editor’s opinion first before they put out their book they wrote in two weeks.

S. Alex Martin July 17, 2014 at 4:05 am

I just wrote a post about this exact same thing. A lot of self-published authors are all about spiting the agents and publishers who rejected their books…books that are half-edited, have inconsistent plots, and are just terrible in general because minimal work was put into them. It’s ruining the publishing industry, and literature in general, but all we hear about is how evil the traditional publishers are and that self-publishing is the hot new thing for self-proclaimed “under appreciated geniuses.”

Here’s my post and research if you’d like to see it: http://salexmartinauthor.blogspot.com/2014/07/most-self-published-authors-are-bunch.html

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: