Our VG Readers Say It Better Than I Can
November 17, 2012
Earlier, I wrote a blog that suggested today’s readers might be more sophisticated about good books than a lot of authors, especially some Indie writers.
I wrote about them: They go on Amazon with a book that’s crammed with mistakes. The books often have more errors than the Pittsburg Pirates infield. They don’t spend a little money to make sure the book is produced right. They don’t pay for editing. They don’t pay for proofreading. They Google up some stock art, slap it on the cover, and rush off to join Hemingway, Faulkner, Wolfe, and Sandburg to discuss the wonders and joys of being a published author. They certainly don’t need a graphic designer to give their book a chance to make a great first impression. They have photo shop. And what do the readers and book buyers think when the see the book? It looks homemade It reads homemade.
My random words received a couple of comments – Thank God for comments – that were better written and did a far better job of covering the publishing landscape than my original blog did. I would like to share them with you.
The first came from Claude Nougat who resides in Rome, is a brilliant writer, and is deadly serious about good writing and producing good books. She wrote:
“This is a needed reminder to Indies that they should pull their act together if they want to “make it” among the great authors. This said, I don’t believe most Indies have those aspirations (do they even read the great authors, do they like Hemingway et al.?) My impression is that ninety percent of indies are into genre lit, romance, chick lit, thrillers, sci fi and the like. And of course, that’s what sells on Amazon (and other e-platforms).
“Actually, I’ve been wondering lately what digital publishing is really doing to the business of publishing. By making it so easy to publish on KDP, Amazon has in fact opened the door to the “slushpile”. There are no taste gatekeepers on Amazon. Anything in a word doc. can be published, no holds barred!
And now we see the sorry results: over one million titles, most of them totally worthless. A waste of time, and yes, readers are savvy, they’ve learned their lesson: they download a sample before buying anything. I know that’s what I do. But even that strategy doesn’t help you to seek out and discover what’s good! Why? Because the strategy takes time: to download, to read the sample…And there are over ONE MILLION titles to sift through!! So now, the real challenge for a writer, even a very good one, is to get discovered. To get that famous buzz going around his/her books. How does one do it? Customer reviews? That’s the preferred strategy but we’ve seen to what excesses this has led to lately, not to mention Amazon slapping a killer alogrithm that has brought down reviews that were perfectly bona fideae (I know because that’s just happened to me!)
‘The way out? I don’t know. Maybe Amazon should start making Indies pay for putting up their novels on KDP Select. Make it truly select by setting up a barrier of critique/analyst/reviewers before publishing? Certainly a barrier based on some basic quality criteria should be possible (for example: no more than 2 or 3 typos per manuscript!)
BVS Books wrote: I think in a lot of cases authors are too close to their own work to see the shortcomings in it. As an editor I reject most of the submissions I receive – why? It’s not because the authors purposely chose to send me less than their best work. It’s that they sent me their best work but they were too close to it to see that the point of view was shallow, that they told the story rather than having shown it through the characters’ experiences.
I don’t believe that most authors are malicious in putting out work that’s less than their best. I think most are simply too close to see what pieces they are missing. I think too that what writers think is good is often different than what readers think is good.
There is much debate as to the quality of writing in Fifty Shades of Grey – and yet the sales of the second and third parts of the trilogy point to the fact that readers liked it and thought it was good enough to warrant buying and reading.
What is “good” depends on what a reader wants and what a reader prizes in the books they enjoy. That’s why we don’t all have the same authors on our auto-buy lists.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. I wish I could. But I can’t, and, fortunately, I know it.