The ease of self-publishing has been great for mid-list authors and authors with big, out-of-print backlists. But it also means that anybody with a mouse and an Internet account can be "published."
Naturally, aspiring authors love this…now there are no gatekeepers keeping their masterpieces from the hands of the reading public. But, as it turns out, readers aren't so thrilled that the slush pile has spilled over onto their Kindles, as Eric Felton writes in a piece today for the Wall Street Journal.
It isn't just the elusive prospect of riches that excites the untold thousands of hopefuls crowding into the new self-publishing space. They are buoyed by escaping the grim frustrations of trying to get published the old-fashioned way. No more form-letter rejections from know-nothing agents and can't-be-bothered editors.
It's only natural for those locked out to despise the gatekeepers, but what about those of us in the reading public? Shouldn't we be grateful that it's someone else's job to weed out the inane, the insipid, the incompetent? Not that they always do such a great job of it, given some of the books that do get published by actual publishers. But at least they provide some buffer between us and the many aspiring authors who are like the wannabe pop stars in the opening weeks of each "American Idol" season: How many instant novelists are as deluded as the singers who make with the strangled-cat noises believing they have Arethaen pipes?
[…]The stodgy old gatekeepers are to be replaced with "social media." But self-publishers are finding that getting the attention of the crowd once their e-books are out there isn't easy. Which leads to efforts to game the judgment of the new and amorphous network of influence.
Look in the forums Amazon hosts for its Kindle "direct publishers" and you won't find many posts asking how to do the basics of traditional book production—copy editing, anyone? But there are plenty of threads with titles like "Promote your book" and "review swapping?"—orgies of desperate back-scratching that make old-school literary logrolling seem downright genteel.
He is so right. In their eagerness to be the next Amanda Hocking, hordes of self-published authors are forgetting the most important elements for success: genuine talent, a fresh voice, a great story and strong writing skills.