So, I did it. I took the plunge and put my most recent book up for sale in the Kindle Store.
You can check it out or buy it for $1 here
I did it because I wanted it out there and available for anyone who might want to read it. I did it because I wanted it off my desk and I wanted some kind of resolution after spending the time and energy to write it that didn’t result in the manuscript moldering away in my desk drawer. So it’s out there. Now we get to see what happens with it.
We live in a strange time where authors have a direct line to readers and can completely and utterly cut out almost every middle man. Sure, Amazon takes its cut out of the sales, and the amount they charge can be a little more than an author might think is legitimate, but it does provide a market place, allows authors to avoid the tedious query letter process, agents, slush piles and publishing houses. Is this a good thing? That remains to be seen.
Ultimately, you’ll only read a few thousand books in your lifetime, if that. Assuming you read two books every week from the time you’re five until you’re eighty that makes for 7,800 books. Now, traditionally, terrible books just never make it out of the publishing house. Or, that’s the theory anyway. The rigorous process of submissions and proofing and editing probably did increase the quality of the books that made it to market. However, think about this, the publishing house is a business. Agencies are businesses. The goal of a business is to make money. The do this by selling a product. If the product is not marketable i.e. a great book that may not sell well in the immediate few months after publication, then it does not get published.
Should this really be the yard-stick by which we measure which books people should be able to read and which books they should not?
I don’t think so. I think that the current publishing system does, in many cases, help sort the wheat from the chaff, but in just as many I think it’s a serious speed bump to authors and readers.
Now, I’d never pay to self-publish, so publishing electronically helps me avoid doing so. It’s free. Hooray.
That means that I can cut out the middle man, and get my product out to market without cost. That means that thousands of other authors can do so as well. That means that as a reader you’re going to have more options available than ever before.
E-publishing offers a greater freedom to the reader and the author than they have ever had in the past, by tossing aside the old gatekeepers.
However, with a lack of regulation the reader is the sole arbiter of what is worth reading and what is not worth reading. With only one life to live and only so many slots to fit in a few good books, the reader will have to work harder to find books that he or she will enjoy. I don’t know if they will. I don’t know if the process of trying out new books with no guarantee of quality will increase or decrease an individuals aptness to read. Time will tell.
In the end, this is a very exciting time for readers and writers. We have gained a huge degree of freedom and we have gained a huge degree of choice. There is potential here and if it works I think the literary world will be the better for it.