A lot of folks on the Kindle user boards and other places are touting the “Self Published is Evil!” banner. Probably because the small press and indie authors over there are constantly promoting themselves. Again, someone is trying to promote the idea that all self-published work is bad (and trying to throw the small press in with that crowd).
This really isn’t always the case. First – Kindle has a neat feature called “SAMPLE”. Nook Readers also have this option. Reading a sample of a book or finding an excerpt online is really the smart way to research a book BEFORE you buy it. Even books put out by big publishers should be sampled first! Just because it’s put out by a publisher whose name you recognize is no guarantee it’s good or that you’ll like it. At the most, you can expect 1-4 funky typos per book whereas some self-published stuff may have more errors than that. Depends on the indie author and how (s)he is.
I’ve kind of stepped away from reading nothing but big publishers lately and have moved into reading almost exclusively small press and Indie (minus a few series I’m following). Why? Because the small presses and indies are oftentimes willing to tread into new or taboo territory. They aren’t afraid to take chances on new authors or stories with themes or topics the main stream won’t touch with a ten-foot-pole.
Basically – I’ve noticed a lot of what’s being put out by the big presses these days is really cookie-cutter and formulaic and to be honest with you, I’m bored with reading the same books over and over again. I’ve found that in small presses and Indie authors, this doesn’t seem to happen as frequently until the author falls into a pattern (i.e. they find a book that sells well and then they write that same book over and over again).
Okay – let’s be honest. YES, there probably are a higher number of lemons in the Indie market. The small press at least provides some sort of barrier (i.e. editorial input). But really I’ve read a lot of crap in the mainstream press, too. A good book is a subjective thing. Now granted tons of spelling errors and really poor writing has no place in the publishing world regardless the size of the publisher (or lack thereof). However, you can usually weed those books out by using the SAMPLE feature. SAMPLE is your friend.
I guess my point is don’t discount self-published books or even small presses (a lot of people erroneously think that just because a small press isn’t well known that it’s a self-publishing front) because you’re going to miss out on a lot of good, unique, and interesting work by writers who don’t suck.
The truth of the matter is that good writers are a dime a dozen (there are a lot of us out here), but big publishers only have so many books they can put out each year by new authors. This means a lot of good books are passed over in favor of celebrity authors (guaranteed income for the publisher), or authors who are already known and have a following. Some of those good, yet rejected-by-a-big-publisher books end up with a home at a small press, and others are self-published. Just sayin’…
Oh – and on that note as someone who has a whole slew of self-published non-fiction – I’d say my thousands of copies sold and hundreds of fans really say otherwise about how “horrible” self published writers are. Not to mention that I have fans with all my small press fiction as well (in three different genres). Now sure – none of it’s self published and it all goes through an editor and editorial process, but I put my self-pubbed stuff through a similar process and very rarely do I get some anal retentive reader who complains about my split infinitives, how I used a comma on page 93, or whatnot. Most readers judge on content. I didn’t become a bestselling indie (i.e. Small Press because we did brand it) non-fiction author by sucking. 😉