Normally, I don't read self-published novels. I have it in my review policy that I don't accept them, the reason being that for the most part, they just aren't as good as the books I see published by actual publishers. However, when a YA author whose work I respect asked me to review a novel self-published on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, I gave it a shot, and found that I actually really liked it. You can read my review of that book, Helper12 by Jack Blaine (pseudonym to protect author's identity), here.
Reading and enjoying Helper12 got me to thinking .about my philosophy regarding self-published work, and made me wonder if I need to revise my stance. In the digital age, it has become very, very easy for anyone to self-publish work, especially on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And with the popularity of e-readers (and the ridiculously high cost of many published e-books), the potential audience for self-published e-books is wider than ever.
We can argue that self-published works are of lesser quality than other books--I've heard people say that "those sorts of books are self-published for a reason--because no one else will buy them." But you have to wonder if that is always the case. We've all heard stories of how hard it is to find agents, sometimes how poorly authors are treated by their publishers, and how some famous books (like Eragon by Christopher Paolini) were first self-published before going on to find a home and fame with a big publisher.
And with e-publishing looking more attractive financially (Amanda Hocking reportedly made millions on her self-published work before signing a deal with Macmillan) and more established, published authors (like Jack Blaine) turning to self-publishing, you have to wonder if everything you always thought about self-published books is changing.
Here's what I think it comes down to: we stick with books that are published by a traditional publisher because they have more of a presence when we look for books, and because we have this notion that traditionally published equals a standard of quality. We hardly ever pick up self-published books because we would have to go looking for them (and when there's so many published book vying for our attention, we hardly ever do), and there's this idea that they aren't going to be well-written.
Here's what I think we ought to do: remember that sometimes publishers will put out books that aren't very good. It's not exactly their fault...sometimes they sell really well, and publishers need money so they can continue to publish the awesome books we like too. And there are times (sometimes more often than you think) when you stumble across a great self-published novel that you really liked. (Helper12!)
So, maybe our perspective needs to change a little bit...what do you all think?
Check back tomorrow for an interview with Jack Blaine about self-publishing versus going with a traditional publisher!