The Evils of Self Publishing: A Reader’s View

*I’d like to start the following semi-rant with the clarification that it’s from Melissa the reader, not Missy the writer. That one will come later.*

Self-publishing is all the rave right now and for some this is a really good thing. However, as a reader I’m still on the fence. I love that I can download a plethora of books for free, legally from authors who just want to get their name out there. I love that I can buy just as many books for as little as $ .99. That is, I love it until I actually try to read the books.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of authors out there who actually take the time to edit their books, or have them professionally edited. There are authors who take enough pride in their work to be certain they are putting a quality product on the market. Unfortunately, there are just as many who either don’t or just don’t seem to. To be honest, it’s gotten to the point where when I open a book file and see the publisher as Smashwords I cringe, and consider not even reading it. It’s rare for me to read a Smashwords book with few to no errors in it. Correction, I don’t think I’ve ever read one with no errors in it. And I don’t just mean typos. There are grammatical errors and writing fundamentals mistakes that make me roll my eyes and think, why didn’t this author catch that?

In most products I’m a firm believer of you get what you pay for. It’s a shame that I’m beginning to wonder if that’s not the case with literature as well. I’ve never added a review to Goodreads that says I’m glad I got the book for free, but it’s been very tempting. There are just too many where that applies.

So, self-publishing, is it a good thing? Is it helping the industry? Honestly I just don’t know. Again, as a reader, I have my doubts because of the quality of product that I’m getting when I look. However, I’ve only really looked in the romance genre and it’s sub-genres. If this is going to be the trend with the types of books I love to read, my heart is truly broken.


8 thoughts on “The Evils of Self Publishing: A Reader’s View

  1. I agree that there is a lot of rough to go through before you come up with a diamond, but there are some fabulous self-published books. Over time, I think we will come up with easier ways to separate out the quality books. I know of one group that is launching a screening program for ebooks, where books which pass their rigorous standards will be allowed to place a seal of approval on the cover. This will be a signal to readers that at least the editing is quality.


  2. Hey there, just my 2 cents…I think you can distinguish self pubbed books by authors who have books published in more traditional venues, from books published by brand new authors. Those of us who do this for a living understand the value of a good edit. It seems the more we learn the more we understand how much we don't know. LOL

    I'm afraid virgin authors suffer from such tender egos (I know I certainly did!) that they're reluctant to put themselves through an edit process, often to the detriment of their work.

    However, many of the very talented authors I work with today are now self pubbing their own stories in addition to publishing books through traditional houses. I'd trust these authors to put out quality work, and reviews of their books would seem to back that up. Thanks for the great post!


  3. Jesi and Hollie, I think a seal of approval would be great! The only problem I've had with judging by reviews is I don't usually agree with them.

    Sam, I also look for familiar names when sifting through self-pubbed books. I just wish I could trust the “virgin” authors more, lol.

    Thanks for the comments!


  4. Self-publishing is a tricky thing. I have one friend who took to it after everyone told her the NY market was saturated with historicals. She currently makes around six figures self-pubing them, and just paid cash for a brand new car. I love to hate her. That said, not everyone will have that kind of success, or even warrent it with the quality of their output. Right now, I only buy self-pub'd from established authors I know and like. Cynthia Eden, for example, has a novella series she pub's using Smashwords and it's fantastic. She was also part of a group that did an anthology to raise money for cancer that was a self-pub. But not everyone can do that. As a reader, I'm not about to go out there and wade through the slush of cheap reads to find a good one. Sadly for self-pubs, I'm still relying on traditional print and epub's to tell me what's good enough to spend a buck on.


  5. That's awesome for your friend, Sidney, but yeah it's like the lottery. We can't all be lucky enough to write the exact book that's going to fly off the virtual shelves.
    Thanks for the comment! I'm going to check out Cynthia Eden 😉


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