Readers: Giving Self-Published Authors and Independents a Chance
According to Andre Schiffrin, 80% of the book sales are controlled by five conglomerates. That’s it. Do you want them deciding what you should read? I don’t. Maybe they are benevolent paternal-types who screen countless manuscripts to weed the wheat from the chaff just for us cherished readers, but I highly doubt it. They are in the business of making money, which is understandable. People don’t generally go into business to lose money. But when a particular market is so sewn up like the book market appears to be, we begin to have a situation where readers are being led instead of deciding for themselves. For purposes of this article, I have lumped these mainstream publishers together under one moniker, Big Daddy Publishers.
Big Daddy Publishers flood the market with their products. They get the prime spots in the bookstores and markets. They have the power and the scope to shove aside many worthy but smaller competitors.
Oftentimes, people make book purchases on the spur of the moment, an impulsive decision while shopping for groceries or household goods, or perhaps in an airport kiosk. I have even seen Big Daddy books in convenience stores and gas stations along the interstate. For impulse buys, Big Daddy has the advantage of mass distribution.
Other readers select their books according to authors they love or those whose works they want to explore. Again, Big Daddy pretty much has those covered.
Some of books published by Big Daddy will be excellent, some poor in quality. Big Daddy isn’t always a good judge of literary value. I read a book recently that was so badly written; I was stunned it ever made it past the editor, let alone into print. Yet it was a Big Daddy publication.
However, there are other players out there, now more than ever. There are small presses, independent publishers, self-publishers, print-on-demand, vanity presses, and individual authors who have gone to the expense of printing their own works. However, these smaller companies and individuals do not have the distribution prowess to compete with Big Daddy. For anyone outside the Big Daddy circle, readers have to be dedicated to track down their books. Their books are not likely to be setting on a store shelf, conveniently accessible to the average impulse buyer.
It’s true that anyone can publish now using a variety of means outside of acceptance by Big Daddy. And some of the work being printed is very badly written. I have read two self-published books that were mediocre at best. I will not say the titles or the authors, as they have enough working against them without my criticism. So, when people assume self-published means poor quality, there is some basis for that assumption. But it is not necessarily always the case.
I still believe there are good books out there that Big Daddy wasn’t smart enough to pick up on, or that weren’t offered to him. And I intend to find them! I encourage other readers to do the same. Next time you want a book and you don’t have a particular author or title in mind, take a risk. Peruse the self-published offerings and see what’s out there. Always, if you have bought a dud, you can write a brilliant review of the book and warn others not to make the same mistake. You may be holding a lemon in your hand, but on the other hand, there is a topic for some content on your website or blog. So, it wasn’t a total loss.
While this article is geared toward readers, I would like to pass on this helpful article to any writers out there who are considering self-publishing: “So you want to be a "Published Author" by Immartin on HubPages.
Now, back to you, readers. I have done some looking on lulu.com and selected five titles that caught my attention. I will be ordering some of the books on this list. I am hoping others will follow suit.
Small Pleasures: Mya's Story by Darnishia Bolden
Bloodraven by PL Nunn
Light Seeds by Michael St. Clair
Among Pigeons by Lawrence A. Wood, M.D.
Walk With Me by Kristin L. Lanari
Oh, I admit I will still buy books from Big Daddy. He publishes many of the authors I admire and whose works I enjoy reading. But, I am also keeping an open mind with regard to those books outside Big Daddy’s extensive catalog.
In my quest for the best self-published books, I wonder if you have any favorites to recommend? If so, please leave the title and author in your comment, and thank you for sharing!
I will continue to search the internet for more self-published novels and books by small presses and independents that look intriguing and post what I find.
Happy reading to us all!