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Saturday Book Discussion: So who's reading all those self-published ebooks, anyway?



Once upon a time, becoming a published author required jumping through hoops and getting past gatekeepers, generally known as agents and publishers. If you were rich and/or famous, you could skip some of those hoops, but generally you had to be able to convince someone that you could actually write, or else pay a ghostwriter.

If you were determined to get your book published even though no one wanted it, you could either try self-publishing or vanity publishing. Both routes tended to be expensive and generally left you with boxes full of unsold books in your garage.

Now, however, we are facing the "ebook revolution." Anyone can publish. Kind of.

Through sites such as CreateSpace, Lulu, and Smashwords, it is trivially easy and essentially free to upload your manuscript, and with the press of a few buttons, turn it into an ebook for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.

The name every aspiring self-publisher now chants like a mantra is Amanda Hocking, who became enormously popular (and is now represented by an agent and a trade publisher) with her series of self-published paranormal romances that she sold dirt cheap on Amazon. There are also professional authors who have decided to ditch trade publishing and go it alone, like Michael Stackpole and J.A. Konrath. Some of them are predicting the death of "traditional" publishing and claiming that agents, editors, and publishing houses are dinosaurs, soon to be extinct.

Well, speaking for myself, I like gatekeepers. Most of these self-published ebooks are absolutely dreadful. Not Twilight dreadful or Dan Brown dreadful, but "Unclear on the concept of subject-verb agreement and punctuation" dreadful. And even the ones written in technically proficient prose are still usually appallingly bad, the bottom of the slushpile.

But there is a booming market for free/cheap ebooks.

So what I am curious to know is, how many people actually go trawling the lists of cheap Kindle books for reading material? I've occasionally tried sampling something that was obviously self-published, and have yet to find anything that I'd actually pay money for. For the most part, the drek-to-gold ratio seems to be pretty comparable to fanfiction.net.

Note: I am excluding from the category of "self-published" books that have been posted for free by professional authors such as John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow. Yes, they've electronically "self-published" some of their novels, but only after those books went through professional editing and trade publication.

Answer the poll, and feel free to post a rec if you've found any self-published gems.

Poll #1765644 Self-published ebooks

Do you ever read self-published ebooks?

Lots! They're cheap and entertaining.
3(4.1%)
Sometimes. You can find some decent ones if you're willing to look.
9(12.2%)
I occasionally give them a try, but it's hard to find anything worth reading.
9(12.2%)
I've read one or two, but not been impressed.
10(13.5%)
I'd rather choke on a Kindle.
43(58.1%)


Warning!



Recs from readers are welcome. Self-published authors trying to pimp their own books risk being mocked mercilessly, like this guy and this guy.



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  • Terminus, by Peter Clines

    A sequel to 14, in which the Great Old Ones arrive to eat the world. Kavach Press, 2020, 333 pages Murdoch’s past has finally come…

  • Burr, by Gore Vidal

    Aaron Burr in his own words... kind of. Random House, 1973, 430 pages Here is an extraordinary portrait of one of the most complicated -…

  • Aria: The Masterpiece, Volume 2

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