Friday, November 12, 2010

Amazon: A River of Self-Published Books

Many people are weighing in on the decisions made by Amazon this week and while I am utterly sickened by the content around the book in question – it has me thinking about other ramifications that could come out of this. There has been a long standing debate over self-published books in general: both novels and non-fiction. While the past five years has seen a growth spurt in self–published books (many of which run straight to Amazon’s digital services as they offer the best % of return for authors), there has always been a question about who is reviewing/editing/signing-off on these books. 

I read all the time and I’ve read both books published by large publishing houses and even some that are self-published that I can download to my kindle. And I’ve enjoyed (and sometimes detested) both sets. Just because an editor is behind something doesn’t always mean it’s going to be the best book to come around. But the fury over Amazon’s decision to place the right to ‘make a buck’ over the right to ‘make a moral decision’ will most likely turn people away from the self-published books that already had a stigma attached to them. (Even though not all publishing houses still employ full time editors to work with every author they bring through their doors.) 

I have submitted novels to several small publishing houses & most of which tell you what they will and will not print. (Pedophilia, bestiality, gratuitous sex scenes are just a few of the “not allowed” topics I've seen.) Getting a publisher is difficult at best. It all depends on what your writing, who your audience is, and if someone will be willing to pay for that book before a publisher can champion it. 

I’ll be curious to see what kind of changes this debacle will put in store for the hundreds of writers out there who actually write quite well, but are unable to get that break of a publishing house. Thanks to Mr. Greaves – the outlet they have formerly had may not be as available to them in the future. And if they are writing a fiction book or memoir that deals with gruesome details of an awful childhood – those authors may be thinking twice before sharing such incidents. I suppose it all remains to be seen how this will play out for struggling writers who actually have stories to share and not despicable ‘how-to’ novels on evading the law.  

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