You hear a lot of talk in the publishing world these days about indie published ebooks. Some think they’re nothing short of the salvation of western civilization because they allow authors to connect directly to readers. Others, to a large extent publishers, editors, and agents, insist that indie publishing will bury us all under a tsunami of crap. And of course you every possible position in between those two extremes.
A couple of days ago, Passive Guy at The Passive Voice, posted something about a publisher reporting ebook sales. In the comments section, Mick Griggs included a link to this essay. (Thanks, PG and Mick.)
Mark Williams, the author of that essay insists, quite convincingly, that instead of a tsunami of crap, we’re starting to see a tsunami of excellence. If you have an ereader, are thinking about buying an ereader, or even interested in what effect ereaders and epublishing will have on your future book buying, you should check that essay out.
I decided to do a little commentary myself, based on some things I’ve posted lately over at Adventures Fantastic.
I’ve looked at four indie ebooks in the last month. Those books were Tisarian’s Treasure, Age of Giants: Awakening, Dark Heroes, and Stones. The links in the previous sentence are to the reviews.
Now, this analysis is completely unscientific; statistically speaking, my sample size is too small to be significant.
Still, as a snapshot, it is an informative look at what’s going on in the adventure and fantasy fields. Two of the books, Tisarian’s Treasure and Dark Heroes, are available in print editions as well as electronic formats. The question is, are these publications crap?
When dealing with electronic publishing, crap can be defined two ways. One is the quality of the writing itself. The other is the formatting. I’ll address the latter first, since formatting is something that can be changed fairly easily after publication compared to print books. With the partial exception of Dark Heroes, with which I had some issues in regard to no table of contents, all the books listed above were well formatted, had decent to great cover art that reflected the content, and were well laid out and organized.
The quality of the works varied a little, because Dark Heroes was an anthology and some of the stories didn’t resonate with me as well as others, but all were at the worst well written and highly readable. The better written stories flowed, grabbed me, and made me want to read more. Given that these books started at $0.99, and most major publishers’ electronic books start at $6.99 or $7.99, I’d say any one of the four I’ve looked at are a better buy than almost anything coming out of major New York houses.
Like I said, I realize my sample size isn’t a representative cross-section of what’s out there. But I want to argue that it doesn’t have to be. I’m old enough to know what I like. I’m going to pick up books that I think will appeal to my tastes and preferences. That doesn’t mean everything I read will, but I load the odds in my favor. I also like a lot of variety and am not afraid to try something new from time to time. Indie publishing provides that at affordable prices.
When was the last time you saw something really new come out of New York publishing? The majority of books from major publishers look fairly interchangeable to me.
Is there crap in the world of indie publishing? Yes. Sturgeon’s Law, remember? But clearly there’s excellence out there, too. New York publishing has gotten so afraid of taking risks that we’re being given a steady diet of the same old thing. Indie writers are finding an audience that they haven’t been able to find through major houses. More power to them.
Oh, and that tsunami of crap that New York publishers, editors, and agents say we’ll be drowning in? I agree, we are drowning in a tsunami of crap. I just don’t think it’s coming from indie publishing.