Have you heard the one about the publishing industry?
A writer, an editor and a reader walk into an Establishment Pub[lishing] House. The affronted publisher asks, “What’s the story here?” The writer: “I’d like people to read what I’ve written.” The editor: “I’d like to edit fresh, original stories by real people rather than celebrities.” The reader: “I’d like to read the best fiction rather than what will sell whether it’s good or not.” The publisher: “Sorry, you’re not my type.”
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Okay, so I don’t know the first thing about writing jokes, but I wanted to find a way to illustrate to readers that indie publishing is here to stay. That phrase “vanity publishing” still floats around, and for a writer, that’s pretty much the ultimate insult. But it’s an old-fashioned term that only serves to muddy the waters for a reader who is trying to find well-written fiction.
Are there “writers” out there who will self-publish work that is unedited and second-rate? Sure. “Buyer beware” is as true in buying books as toasters. That doesn’t mean the bulk of published works which are not products of a traditional publishing house are in that category. And we all know that buying from traditional publishers is no guarantee of quality. You may find that there’s an attention to detail from an indie published book that you haven’t seen in a long time in mass-market fiction.
So, while there are no guarantees that what you buy from an independent publisher (or a work self-published by the author—which may or may not be the same thing) will be a good product, here are some ways to increase the chances that you’ll like what you get:
Read reviews and read them critically (Goodreads, Amazon)
Enter to win Giveaways on Goodreads!
Look for free excerpts – free first chapters are often available for e-books
Take advantage of promotions such as a limited-time free or low-priced story from a novel or story from a collection
Buy a short story from an author who also markets novels – your monetary commitment is less and after reading a short story, you’ll at least know if it’s an author whose work interests you
Check out the publisher and/or author website – it may give you some clues as to how professionally they take their work
If you like the freebie, don’t simply go away satisfied, stay and buy the whole book. AND—this is very important!—take the time to write a decent review. Little old you can do a lot to help that writer become a widely-read author. In the new publishing world, it’s not only writers who have more power to get their work out to the public; there’s also more power in your hands. Use it for good.
This summer, why not make a resolution to read only indie books! Third Person Press is doing a GIVEAWAY on Goodreads now. Sign up!