Let’s be honest: most of us have probably judged self-published books at one point or another. I know personally before I started blogging, I had never read a self-published book because I thought the vast majority were going to be terribly written and not worth my time. After all, if it was really a good book, it would’ve been published by a big publisher, right? Well, no. But I didn’t know that.
Is it fair to judge self-published books and authors like this? Is it fair to assume that because a book is self-published that it’s going to be of a lesser quality than a book that’s been published by a big publisher like Harper Collins?
I think in some ways, yes. I hate to admit it, but there are some ways that self-published books are generally not quite as good as traditionally published ones. It’s not necessarily that the author isn’t good at what they do. And it doesn’t necessarily mean the book isn’t worth reading. But self-published authors often lack resources. They may not have a professional cover designer or editors or other people who can help fine-tune their work. Honestly, how many errors have you found in self-published books? I know I’ve found my fair share of them.
There is also the issue that literally anyone can self-publish. So yes, there can be some truly awful books out there that have been self-published because they couldn’t be traditionally published. This is luckily not something I’ve come across, but I’m sure it does happen.
But I don’t think it’s fair to write off every self-published book just because it’s self-published. When I started blogging, I started receiving a lot of review requests from indie and self-published authors so I started actually reading these books and I have found some really great books this way. C.E. Wilson is a self-published author whose books I really enjoy (although they do sometimes fall prey to errors). Other books that were self-published that I thoroughly enjoyed include The Oleah Chronicles by Michelle Johnson and Just a Few Inches by Tara St. Pierre. (EDIT: How in God’s name did I forget to mention The Edge of Juniper by Lora Richardson?! One of my favorite reads this year! Shame on me.) So it’s definitely not true that every self-published book is terrible.
Why would someone self-publish if they could, presumably, get their book picked up by a publisher and get all the benefits of traditional publishing? Often times, authors want to keep complete control over their book. Once you sign a contract with a publisher, it’s no longer completely yours. Other people have an influence on it and you may have to make changes or do things with your book that you may not want to do. If that’s something you really don’t want to have to put up with, self-publishing is a great option for you. You can still publish your work but don’t have to let other people tell you what to do with it.
Authors may also want to work at their own pace without feeling pressure from deadlines. Publishers can impose really stressful deadlines on authors and if you don’t work well under pressure or time constraints, or you just want to take your time without feeling like you have to write at a certain pace, it may make more sense to just publish your book(s) on your own.
So is it fair to judge self-published books? Maybe to some extent, but I don’t think readers should write-off these books as poor quality or a waste of time. There are a lot of self-published books out there that are great stories waiting to be discovered.