The world of books is changing. The recession has seen publishing houses less willing to take a punt on new authors and instead choosing to stick with established names or prostituting themselves with the latest celebrity offerings.
No wonder so many writers are turning indie as, with the advent of Kindle and 'Print on Demand' tools, they're able to reach a vast audience without having to relinquish a slice of their income to either the publishers themselves or the increasingly irrelevant agents the industry still insists on using as go-betweens.
But the downside of this ease of DIY publishing is that the market is becoming flooded with dross, making it more difficult for real talent to rise to the surface. Quality is being stifled by the sheer weight of titles a potential buyer has to trawl through, often leading to disappointment in the choices they make.
A case in point - this British chicklit author's three books all carry 5*star ratings/reviews but are currently languishing in Amazon bookstore's mid-division amidst a tide of free or have-a-go wannabe titles, due to Amazon's woefully inadequate classification system - amateur pornography sits incongruously next to legitimate romance novels and Amazon doesn't even have anything as straightforward as a 'chicklit' category.
So, while I can't offer advice on how to find that shiny needle in the Amazon haystack, I can at least offer you some tips on how to differentiate the good from the bad and the downright ugly before you commit to making a purchase you might regret:
- Try before you buy. Most titles on Amazon will give you access to a preview by allowing you to click on the book icon to 'Look Inside'.
- Establish the writer's pedigree. Look at their star rating, reviews and if they have more than one book in the stable or whether they're just one trick ponies (that said, all writers need to start somewhere, so don't be too dismissive of a debut novel).
- Use social media tools like Twitter or Facebook, or book forums, to seek recommendations from friends or like-minded readers.
- Look for writers with a coherent marketing strategy and read their blogs and web pages to get a further insight of the personality behind the book.
Please feel free to comment or add your own suggestions.