Monday, 3 April 2017
The world of book publishing has been changing for some time. The recession saw the big name houses less willing to take a punt on new authors and instead choosing to stick mainly with established names or prostituting themselves with an onslaught of celebrity bios.
No wonder so many writers went down the indie route. With the advent of Amazon Kindle and 'Print on Demand' tools, they've been able to access a vast audience without having to relinquish a substantial 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 DIY publishing is that the market has become flooded with mediocrity, 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: British chicklit author Amanda Egan's books all carry 4.5 - 5*star ratings/reviews in Amazon's bookstore - and have often featured in Top 50 filters and even #1 in certain categories - but can sometimes also languish in mid-division amidst a tide of free or have-a-go wannabe titles. This is primarily due to Amazon's woefully inadequate classification system, where amateur erotica sits incongruously next to legitimate romance novels. Amazon don't even have anything as straightforward as a 'chicklit' category when writers upload their books - surely one of the biggest markets out there with heavily promoted women's writers like Jill Mansell, Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella.
So to some extent it's understandable that many romance/romcom indies slip under the radar of newspaper and magazine book reviewers - for a while eBooks appeared in their automatically generated Top 20 lists, but these were dropped when they became distorted by freebie downloads and other manipulated promotions.
But I can't help but sense a certain snobbery against writers who don't rise up through the conventional publishing channels - perhaps because only the author and the outlet benefit financially - and readers ares therefore having their choices largely dictated to by media reviewers who perhaps ignore or are not even aware of a wealth of indie talent out there.
Dare I speculate that they, or their employers, are in the publishers' pockets? - or that they perhaps find it easier just to read the books that land on their desks because the publishers have the distribution means and resources to get them there?
I hope that's not the case - and I concede that E L James may be a rare exception - but it's become my mission to raise the indie profile. It begins here.
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