By Ben Galley for Live Write Thrive:
It’s a sad truth, and one that is almost immediately apparent to most, that self-published works can be immediately dismissed due to their origins. From readers, to blogs, to bookshops, the word self-published is often greeted with a grimace and a groan. Some of you may not have experienced this yet, but I guarantee you will in time. But why is this reputation such a notorious one? And, more importantly, what can we do to escape it?
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In a nutshell, one of the reasons for this stigma is the high volume of low quality, rushed self-published works available. The large majority of readers will be unforgiving of books with no proper editing or a cover made in Word. It’s painted a poor initial view of us. Notoriety results. A bad reputation is a hard one to shrug. For readers who may have simply tried a few indie books in the past and been consistently disappointed, they are unlikely to try again. The same goes for reviewers.
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Combine this with the misconception that self-publishing is simply Vanity Publishing: a last resort to rejected authors, authors that therefore must not be very good at what they do, and we’ve got a community that thinks all self-published books are substandard. Who would want to buy a book by a rubbish author? This, combined with an already shaky reputation, has caused many readers, reviewers, press, and bookshops to close their doors. Many for good.
This is simply untrue. So what do we do about this? Do we campaign? Do we street march? Speak out? No, the simple answer is this: We attain quality.
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Readers are now the curators of quality. People are quick to champion a good book, and many, despite those I spoke about in the first part of this post, don’t care where the book has come from. They just want a good read. Couple that with a crowd of intuitive rating, review, and comments sites such as Goodreads, or the ability to rate and review directly at retailers like Amazon, and we see readers being responsible for pushing quality to the top.
Our readers’ thoughts are now our quality stamp, and their thoughts rest solely on the quality of our books. Understanding that is key!
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For those of us who spend time and money on quality, self-publishing is not a curse word, or a slur, or detrimental term. When I’m at a signing and somebody picks up my book and remarks on how good it looks or feels, and when they looked shocked as I say “self-published,” I get a smile. I’m passionate about telling people what I’ve done and why because I believe, reader by reader, I’m quashing the stigma. I see other authors doing exactly the same and it makes me very happy indeed!
As more of us raise the bar, we need to be vocal about who and what we are. That way more and more readers will change their minds. Reviewers will amend their policies. Slowly but surely, the tide will change for good.
Link to the rest at Live Write Thrive
Guest post by Bridget McKenna