Home > Book Writing, Publishing > The Philosophy of Indie Publishing – Quality

The Philosophy of Indie Publishing – Quality

Indie publishing is doing a great job at removing the gatekeepers, at least as far as selling on the Internet is concerned. Anyone can write a book and publish it themself. But what of quality? Some suggest that it is those very gatekeepers that prevent poor quality. Certainly in regards to editing this is the case. There is hardly a spelling or typo error found with a traditionally published book.

There is a slew of really crappy self published books out there, and more and more piling up daily. How are people to decipher the crap from the quality? Some are afraid that the quality will get lost in the mess. It is a serious concern for indie publishing. Probably one of the larger of the concerns – and for good reason.

But I would suggest there is a new quality control manager in town pilgrim, and that is the book reader; and the tools that allow people to weed out the crap are available on the Internet. People just have to use them.

If we were to display two books to you. Both books looked interesting to you. In fact we will say they are of equal interest.  You know these  facts:

  1. One is indie published, the other is traditionally published
  2. Both books were rated by an equal and large group of people
  3. The indie published book has better ratings than the traditionally published book
  4. The two books happen to be priced the same (even though most indie ebooks are much less in reality as a large staff does not need to get paid)

Now given that #3 was not true, that both books instead had the same ratings, you may opt for the traditionally published book simply because you trust that the editing was done and you cannot be sure for the indie book.

But given that #3 was true, would it really matter to you that one was indie published? So much that you would buy the other book with not as good ratings? Of course not! You know that if people really liked the indie book there is a good chance that you may like it as well, and if people did not like the other book as much, there is a good chance you may not. You know that just because a book is traditionally published, that does not automatically mean you will enjoy the book. Even if it was perfectly edited.

It is the same thing with one indie published books vs. other indie published books. As people take a chance and read a new book just published, they begin rating. The more ratings the more one can get a feeling in regards to whether they should waste their valuable time sending a sample chapter to their kindle or nook.

In other words, reviews, ratings, and word of mouth really does trump all. And social media makes all of these easy.

Take movies for another example of how things have changed. I don’t know about you, but I don’t even bother watching a movie anymore without checking it out on a site like IMBD.com. If there is a large number of raters and the ratings are below a 6.0, chances are I am not going to waste my time watching it, unless, for some reason, there is something interesting about it that makes me want to watch it regardless of the not-so-good rating. The rating is the first thing I look at.

It used to be (“back in myyy dayy …” – said in old man voice) that if it was a Steven Spielberg movie, then chances are it would be good.  Now-a-days, if a Spielberg movie has a 5.4 on IMDB with 30,000 raters, that name does not matter so much. I probably will not bother except as a last resort.

Even before social media, good movies were spread via word of mouth. One person telling others how great a movie was, and those people telling others. Today, with social media, one person can tell an unlimited number of people. This is the model of the future, for many creative endeavors.

When it comes to books, as with movies, other people’s opinions are important. Not one or a few people, but a large group of people. This is different from when traditionally published books were allowed to be read due to a small minority of so-called experts that told people what they could or could not read. It wasn’t their fault. Just the nature of the traditional publishing model, companies will only invest in what they think they can make a profit off of, regardless of how well a book is written. If they did not think the subject matter fit into a very specific demographic, that book never had a chance. Good books. Great books even.

Now every book can be indie published, and based entirely on the public, either sink, swim, or float along steadily.

Indie publishing opens up a whole universe of reading that did not exist in the past, and a whole new way to weed out the poor quality (even an entire sea of poor quality).

And in regards to ebooks – usually for a cheaper price. People can still buy from traditional publishers if they want to. Hell, just look for ebooks priced $9.99 or higher and avoid all others. Your chances are high you will get a traditionally published book. But when you look at some of those “less costly” ebooks with just as high or higher ratings on Amazon, you may think: “Hmmm – Is this more expensive book really better just because it is traditionally published?”

And yes, if you are one of the first to read a book before others have rated, you may eventually read a  crappy one (Even after you have read the first few chapters for free on Kindle  – which you should always do first, even with good rated books).  But even with traditional publishing you take a chance on new books that no one has yet recommended. And you probably spent much less on that indie ebook, which means you wont feel as guilty not finishing it.

The rating systems at Amazon and Barnes and Noble are a good start. If, however, you don’t find them sufficient – you can browse or join a site like Goodreads which allows users to create a virtual bookshelf and rate or review books. Sites like these can give a person a far better assessment of whether or not they should spend their time and money on a book.

Quality control has not been removed with indie publishing, it have been moved; and I would suggest moved to a better system where the actual reader can determine what they consider good or bad, and decide for themself what they are willing to invest their reading time into. Once readers begin to recognize how to minimize the gigantic pile of poor quality books using available tools, this system will be better for everyone. It will not matter how large the sea of books gets, the good ones can easily be pulled from the sea.

Until next time.  Oh, and if you have a Goodreads account, friend me: goodreads.com/TrickSlattery

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  1. March 8, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    Hmm it seems like your website ate my first comment (it
    was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any tips and hints for rookie blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

    • March 8, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      Hi Citazioni,

      Thanks for stopping by. I am a “rookie” blogger as well so don’t really have any good hints for you. 🙂

  2. Garden Bay Garden Supplies
    March 13, 2012 at 6:04 AM

    Unlike eBooks or white papers or other digital information products, designing, publishing and promoting printed books can be a “stuffy” and time-consuming process. Thanks to centuries of publishing practice and establish standards, printed books have a set, defined structure, which you’ll need to follow, if you want to be taken seriously as an author and a publisher.

    • March 13, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      Indeed. Print books (ie. using print on demand) have a much larger formatting learning curve than ebooks. I would suggest, however, that the learning curve is not nearly as long as the process to traditionally publish a book. The formatting can also be outsourced if (and should be if) one does not want to take the time to learn it.

      Obtaining an agent, writing query letters, the specific formatting needed to submit your entries, finding a publisher, negotiating a contract, and the extremely long time it takes from when your book is entirely written to when it is published makes traditional publishing, at the very least, not any less of a stuffy process. I have also seen some poorly structured traditional books with horrible covers; something the author has no say in.

      As for promotion, most traditional publishers now-a-days rely heavily on the author to self promote. They stress the importance of an online platform.

      And even though print books have a learning curve and I think both print books and ebooks should be created, I think ebooks really are the future that needs to be embraced. With the exception of certain ‘coffee table’ type books (and until color e-ink technology gets better highly illustrated books). 😉

      Take care,

  1. March 7, 2012 at 6:27 PM
  2. March 10, 2012 at 8:01 PM

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