Ok folks, it’s time for a bit of a whinge.
I want to prepare the reader for what I am about to say by stating that the following is not true of every other “author” but certainly true enough to warrant comment. Having got that out of the way, shall we proceed?
It has taken me a long time to be prepared to call myself an author. And by author I clearly mean a writer who has enough of a track record to be worthy of the title and not someone who, by virtue of the fact they have produced a book, calls themselves an author.
I now have 18 self published titles ranging from children’s picture books to YA Novels. With 88 reviews under my belt on Amazon alone, it is safe to say I can now say I am a published author. Add to this my contributions to the writing community, as well as over a thousand poems (published and unpublished), together with the fact that if you do a Google search of my name I feature several times on the first page.
I’m not telling you all this just to boast or present myself as something I’m not. If I was, I would have titled this post, “I Am A Bloody Awesome Author” or something like that. No, I am telling you this because there is a very serious problem with self publishing at present and it has to do with so-called authors who write so-called books, with so-called book covers and label themselves authors simply because they were able to string together a few sentences in such a way as it might actually be considered legible English in a third world country; whose first language is not English. If you get my meaning.
The problem with this is that whilst anyone is entitled to explore their net-given right to write a book, not everyone should be, just like not everyone who splashes paint on a canvas is an artist or anyone who can run a few feet can compete in the Olympics.
There are no qualifications to be a writer. All you need is to be able to convey some meaning with simple language. Hell, if dogs could write even they can recognize up to 200 words. This might be sufficient to communicate at a basic level, but it hardly means one can write, much less be considered an author. So what does this all have to do with me? Why is it any of my business? Well, it’s simple. They are stealing opportunities from actual authors by flooding the market with nonsense.
This would be ok if it were just hundreds, or even thousands of such “authors”. But there are millions of them. Not only have they written books, but in some cases dozens of books. Even if there were only one million of these self-declared published authors, if each of them produced a dozen books, that’s twelve million books which are taking up valuable space on an already over-stocked international online library of mainly worthless works. How in hell is anyone supposed to sift through it all and navigate to those few self published titles of merit?
Now, far be it for me to tell anyone they shouldn’t chase their dream and publish. But if you are going to do it, then please at least listen to the advice of those more experienced and seasoned and make some kind of effort to in the very least produce a cover that does not look like a collage of unconnected images put together by a kindergarten class. At least try to edit your book so that it makes reasonable sense. At least attempt to produce something vaguely interesting or unique. I, like many other of my author friends, don’t expect or even demand it be perfect (after all my books aren’t). But what we would like to see is a more serious effort at writing and a far greater commitment to “publishable material” rather than a half baked, half-arsed contrivance.
There is a tsunami of books coming, but rather than see what the next wave brings, people have given up and are running for the hills in fear of being completely overwhelmed by the flood. It used to be that people were into indie books, whether out of curiosity, or because it was hip to read indie or else they wanted to show off their ever expanding electronic library to their friends. But ‘now days, they simply don’t care anymore. Like any flood this tsunami of pseudo-literature will come, it will overwhelm and then it will subside and retreat into the vast ocean of forgotten works. When it does, those rare shells and collectibles will be exposed on the shore and the survivors will pick through them and actually read the odd very good book.
If you have written a book, good for you. But I won’t be giving you my blessing until you have proven through stubborn, persistent ambition and via accolades from those who aren’t your friends, that your work has merit and is worth all the fuss. But for those of you who think they have published by virtue of the fact you produced a “book”, stop listening to your mother, who will always tell you how awesome your writing is. Instead challenge perfect strangers to give you honest feedback (I have and sometimes it hurts). Only then will you grow and learn and improve and in two or five years time, if you have survived all this and come out the other end with literature of some considerable worth, I, along with others like me, will heap praise upon your soul.
Paul G Day.