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The Self-Published Fire Hose of Sewage

A little late to this party, but Chuck makes excellent points. If there is anything that is going to sink the new ebook self-publishing revolution, it is the astonishing volume and poor quality of most self-published books. There is already a reader backlash, and it’s only going to get worse.

The problem isn’t that there are no good self-published book. The problem is that there are so very, very many bad ones that it’s hard for readers to find the good ones, and after they’ve been burned a few times they’re less likely to trust any book that doesn’t come from one of the major houses.

I’m not sure what’s to be done about that. I think there has to be (and eventually will be), some mechanism for guiding readers past the shit, but I’m not sure what it would be. My own vague thought would be some sort of standards committee or clearinghouse. This organization (possibly volunteer) would basically just say, “This book meets certain minimum standards of literacy and production values.” That’s it; nothing about the story being enjoyable, no editing services, just, “It doesn’t make me want to gouge out my eyes with a pen, you can use our logo.”

Not perfect, but it would give readers at least some sort of lifeline to cling to when they venture into those murky self-published waters.