Welcome to Talkback!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Tagged

Gatekeepers in publishing
  • I'm on a panel at next week's Weston litfest discussing Why DIY? It's on indie v trade publishing. One of the things we will be discussing is: Now that anyone can self-publish quickly and cheaply are there still gatekeepers?

    Obviously agents and publishers exercise a level of quality control but how do you distinguish the best self-published books? Blogs, reviews, word of mouth? Any thoughts?
  • Yes. I have no idea.

    A chap who was extremely good at selling cam into Waterstones a few years ago and sold his book from a table. I read the first page and it was like a catalogue of writing errors - all tell not show, grammar errors, spelling errors... but he was good at selling and despite my frantic signals to OH he bought the book. He had spent a lot on the cover which was fab. He had 10,000 printed. I felt so sorry for him. Waerstone's had it on their shelves and I complained - I said that if you go into Waterstones you expect a certain standard from the books on the shelves and if they were going to sell self-published of such a poor quality they should be clearly labelled as such and not mixed in with the other books.

    Now I only buy books by people I know. I can trust you lot.

    I think there should be a gatekeeper for indie books which picks good quality and could give some sort of guarantee.
  • I'm surprised he could afford to have 10,000 printed.

    The Alliance of Indie Authors tries to promote a positive image for indies. Some authors are ripped off and believe they are producing a quality book because, well, someone's told them it is.

    https://selfpublishingadvice.org/allis-self-publishing-service-directory/self-publishing-service-reviews/?affid=2339

    Someone in another group said she wasn't paying to have her book proofread because she's a former teacher and another 'former teacher' has read it and only found one error. The free sample is stuffed full of errors. She's on top of her marketing and doing very, very well. It's a rubbish product. It's in shops. It has a good cover - it's the covers that fool people.

    Unfortunately it's not just indie books. Traditionally published books are also lacking in quality control.

    Is there a way to ensure only good quality books are published? No. Honest reviews on Amazon would help but you can't force people to leave a review.

  • I hate the fact that there is so much self-published stuff on Amazon with no quality control. Good books are tiny ripples in a very large debris-filled ocean.
  • Thanks, Baggy. Lots to think about there.

    I don't know what can be done about it, TN. Reviews are only helpful if the reviewer is honest and you share their taste.
  • It's worth noting that some authors choose to go indie. I have clients that have been traditionally published and have opted to go it alone to retain complete control - of the cover, the plot, the publication date, etc. Indie doesn't have to mean poor.
  • Yes, that is certainly true.

    I have not found a children's book that is badly produced in for instance Waterstones. I have noticed the odd error in some books by high profile authors. But not huge ones.

    Nothing like the vast and energy sapping indie products I have scanned here and there.

    Absolutely the covers fool people!

    He had also given up his day job, Baggy.

    And I also know children's authors who have gone indie as they get a better return - once they have a following, it's easier to sell your book, plus of course children's authors sell in schools.
  • The issue I see is that the gatekeepers aren't always good at the job some of the time when you see how many books end up remaindered, sold off cheap, or pulped, because they didn't sell as well as expected.

    They're chasing their own books that fit the latest trend.

    Self-publishing is hard work, and have costs involved to produce a good product, but you can get the right cover rather than the cover style that is the publishers/marketing favourite designers produce/it's the latest cover style/colour for the trend- like the black covers for FSOG- they started using it on any erotica book coming out.

    But such is life...





  • There is no need of remainder shoes though - authors are always complaining that they should be offered the remainder of their stock if the publisher doesn't want it to sell them selves. And they could sell it. It gets remaindered not because it doesn't sell necessarily but because books have such a short shelf life and not only that due to the vast numbers printed, more than any book shop could hold, many just don't get bought either at all or in enough quantities by the book shops.
  • Are you sure it wasn't 1,000, Liz? I remember you telling me about him when we met in Bridport. 10,000 wouldn't fit into his home.

    Even a budget book would cost £3 to produce – plus the set-up fees.
  • It would be wonderful if there was some sort of quality control, but it would only be possible if there was some sort of 'body' that self-publishers could submit their book to then have an endorsement.
    I also think that writers constantly forget that the general public don't see any difference between self-publishing and vanity. I've said this before. My OH is a good example of a member of Joe Public who sneers at self-published books and won't countenance reading any. He won't even read the anthologies I've been published in because he thinks they must be crap, vanity books if they're not worthy of 'real' publishers.
    Sorry - but that's how it is. I've bought and read quite a few tber's books and some have been good, but some have not. I don't tend to advertise the fact when I buy a tber's book because if I don't rate it I don't have to say anything. I made the mistake some years ago of leaving an honest review of a member's book and that person blanked me thereafter. (Not a current member I hasten to add.)
  • I agree, Claudia. I'm not sure if indie authors will ever shake-off that vanity tag. It's a shame for the good ones, the ones that really do deserve to be read. That's another reason I get angry when bad books become a success because of the cover and the author's marketing skills – and not because of the writing.
  • Are you sure it wasn't 1,000, Liz? I remember you telling me about him when we met in Bridport. 10,000 wouldn't fit into his home.

    Even a budget book would cost £3 to produce – plus the set-up fees.



    He quit his job, well, took redundancy I think it was, or possibly he was made to retire (he dreamed the books while ill) and spent it all on the printing. He was sure he was going to be the next big thing. I'm pretty sure it was 10,000 because they filled his garage. It was a vast and incomprehensible number, anyway. Unsellable by even a publisher unless he was J K Rowling. (I buy my books by the hundred and they come in pretty small boxes, really.)

  • Well, there is clearly a 'hole in the market' for an enterprising person with DISCERNMENT and the ability to properly look at editing as well as production to start a business which accredits self-pubs. But it would have to be an ex-industry publisher or someone like that to give it any gravitas at all. They'd be snowed under, so it would have to have some limits like the book would have had to have been professionally edited by someone like Baggy before being set. And conform to industry guidelines such as length for genre etc.
  • ...which is very much like the submission process to agents/publishers involving long waits, but possibly more favourable outcomes!
  • Well, that ain't gonna happen.
  • It does seem that for self published authors, skill in marketing is far more important than the ability to write well.
  • Liz said:

    Well, there is clearly a 'hole in the market' for an enterprising person with DISCERNMENT and the ability to properly look at editing as well as production to start a business which accredits self-pubs. But it would have to be an ex-industry publisher or someone like that to give it any gravitas at all. They'd be snowed under, so it would have to have some limits like the book would have had to have been professionally edited by someone like Baggy before being set. And conform to industry guidelines such as length for genre etc.



    From the link that Baggy gave me it seems like Awesome Indies are attempting to fulfil that role. It costs $80 just to submit your book though, so you've got to be pretty confident that it's good enough and convinced that their endorsement is worth the outlay.

  • The authors on there (that I know) use structural editors, beta readers, copy-editors and proofreaders. They're committed to producing quality books and the badge is almost irrelevant. I know one of the books, by a client, has won awards.

    Submitting a book to gain a badge isn't the same as a gatekeeper.
  • But a buyer would, by seeing the badge, know that they are buying a product of certain quality. How do they know if something has been through all those processes by looking at it on a Kindle?
  • But how many books are on that site compared to how many are available on Amazon?

    Also, what incentive is there to submit a book? I've just gone to another forum and the consensus of opinion is that it doesn't help with sales. However, it adds a nice sentence or two to promotional text. That's from authors on the site.
  • Also, it's not always obvious on Amazon if a book is self-published. if an author uses their own ISBN and 'creates' an imprint Joe Public won't know.
  • I doubt most people know even if the Amazon ISBN is used.

    The problem (IMO) isn't that potential readers think 'oh it looks like it might be self published and therefore rubbish' but that potential readers don't even know the book exists.
  • You're right. None of my non-writing friends would have a clue.
  • True. Does that forever limit a self-published book? If you are looking on Kindle for a book on a particular subject, do self-pubs come up?

  • Yes, they come up.

    Indie authors are more likely to attend local events – fairs etc. and sell locally. Also, giving talks to local groups will help with sales. The WI circuit (if an author passes their interview) is also a good seam to mine.
  • I wish you were my PA, Baggy.
    I have a spare room and my home is JC friendly.
  • A client put in her book that she wanted me to move in but I'd refused. However, she didn't offer JCs…
  • Just browsing a few websites and came across a fairly local author who is offering a 'how to' self-publish class. His books are listed on his site with Amazon badges. There are no links to Amazon.

    So, I went to Amazon and found them. I looked at one. All of the content – ALL! – is centred. Also, the font size changes for no obvious reason.
  • I can't understand why you would want to show such shoddy workmanship. Some people just want to see their work 'out there', no matter what the standard.
  • I'm more concerned that he's running a workshop on the subject. And charging for the service.
  • LizLiz
    Stuff like this needs calling out and regulating.
  • Oh dear, the Dorset class of 2018 can be distinguished by its centred text.
  • Apparently it's a known issue with Scrivener. I hate manuscripts that have been created in Scrivener because it messes up the basics.
  • When you say 'centred', do you mean everything is in the middle with ragged edges, or that it's justified both sides with even edges?
  • Centred in the middle with ragged edges.
  • Yes, but it isn't intentional. I suspect it's a problem with his settings when he converted it to the e-file. I don't know why it's okay in the free excerpt and not in the 'look inside' option.
  • What Heather said.