The Nameless Horror

The Observer On Self-Publishing

From Anna Baddeley’s piece:

I find it very unlikely that someone looking for their next read would think: I want something by a self-published author. It would be like logging on to iTunes to buy some music and selecting, instead of rock/pop, a category called “songs recorded in people’s bedrooms”.

OK, so it’s only a micro-column, tied to Apple’s addition of 'Breakout Books' to the iBookstore. (Not, as Engadget reports, just its US incarnation.)

But that… doesn’t she know how bands go from unsigned to signed? That people actively seek them out in preference to something else? That, yes, people do buy the music of such musicians out of preference, if it’s good enough.

Or:

"Discover emerging authors at great prices" promises an email from the iBookstore. "Browse some of our favourite titles from rising stars in this hand-picked collection of independently published books." Except "hand-picked" turns out to mean books with high customer ratings and high sales. The usual selection of soft porn and mediocre crime.

I’m looking at that section of the store in iTunes at the moment. It runs in rows of categories (the same as other chunks of iTunes): What’s Hot, Fiction & Literature (a sort of general fiction category more or less the same as what you’d find in a bricks ‘n mortar store), Romance, Crime & Thrillers, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, and lastly a self-help section for writing called “Become An Author”.

In short, while I don’t doubt they’re mostly flagged by review and sales rank, this is hardly just a hodgepodge of 50 Shades knock-offs and serial killers.

Front spot on the ‘What’s Hot’ line is taken by Autumn Dawn’s The Charmer, which is SF/F (albeit of the were-creature paranormal romance variety). Other SF/F titles - J R Rain’s Moon Island, Chanda Hahn’s YA wolf fantasy The Steele Wolf - also appear on the 13-strong list with the crime and romance titles. The SF category also features Jeff Noon’s Needle In The Groove, which is hardly likely to be mediocre (and, worth noting, has no ratings as yet at all so presumably has been plucked from the lists by some other process), and a fair number of the offerings look properly done (to judge a book by its cover).

So yes, there might be a bunch of toss there (so much self-pubbed stuff is, sadly) for all I know, but while I know she generally hates self-published books, Baddeley’s dismissal of it out-of-hand (and a description hinting at only cursory research) is equally shoddy.