Sunday 1 April 2012

Amateur books…

A work colleague was reading an ebook in the office recently, which is such a rarity in my corporate world, that I felt compelled to strike up a conversation with him about it. The usual "what are you reading" questions escaped my lips and I was thrown slightly by the bored and angry answer: “some awful amateur book. Never again.”

So ok let’s accept that all books, like other art forms, are ultimately a matter of opinion and no book is going to be liked by everybody. But it was the phrase ‘amateur book’ that stood out for me. I asked what he meant by amateur book and the response was that when he bought the e-reader, he purchased several new books that had been self-published by the authors in eBook format and found them less than impressive. This was what he was referring to as an amateur book.

It got me thinking that there is so much self-publishing happening by authors today that the entire industry is changing forever. And the bottom line is that it is so easy to publish. Look, I’m doing it right now by posting this blog. It does make me wonder whether in a decade the faces of literary, genre and bestselling fiction will be skewed by the availability and influx of this so-named ‘amateur’ work. Definitely something to consider, she says, continuing work on her debut novel.

Elloise Hopkins.

1 comment:

  1. I think whether amateur work skews sales will really depend on the "professional attitude" of the amateur. A typical pro-book at the moment will go through plenty of iterations. It'll be self-edited, alpha read, beta read and pro-edited, at least, before it goes into publication. Typically all but the final stage can be done using writing groups and the like at the behest of the author themselves. In fact there are a number of independent editors and proof-readers out there who can do the final one for a consideration, although they'll be less specific to your genre than a publishing house editor. Take a look at Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker Portal on his website and it gives you an idea of the process, he did over 6 versions of the manuscript. Without this level of commitment to the project an amateur is unlikely to rock the boat much. Larry Correia did it very sucessfully with his first novel, which sold so well that it, and the subsequent books, have all been picked up by Baen.
    I think word of mouth will prevent too many awful amateur books selling much. What is left will be the committed and the talented, probably the ones who could make it as old-school, dead tree authors anyway. Why would they not be picked up? Because they're writing very niche stuff which publishing houses may shy away from. And so they're likely to have limited sway on sales anyway. But you never really know. Who'd have thought a decade ago that Waterstones would have a "Dark Romance" section? *shudders*
    My two pen'orth there :)