According to Michael Kozlowski, Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader, the leading news website devoted to digital publishing, e-books, and e-reader news I'm a bad writer.
How does he come to that conclusion? In his own words, "You are only considered a real author if you can make your living solely from the book sales. If you can’t, you are merely a writer... the industry needs to define the good writers from the bad. The primary way we can do this is by sales figures; if authors make their living from publishing, they are often considered good writers. Once we can define a good writer from a bad, we can start to segregate them."
Which brings us to another of his suggestions, segregating self-published books according to sales.
"My suggestion is for all major online bookstores that take submitted indie content to create their own sections for self-published writers. These titles should not be listed side by side with the traditional press. Indie titles should have their own dedicated sections until such time as they reach a certain threshold in sales. Once they can attain an arbitrary sales milestone, they are drafted to the big leagues and listed in the main bookstore."
Why, you ask, does Kozlowski think this is necessary?
"There are a copious number of online self-publishing companies that promise aspiring authors the opportunity to distribute their e-book all over the world. Millions of authors publish with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Draft2Digital, Kobo Writing Life, Nook Press and Smashwords. Most “authors” who self-publish an e-book never sell more than a handful and over seventy-five percent of all authors never earn a living through their writing."
And the result of this plethora of self-published dreck (my word) is that "We live in a world full of terrible e-book titles that ruin e-book discovery and make it difficult to find a good book. It is no small wonder why e-book sales have plummeted in recent years."
The comments on Kozlowski's blog https://goodereader.com/blog/author/michael-kozlowski on this topic are mostly specious in that they don't respond to the problem he's addressing. They range from outright denial to dismissing his ideas because there's a typo in his text.
As one who actually reads and reviews the work of unknown, randomly selected indie authors I'd have to agree with his assessment and his solution.
When I decided to write fiction about ten years ago I had about forty years of journalism as a formative base. But even though I'd written hundreds of thousands of words up to that point it, fiction was a different style of writing. To learn how to write fiction I attended writer's groups, joined online critique sites and read dozens of books and I continue to do so.
Writing fiction is a craft and it can be learned and mastered, to some degree, by learning the fundamentals and then practicing - a lot. It's evident that the vast majority of the indie authors I've read haven't even bothered to learn the basics and have spent no where near enough time practicing.
As Kozlowski says "Indie titles have no quality and control, often they are merely submitting a Word document to Amazon and clicking publish."
Kozlowski's not suggesting all self-published books are crap and all traditionally published books are classics, just that "there is some expectation of quality" in reading a traditionally published book", and that's definitely not the case with reading a self-published work.
From the beginning of my venture into writing and publishing fiction it became apparent to me the only way to measure success was with book sales. This is an industry of illusion and delusion and the majority those involved are, as Kozlowski suggested, subject to the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
“Unskilled individuals that suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude.”
I have come to accept that I am "inept" until my book sales prove otherwise.
Accordingly, I'm prepared to have all my books segregated in "dedicated sections until such time as they reach a certain threshold in sales. Once they can attain an arbitrary sales milestone, they are drafted to the big leagues and listed in the main bookstore."
I'm sure there will be very good books that never attain that threshold (mine?) and I'm just as sure there will be those who, rather than hone their craft to the point they can write a good book, will find ways of attaining that threshold fraudulently.
However, this is a solution I am prepared to considered in hopes "the cream might rise to the top".
If Kozlowski's is right that by 2020, fifty percent of all digital books will be written by indie authors and that will account for 25,000 new titles a month being submitted to online bookstores than something, indeed, has to be done.
- And just how many books would you need to sell to meet the threshold and advance to "the majors"?
Amazon has author and sales ranking graphs that are updated hourly. On Sept. 5, 2017, someone purchased one (1) e-book edition of my novel Saving Spirit Bear. That single sale boosted the novel's ranking from 8,787,432 to 201,692 an increase of 8,585,740 points. My author ranking subsequently increased 582,673 points from 825,278 to 242,605.
What do these numbers mean? I'd say a few sales a month and an indie author would be among the top 100,000 selling authors on Amazon. Would that get you into "the majors"?
Who cares, you'd still be making peanuts.
Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.
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