Thursday, 25 February 2010

An End To Those Pesky Rejection Letters?

Amazon has produced a Digital Text Platform to allow anyone, and I mean anyone, to upload and sell their written work to the public as a downloadable e-book for Kindle. The author receives 35% of the the price as a royalty, and can check on how your book is selling on their website. You don't need an ISBN, but any copyrights have to be purchased by the author.

A great opportunity for writers? Or a carte blanche for anyone who has a laptop to churn out a novel and offer it to the public? As my writing buddy who sent this to me says, how will anyone be able to tell the sharks from the bottom feeders if anyone can get any book published? Good question.

One of the major complaints of all writers is that the publishing industry have too tight a hold on the type of novels they will accept. They stick to well tried formulas and are resistent to new formats. But is opening the market to ANY novel the answer?

Amazon policy is that the best literature will rise to the top naturally by a process of elimination by customer review. But what about us hard working authors who have spent years learning the craft of how to write a commercial novel and who still get rejected by the mainstream publishers?

We all feel that either our work isn't up to standard, in which case we rework and study harder to get it right next time, or we are good enough but somehow our stories don't fit what the current market demands. All reasons for multiple rejections. If and when we are accepted it will be on merit, and due to a startling piece of work honed and polished after several incarnations and a determined agent who believes in us.

Not because we jotted something down and uploaded it to Amazon without anyone telling us what PoV and passive voice is?

I feel readers expect a certain standard from modern publishers and trust their judgement about what they produce, so when they go to a bookshop, they are confident they are buying something that has been edited, corrected, even manipulated a little to make it saleable. Is leaving the selection process entirely to the reader a good idea?

Then again, we have all bought books where the publisher has thrown money at a large publicity machine to convince us a book is a major work, when the final product proved disappointing. What do others think? And which hyped up books left you cold?


KarenG said...

First just let me say that I adore Amazon as a business model geared for success, and as a vehicle for writers to get their work out there. Even before the Kindle, they provided opportunities for self-published writers and small presses to have a forum that didn't exist before. I know many booksellers blame Amazon for putting them out of business, but it's a competitive world we live in and if you don't meet the needs of the public, your business will fail, whether it's publishing, writing or whatever. That said (sorry for the lengthy comment) I think the same thing will apply to the ebooks. If you write something good, and can't find an agent or publisher, but you find eager readers on Kindle, then more power to you. The kind of word of mouth buzz that sells paper books will also work for ebooks.

Deborah Swift said...

I found this an interesting post so have linked to it on my blog - hope you don't mind.
Personally I have found the editing process hugely rewarding and dread to think of unedited texts being uploaded, with their typos, irritating repetitions and clumsy layout.

Also an editor can point out to the writer inconsistencies, confusions, or worries for the reader that the writer may not have considered, allowing the writer a chance to reflect and improve on it if necessary.

Having said that, raw talent will out, but most readers would prefer the raw talent to be professionally presented and free from anything that would hamper their reading enjoyment.

As for hyped-up books - I guess any new books with the words Davinci or Code in their title would qualify.

Anita Davison said...

Thank you Karen and Deborah for your insightful comments, and Deborah I am thrilled to have you mention my post on your blog.

Kristina said...

This is a sticky topic. I do believe the real deal will rise to the top, and that readers aren't dummies. They can tell what's good. That said, editing is so important, and I would hope anyone uploading a novel would have some sort of strict editing process, whether it be through a writing group and a perfectionist eye or with a professional editor. What I found browsing through a self-publishing site was one can really tell by just the description of the book if the author can write at all well. Many of the books presented that I scanned through sounded amateurish, so of course I passed those by.

I also think self-publishing is a great way to get out there, and a possible back door into "real" publishing, since it enables the author to present their piece in a different way than the tens of thousands of raw manuscripts floating around out there. It gives the agent/publishing house a vision for the product before they even put their hand to the till.

Lastly, marketing is so often done by the author after being published anyway, so what's the big deal if the author is proactive with marketing from the beginning?

Lee Ee Leen said...

hyped up books that left me cold:

'A Million Little Pieces' James Frey

'The Da Vinci Code'

Anita Davison said...

Lee Ee Leen - I think the second one is on everyone's 'What a disappointment' list