All ebook self-publication discussions eventually include the phrase “If it isn’t from a major publisher, how do I know it is any good?” It’s like the ebook version of Godwin’s Law. The people who say this are adorable, and have clearly read fewer shitty books from the Big Six publishers than I have. How do you know self-published books are any good? The same way you know those Anne Rice, Piers Anthony, Dan Brown and V.C. Andrews (TM) books on the best-seller lists are good.
The literary world wants you to know two facts: 1) If you open an independent, non-chain and non-corporate bookstore you should be supported. 2) If you publish your own work as an independent, non-chain and non-corporate publisher the book is clearly bad and should not be supported. It’s so obvious. Hustling to sell other peoples books == good. Hustling to sell your own books == bad – but only when you are making most of the money. If you hustle to earn 15% of retail price, then it is back to good again. Authors hate money or else they wouldn’t be authors. Otherwise they’d spend that time doing something more lucrative like … anything.
I’ve spent years interview authors via radio, podcast and print trying to help sell their books. I love authors and I want them to make as much money as possible. For approaching two decades I’ve been hearing stories of publishers failing to fulfill contractual obligations, pulping unsold books rather than offering them to the writer, failing to deliver on promised promotion and marketing, paying slowly and sometimes never. Despite all these kicks in the teeth, authors sit down and write their novels again and again. Their resilience is admirable, their spirits indomitable. And after all that, they still would rather deal with the publisher/distributor/retailer supply chain taking 85% of the money and are contemptuous of making 70% of the money for themselves. I admire them and I weep for them at the same time. Stay strong, you tough minded and underpaid beautiful bastards.