So because of my post last week, I received a lot of spirited defenses of self/indy publishing, many of which struck me as missing the central point I was making: that agents and editors dig through a lot of crap to find the things they publish. Several people argued that “people aren’t waiting for publishers to tell them what to read, they’re listening to reviews and recommendations from friends.” What this fails to recognize is that traditional publication is, in essence, a powerful form of recommendation: someone said, “I think this book is so worth reading, I’m financially backing it.”
So powerful that many reviewers and sellers take notice. It is on that recommendation that most reviewers will accept the book to read. (Most will not review self/indy books.) It is on that recommendation that the sellers– bookstores– agree to stock it. (Many will not stock self/indy books.) And the individual people who work there will give their personal opinions to the customers.
So don’t tell me that no one is listening to publishers for recommendation, because that is literally what the traditional model is.
The other argument I heard boiled down to, “Thanks to indy/self publishing, so many amazing books that wouldn’t have seen the light of day are now available. Readers can decide for themselves.”
This may well be true.
I’m game. I’d like to know what some of these amazing books are. So, I’d like to hear some recommendations.
But wait! I’ve got some rules.
1. You can’t recommend your own book. The main reason for this is I think recommending your own book undermines the point of “so many amazing books are now available”. If you just tell me about your own book, what you’re telling me is that you don’t really care about all those amazing books, other than in the abstract sense of how promoting the idea helps your own book. You’re not telling me how indy/self helps readers “decide for themselves”, you’re telling me how indy/self helps writers sell their books. If the system really is for the benefit for the readers, I want to know how it benefited you as a reader.
2. No recommendations that started indy/self and then were picked up by a traditional publisher. Because they’ve already received that recommendation bump. I can find them in the traditional market, even if their path there wasn’t entirely traditional. Recommend something that I can’t find on the traditional market.
So let’s hear some recommendations! Put my money where your mouth is.