After my coverage of the remarks by Profile Books’ Andrew Franklin, also picked up by others, I linked the original Guardian article to the KBoards Writer’s Cafe, the Kindle platform community’s author forum, inviting comment. Within a day, the thread attracted 134 responses. Here, as confirmed with the authors, are one or two of them.
“What passes for affirmation is comments from readers and the fact they’re buying our books,” remarked Smashwords author S.Wolf. “It may be true that the majority of self-published books are bad, but it’s the well-written minority that’s cutting into his profit margin.”
“Of course there is plenty of ‘unutterable rubbish’ out there. There are also lots of good, professional indie authors who take pride in what they do,” asserted Meg Harris. “Also, the fact that you can buy Facebook Likes doesn’t prove self-publishing is ‘corrupt’ – if indies are buying them, it’s highly likely that small press and traditional authors resort to the same sort of behavior as well.”
The KBoards Writer’s Cafe does not itself have a completely spotless reputation—see here, for instance. And of course as a community of writers on and for Kindle, it definitely is a chorus of the converted regarding self-publishing and e-books. Nonetheless, some of the participants did speak out on behalf of Franklin’s reservations, and agreed that the large volume of substandard self-published books did no good to the self-publishing community as a whole.
“I don’t see anyone in this thread foaming at the mouth trying to defend the quality of all self-published books,” S. Wolf continued. “As a matter of fact, most posters in this thread are agreeing that the majority of self-published books have problems.”
All the same: “All things considered, I’d think it’s worse to keep people from publishing rather than opening the gates and make it a free-for-all, because some AMAZING authors have emerged and some fantastic books have been written,” said Ashley Mackler-Paternostro.
Franklin is not the only figure to get virulent about self-publishing lately—look at John Green. But the number of yawns on the thread suggest that many are simply getting tired of the alarmism on both sides. Self-publishing is hardly about to slam into reverse gear, and a little more mature acceptance of its merits and shortcomings might be overdue—after all, it’s here to stay.
“In all, these articles always make me laugh,” added Mackler-Paternostro. “Generally it’s either how self-publishing is a losing sport and sucks … or how it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, when the true truth is, most of the time, it’s a middle-of-the-road kinda thing and hard work and lots of luck and good writing.”