I received a very nice review the other day. It was well written and complimentary, but the first sentence really caught me off guard.
"I tend to not expect much from the lower priced Kindle offerings, having been disappointed frequently."
I can't be certain what this woman paid for my book since I've been experiementing with different prices lately, but I know it was under 3 bucks. It got me wondering how many people are out there who don't consider cheap e-books because they assume they're no good.
I can't really blame them. If you've spent any time on Amazon browsing cheaper books you've probably seen some real doozies. Covers whipped up with MS Paint in ten minutes, poor formatting, typos, and bad grammar, are all too common with indie books. I've even come across several books written by folks who speak English as a second language. It's painfully obvious by reading the previews.
It's a shame, because as the number of these bad books grow, it hurts the rest of us indie authors who actual provide a good product. We're guilty by association through the eyes of some. Only because we charge a buck or two.
A big part of the problem is, there's no cover charge or dress code to enter the party. Anybody can publish e-books through any outlet free of charge. Unless there are some serious formatting issues or the content is way out there (pornographic, etc) Amazon and others will publish whatever you toss at them.
So what's the answer? I'm not sure...
Screen every book by actual people who will be the judge of whether it gets published or not? Well that's no good. In many cases, that's purely a matter of opinion and it's the very reason many of us get shunned by traditional publishing companies. Not to mention, it would slow the process down considerably. Instead of going live on Amazon in a day or two it could take weeks or months.
Charge a fee to publish? That could be of some use to weed out those who aren't completely serious and confident about their work. But charge what amount? Too low and the fee doesn't do any good besides fill Amazon's coffers. Charge too much and it might be a deal breaker for many authors. When I published my first book Desolate, I didn't have a spare dime to my name. Saving up to publish "some day" might have turned into never.
What about some standard as far as sales go? Let anybody and everybody publish, but why let that steaming pile of words clutter Amazon's already packed library if nobody is buying it?
Perhaps they should come up with a simple rule like this:
If your book hasn't had a sale in X amount of time, it gets deleted.
I'm not sure what the X would be. Six months maybe? If your book hasn't sold one copy in six months and sucks so bad your family and friends won't even buy it, then you deserve to have it pulled off Amazon. Either that or you really aren't serious about marketing and promoting you book. Either way, too bad. The sea of bad books just got one copy lighter.
I don't have the answer, but I do know one thing for sure. Just because a book is 99 cents doesn't mean it's no good. I've read plenty of "real" books that cost over ten or twenty dollars that are just horrible. Thank goodness for the library.
We've all heard: Don't judge a book by it's cover. I prefer: Don't judge a book by it's price.