Wanna be an author? Well lucky you! In this day and age all you have to do is throw a bunch of clichés together, mix in a few proverbs for good measure and lo and behold you have a novel! And then you have a choice – to e-publish it for free or, even better, go to a vanity press where they’ll gladly slap your drivel between the covers of a paperback and charge you thousands of dollars for your masterpiece!
A friend of a friend did just that. According to her author page on Amazon, she had never enjoyed reading for pleasure until one day she borrowed (not bought) two romance novels, read them, decided telling a story wasn’t rocket science and wrote a book of her own. Her work of art is available for the low low cost of $8.04 for the e-book or $23.49 for the paperback. Surprisingly, it hasn’t sold much.
While fools and their money are indeed easily separated, I find it scary to know that there are even more determined writers publishing their crappy wares for free. How does one sift through the chaff? How many first chapters must one read before finding something worth paying $2.99 for?
I remember spending hours scanning the shelves at the book store as a teenager, looking for a cover or a title that sparked my interest. I could leave the store with my purchase reasonably sure there was something of quality in that molded plastic bag with the store’s logo printed on it. Now even the fact that a book has a publisher isn’t a guarantee that it might be worth buying, unless it’s from one of the big five.
Is there a trick to finding quality in published works that I’m not seeing? Or is it really like searching a needle-stack for a piece of hay?