There is a riding wave of enthusiasm and excitement among indie authors that finally, after centuries of struggle, we can now put our books out there on the virtual bookshelf for the world to see and for all eternity. What an incredible concept that a hundred years from now someone might happen upon one of my books and my characters would rise from the ashes of time and thrill a new reader. Or is it?
What is the likelihood that a future individual will happen upon one of my books? If you do the actual mathematics, it doesn’t seem likely.
Ebooks have only been around for a few years and their rise in popularity is growing at exceptional and exponential levels. When I first started publishing in the virtual world, getting my books noticed was as easy as posting descriptions on social networks and threads. If you were lucky enough to afford a promotion on a popular reader’s website, you could draw dozens if not hundreds of new sales. Ereaders were a novelty that the next generation had to have and ebooks were golden jewels.
Well, the reading population bought both books and devices, and they bought them by the millions. You would think that is a good thing for indie writers like me, having a new audience who have a lifetime to discover my works?
With the new wave of ereaders also comes a new wave of writers. Writers who have discovered how easy it is to publish a book and try to sell their work. Many of these indie books are coming onto the market too soon. In a rush to get published, many writers are neglecting the basics of grammar, and characterization, and the importance of details in the setting. These quickly written books are coming on the market raw and unreadable, and flooding it in the process. Many novice writers are spamming the once mighty reader’s websites giving the legitimate indie authors little exposure and the art form a tarnished reputation.
It is true that the virtual bookshelf will exist as long as humanity and the internet do, however, being discovered on that bookshelf is soon going to be like trying to find a specific grain of sand placed somewhere on the largest beach on Earth. What can possibly set apart the great writers from the wannabe’s: Marketing? Promoting? An incredible tale?
I believe the only saving grace for the gifted writer will be word-of-mouth. Only if you write a great story will absolute strangers tell other absolute strangers about it. Like all things great, it will rise above the garbage and shine like a diamond. And there will be a lot of garbage out there, I predict billions of books.
As I continue to see mediocre books flooding the market (many free or at a price insulting to the art form) I can only wonder how long it will be before I, too, drown in this oncoming sea of mediocrity. Writers whose works are truly gifted are getting lost in a flood of new titles. A virtual bookstore where anyone can sell your work is truly a Godsend to the true storyteller, however, with virtual unlimited shelf space there may soon be more books than readers who care to read them.