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As reported in the UK Guardian, Profile Books' founding MD Andrew Franklin had this to say:

"The overwhelming majority [of self-published books] are terrible - unutterable rubbish ... They don't enhance anything in the world."

"now unmeasurable numbers" of books being self-published. "These books come out and are met with a deathly silence, so the principle experience of self-publishing is one of disappointment,"

"I was very shocked to learn you can buy Facebook friends and likes on social media. That is what passes for affirmation in what I think is the deeply corrupt world of self-publishing."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/11/self-published-ebooks-20-per-cent-genre

Anyone have any thoughts on this, and on Franklin himself?
 

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"I was very shocked to learn you can buy Facebook friends and likes on social media. That is what passes for affirmation in what I think is the deeply corrupt world of self-publishing."
No, what passes for affirmation is comments from readers and the fact they're buying our books.

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.
 

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The article overall was just statistics, with this bit from what seems to be some small press owner -- I'm too lazy to research the guy -- freaking out over something that's taking away his sales. Boo hoo.

Oh, you can buy likes, reviews, and anything else that puts your book up in the rankings? What's new about that? Snore.

Those who bought self-published ebooks were also more likely to be heavy readers, with the statistics from Bowker showing that 61% of buyers of self-published ebooks said they read daily, compared to 37% of buyers of books as a whole.
I liked this part. ;D Find a niche and fill it, self-publishing does. (Read that in a certain jedi-master's voice, umkay?)
 

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Paul StJohn Mackintosh said:
As reported in the UK Guardian, Profile Books' founding MD Andrew Franklin had this to say:

"The overwhelming majority [of self-published books] are terrible - unutterable rubbish ... They don't enhance anything in the world."

"now unmeasurable numbers" of books being self-published. "These books come out and are met with a deathly silence, so the principle experience of self-publishing is one of disappointment,"

"I was very shocked to learn you can buy Facebook friends and likes on social media. That is what passes for affirmation in what I think is the deeply corrupt world of self-publishing."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/11/self-published-ebooks-20-per-cent-genre

Anyone have any thoughts on this, and on Franklin himself?
Well, I don't care to comment on Franklin himself. That's personal. To me, that ought to be out of bounds.

As to his views, they seem self-contradictory and the same old clap-trap all these folks who are out to disparage indies are always saying. Nothing new here. Yawn.
 
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Paul StJohn Mackintosh said:
"The overwhelming majority [of self-published books] are terrible - unutterable rubbish ... They don't enhance anything in the world."
Is Franklin saying that he has read the majority of self published books? If the tallying the numbers of self published books are 'unmeasurable' by his analysis, I'd hardly think he has the credentials to offer blanket criticism of their contents.
 

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Most self-published books are terrible? Really?

This is not my experience at all. I have read a LOT of indie books and not a single one has been rubbish. Most are as good/better than traditionally published books. Have I just been lucky? Have you all come across 'terrible' indie books?

I'm confused that this myth seems to persist. I'd be interested to know just exactly how many indie books he's read. I bet its not that many.
 

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I really don't know why I follow these links. I'm ashamed of myself. :'(

So Franklin thinks self-publishing is about hitting a "jackpot" and that most self-publishers will be met with a "deathly silence." And yet the headline (based on statistics presented by someone else) says 20% of genre books sold in the UK are self-published. Are those all people who hit the "jackpot," or are some of them the sort of indie Hugh has pointed out-- people making a living, or enough to pay their bills, but not earning millions of dollars? If this guy thinks only a few people are selling all those books, does he have facts to back that idea up, or is he just tossing out thoughts with no support? Or was Franklin perhaps unaware of these figures until Steve Bohme tossed them out at this conference? Bohme's comments were about statistics, but the quotes from Franklin don't seem to be based on anything other than a visceral dislike of self-publishing (though admittedly we have no idea of the full contents of what he said).

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. And if it's a surprise to anyone that people on the internet sometimes cheat-- well, welcome to the 21st century. 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.
 

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self-publishing "deeply corrupt" -- to which I say, and traditional publishing isn't?
 

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RJ Locksley said:
I've met Andrew Franklin - his Profile Books is a respected independent publisher in the UK and he was invited to speak during my publishing degree. Not that that makes him an expert on self-publishing, but he does know trade publishing.
But he clearly hasn't read many indie novels.
 

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ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ  8)
 

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So let's see, price fixing, reprehensible contract terms, Author Solutions...and yet it's self-publishing that's deeply corrupt. I have no doubt indies are buying Facebook likes or whatever, but weren't there several trad-pubbed writers caught up in the sock puppet nonsense last year? These types of comments remind me of the scene in "Moneyball," where John Henry, owner of the Red Sox, is encouraging Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) to continue his non-traditional approach:

" I know you're taking it in the teeth, but the first guy through the wall... he always gets bloody... always. This is threatening not just a way of doing business... but in their minds, it's threatening the game. Really what it's threatening is their livelihood, their jobs. It's threatening the way they do things... and every time that happens, whether it's the government, a way of doing business, whatever, the people who are holding the reins - they have their hands on the switch - they go batsh*t crazy."

And Imma go ahead and throw in a jaw-breaking yawn as well. :)
 

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smallblondehippy said:
Most self-published books are terrible? Really?

This is not my experience at all. I have read a LOT of indie books and not a single one has been rubbish. Most are as good/better than traditionally published books. Have I just been lucky? Have you all come across 'terrible' indie books?

I'm confused that this myth seems to persist. I'd be interested to know just exactly how many indie books he's read. I bet its not that many.
Well, but, one would suppose that you do some due diligence before buying/downloading a book. I do rather suspect that if you chose a set of self-published books in a random, statistically valid way, more than half would not be worth your time. Can't prove that, 'cause I haven't done it, but there you go.

Before I learned to be more discriminating (I've been buying kindle books since 2008 and, realistically, I rarely bought self published work before that) I definitely ended up with a higher than expected number of real dogs. After a half dozen self pub works (which I basically learned about here) which were really Not Good, and another half dozen that were mediocre, I figured out that I had to be much more careful and not just get 'em because they were cheap or free. (Yes, I also found some great stuff, but early on that was much rarer.)

I would concede that the climate, here, at least, has changed since then, and I would guess at least a super majority of members here are publishing work that is well written and definitely good to excellent quality. And the more you buy good stuff on Amazon, the more you're recommended other good stuff. Also, I don't just browse randomly much on Amazon but generally go there with something in mind from some 'curated' type recommendation source. So most of what I see is at least decent, if not always to my taste.

But if you want to, it's not really hard to find books that are mind-bogglingly bad. And it is also probably true that the mind-bogglingly-bad ones are more likely to have been self published.

Which is NOT to say that all traditionally published work is superior.
 

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Please no daggers ... but, in many respects, he's correct.

I remember about two years ago (maybe longer) a man contacted me via my blog for a book review.  I wasn't even published at the time but he was looking to generate some honest buzz.  The book wasn't bad, the writing was tight but the subject just didn't keep me and I couldn't finish the book.  I still check on that novel now and then on Amazon and he still has zero reviews.  It makes me sad because the book was good, just not my genre.  But that's the cold truth of self-publishing.  We here have an advantage being members of a board that works specifically towards the betterment of business rather then crafty-threads.  Our peers read and review our books (mostly without being asked) ... we share tips on generating buzz and hum around our books ... we know the good sites to query and the good spots to spend our advertising dollars. Many self-published writers don't know the things we do and so their books sit quietly on a virtual shelf.  

So yeah, that guy is right.  There is some drivel that's published ... and there are books that languish on the shelf ... and there are authors who really, probably shouldn't be.  But all things considered, I'd think it's worse to keep people from publishing rather then opening the gates and make it a free for all because some AMAZING authors have emerged and some fantastic books have been written.  

In all, these articles always make me laugh.  Generally it's either how self-publishing is a losing sport and sucks and sucks 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.  

 

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Not having read the majority of self-pubbed books, I can't comment on how good they are. Anyone who says they're mostly bad is being intellectually dishonest unless they're read them all or at least looked through them. And everything he says could just as easily be applied to the trad pubbed books.

So, what was the point again? To tell the world we're making him nervous?

 

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Classic sound byte from a guardian of the old industry who doesn't like that he's being made redundant.

The reality is that there is more content out there than established editors like him can edit, and that there's a lot that sells that the established distributors don't know how to market (look at e.g. 50 Shades, or even Wool). I do agree that there is quite a lot of bad material out there, but guess what, the difference between a book that sells 3 copies to friends and family and one that sells 300 (or 3,000, or a million) in self-publishing is often a third (or fourth). In the traditional publishing model, that rewrite process is hidden from the market, but it's also expensive to keep editors on staff, particularly story editors that make structural / plot changes (as opposed to copy editors).

I don't understand throwing the baby out with the bathwater, especially not in an industry that is in many ways just coming to maturity. I think if you're willing to put in the time and effort to write 50k+ words and call it a novel, go ahead and see what the market thinks. Most authors will then either have the humility to accept negative reviews and improve their content (which is something I've done and continue to do), or figure out that self-publishing is not kinder or more lucrative than the traditional route, just cheaper to distribute.

As for the old guardians of the industry, well, their dismissive condescension doesn't change the fact that they're being made less and less relevant.
 

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Anyone who says they're mostly bad is being intellectually dishonest unless they're read them all or at least looked through them. And everything he says could just as easily be applied to the trad pubbed books.
I have no idea what percentage of self-published books are bad (there is no way of telling, as "bad" is a subjective term anyway). But I will say that the big difference is that when self-published books are bad, they can be really, really bad. I've read self-pubbed stuff in which the author does not know how to break dialogue into separate paragraphs, or the author cannot spell (presumably Amazon's spellchecker will help with this a bit), or the author writes like a fourth-grader (and again that's a subjective determination, but really, you know it when you see it). The reallyreallyreallybad stuff doesn't tend to make it in traditional publishing. But the reallyreallyreallybad indie stuff doesn't usually get purchased in large quantities either. It's just there, and no one pays a lot of attention to it unless they're on a mission to "prove" that self-published books suck.
 
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