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Michelle's corner

Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)

Kozlowski's post

When I read Rod Raglin's post  about Michael Kozlowski's post about living in a world of Terrrible Self Published Authors, I had to read for myself.


The whole author renumeration thing, I blogged about myself some time ago - "The Amazon Effect" where Nick Higham interviewed Mal Peet - http://msknight.com/loas/?p=1282


If you want to read all those articles and blog posts, feel free, but I'm going to restrict myself to Kozlowski's post, which generated 133 comments in itself. Not that I'm going to read all of those, but one comment from Bob Mayer did catch my eye...

"Since you're using a quote from me, I guess I need to weigh in. I haven't read the other comments because I'm sure they are full of outrage from indie authors. I agree with most of what you say except for a couple of assumptions you make without clear linkage. I think you have it backward in saying that indie authors are causing the decline of the eBook market. Successful indie authors are causing the decline of reported eBook sales. No one records my sales, other than Amazon, and I don't think they're releasing their data. The same is true for many indie and hybrid authors. I've been hearing "plateauing" and "declining" for years. Perhaps. But causality is questionable. I would say the chief executive of the Publishers Association has a dog in this hunt, so that can be taken the same as any comments from indie authors can be taken.

There is no doubt there is a flood of dreck and you can't tell anyone what they're written is dreck. I've seen it in three decades of working with writers. I also don't think the plethora of self-pub works is clogging up the system or hurting search engines-- those are driven by sales and coop money.

Ultimately none of this matters. To each their own and you seem to enjoy poking your nose into this hornet's nest. It really doesn't change anything."

In among all that Kozlowski put forward in his post, the one thing he (and others) failed to do, is offer any solutions to the situation.

He correctly identified that local book stores don't contain Indie authors. It would be stunning if they did, particularly authors from their own local areas. I was actually chatting with Waterstones, who did at one point, have a program that saw authors books be stocked in their local branches. However, in my case that came to nothing. Exactly why, however, I never got to the bottom of, but it looked like the whole program fell off the edge of a cliff.

The gatekeepers of the blogsphere are, themselves, not immune to the ego trips that Kozlowski aimed at indie authors and competitors of American Idol. Some of them are tied in to deals with Amazon and advertisers who run banner adverts on their blogspot blogs. I won't detail my own experiences, but suffice to say that I don't trust my reading recommendations to bloggers that gain an income from advertising, as they have a vested interest in picking works that are likely to drive the maximum traffic to their site. (that's why I spend my little precious time on BookLikes instead of Goodreads.) The big name works gain ever more coverage, while the needles in the Indie haystack stay there, because nobody's searching for them.

We need a reviewing site that is completely independent. Revenue generation to keep the lights on, should stay at a site/service level and authors should have to pay a small charge to submit their works for review. I do have a business model in my head for such a service, which has a small number of bars that have to be reached for a work to gain a trustworthy review. But an independent reviewing/blogging site is not enough. The classification system itself needs an overhaul so that it makes it easier for someone to search for works which suit their mood. The simple classification system we currently have, is not fit for purpose any more. When a reader comes to a site thinking, "I'm in the mood for a Victorian period comedy," current systems don't really support this way of browsing. One of my favorite cheesy films is, "Four Eyes and Six Guns," which is a comedy about an optometrist, set in the Wild West. Who'd have thought that such a combination even existed ?!

Me? I know that I'm not an experienced author. The small number of reviews that I do have, are scattered across the range. It is up to me to create a book that captures the imagination and makes people WANT to talk about it. That is the only way to go. Forced promotion is a short term solution that I hate whenever I see it, but it does overcome the problem that authors face... managing to get someone... anyone... to read the books and take the time to tell the world what they think.

I have estimated that I'll have a book worth reading in about another five years, if I keep up this level of practice. No short achievement for a dyslexic that works a nine to five and vlogs as well. But even if (and it's a big if) I do manage to reach that goal, then I do so in the hope that by the time I get there, that there will be a way to get an honest review of my efforts, and for people to see those reviews easily.

And those efforts are considerable for someone of my low resource. Friends and colleagues have edited my works, on top of the large amount of editing and reviewing that I put in myself. Even with all that effort, mistakes still make it through. 

I have commented in my vlogs numerous times, that the currency of the internet is trust. At the moment, with everyone out to grab whatever scraps they can in a world where the advertising model is starting to crumble, (as advertisers start to wake up to exactly how much of their money is being wasted)... if trust existed as a tradeable commodity on the stock exchange, it would be more valuable than gold, platinum, titanium... you get the drift.


Mayer past the perfect judgement on Kozlowski's post... "It really doesn't change anything."