These are the bits I thought particularly pertinent:
- You never hear readers grumble that traditional book publishing is too narrow and lacking in creativity. You only hear that from people who feel that their own book is being rejected because publishers are too cowardly and narrow-minded to see its true value.
- Is it really possible for a self-published book to be rigorously edited? After all, the editor is in the pay of the author (which is a bit like putting the lion in charge of the lion tamer). If the editor thinks the book is too bad to publish, will they say so? Will the author listen? Or will the author just find a tamer editor if the first refuses the work? (And in a time of economic stress, the editor might not feel they can afford to turn down the work. Sooner or later, the author will come across an editor in possession of more desperation than integrity.)
- What will happen when *all* the shit hits the fans? Publishers protect the public from the slush pile. The vast majority of rejected books are rejected for a good reason - they are rubbish. If all these books that are rubbish are unleashed on the poor, unsuspecting public, how will readers pick their way through the online slush pile?
At the moment, at least in the UK, many of the people who are self-publishing are often at least on the fringes of the publishing industry. They have been writing for years, going to classes or writing groups, submitting books that are repeatedly refused, perhaps - but they didn't just start writing yesterday. They are not all putting up total dross - there is some good stuff there, too. But it won't be long before every (wo)man and her/his dog is putting up their first unedited ramblings. It's easier to self-publish on Kindle than it is to write a pitch to an agent or publisher. So why bother? Pity the readers then, when the ratio of rubbish:readable veers further to the rubbish side. Will the reading public just give up? Will they just go off reading altogether? Or will they - irony - flock back to printed books once they have spent 100 times 99 cents on crap?
It's often said that the good writing rises to the top, but that's not true - look at some of the bestselling titles so far! And I don't mean that the type of genre fiction that does well is crap per se, but that a lot of the successful books are badly written and full of fundamental errors (poor spelling and grammar, for instance). Readers may fall for this for a while, when their Kindle is a new toy and they're keen to give cheap reads a go. But for how long? We will see. Eventually.