Last week I listened to an episode of Mur Lafferty's I Should be Writing (http://www.isbw.murlafferty.com) in which she mentioned the ongoing war between self pub and traditional pub. The problem so many people have with self publication is that there is no filter. Anyone can publish a masterpiece or an utter piece of literary junk. It is argued that traditional publishing acts as that filter. However, I find myself sorely disappointed more often with traditional publishing than I do self publishing, maybe because I expect to get something half decent from traditional and I always research the self published titles first. This past weekend I read a book (I will not say what book) that I was a little disheartened about. It came from a traditional publisher and was even a "#1 best seller" and all that stuff that makes you think, well it can't be completely terrible. However, this book was riddled with terrible prose. There was too much attention to unnecessary detail and it read like an encyclopedia instead of a novel ... and this is a #1 best seller! This is also the 11th book in a series by this author. The dialogue was stiff, the story slow, the emotion unbelievable ... all in all disappointing.
With the decline of traditional publishers and the rise of ebooks and indibooks there should be a drive for a level of writing that there hasn't been. Traditional publishers' biggest weekness is that they'd rather publish a book with a name that will sell on the front cover instead of good prose that will sell itself. Eventually we won't be able to trust any #1 best seller or traditional publishers for a quick and easy book pickup. Or at least that is how it's starting to seem.
I am one to read a bit of everything and very rarely do I touch the best seller lists unless I'm on a trip or am looking for a simple "beach read." Time and time again I find myself disappointed by what is making it onto that list. So do we rely on traditional publishers to feed us so called good books? Or do we have to research and read reviews for every book we read?
Traditional publishing, in my opinion, is crumbling because it is trying to sell celebrity names instead of good prose. There will always be a place for traditional publishing ... but I find myself losing faith in it more and more with each "impulse" book I pick up.
On the flip side I've done some proofreading for a small indipress and I haven't once found myself disappointed. The quality is consistently good, even if it isn't a genre I would normally read.
Of course there are still great books coming out of traditional publishing ... we just have to be a little more careful as to what we pick up off the shelf.