Amazon’s Kindle Store, it seems, is quickly becoming a bandwagon for novels that couldn’t find a publisher elsewhere. Some of these authors are posting respectable sales figures but, for my money, the vetting process is the main advantage traditional publishers have. Self-publishing is still self-publishing, whether as an ebook or POD. I won't buy either, at any price, or even download for free (unless it's an author I'm familiar with), because I don't waste my time reading rubbish. I'm sure there are some diamonds in the rough out there, but I simply don't have time to sift through the dreck trying to find them. With a traditional publisher, at least I know several professional eyes have seen and greenlighted a project before it hits the shelves. I still might be disappointed, but the odds are better that I won't.

What do you guys think? Will sites like Amazon’s Kindle Store eventually put agents and editors on the endangered species list? Or, is the traditional vetting process essential to the future of publishing?

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Overall, I think some manner of vetting will remain in place for the most part, and I think people prefer it.

However, Kindle and other similar sites might make it easier and more economical for a small, indy publisher to get out there.

My experience with POD is very limited. I have read a couple of POD books, but they were on VERY specialized or narrow topics and were written by people who had strong reputations in their very limited field of expertise - a field so limited that it is likely a traditional publisher might not take a chance.

I think the other big thing is the traditional publisher, presumably, has expertise in various things related to marketing, distribution, "getting the word out", not to mention taking advantage of name recognition, etc. Whether they use these strengths or not is subject to opinion among published writers - and it seems to vary - but the simple fact is someone publishing their book on their own may have a far more challenging time with everything from distribution to landing reviews to basic marketing strategies.

Eventually, even via Amazon's Kindle Store, traditional publishers will find a way to stand out from the plethora of novels that could not find a home elsewhere.

Finally, how many times do you put up with the "rough" part of a "gem in the rough" before you give up on reading POD books?

For me, my book purchase determinations remain:
Books by authors I know personally, or simply enjoy reading
Books recommended by friends and colleagues I trust
Books I pick up after looking over them in the store (usually a couple times)

Did my boss say I have to read this?
Topic is most important.
Author's note/bio needs to give me some level of comfort with his/her expertise.
Friend/colleague recommendations

None of my criteria really lend themselves to giving a POD book a chance.
I buy authors I know from past reading experience. I may also buy something that has been reviewed and is much praised. And, of course, I buy anything in my field that promises to be good research material.

As for unknown authors: I tend to sample their work in the library. I do not read (or buy) self-published books.
As for Kindle: my guess is that the big publishers have already jumped on that bandwagon -- especially since Amazon pays standard fees and absorbs the loss in order to promote Kindle.
I'm honestly conflicted by Kindle and how it's changing things. Writers who would snub their noses at self-published authors, or even authors who had small presses that used POD technology, now seem to feel it's okay to put their own work on Kindle to make money.

Kindle seems to be blurring the lines and changing attitudes about self publishing, even if the people using the technology that way have a list of excuses for their decision. (And I'm not coming down for or against their decision, I'm just saying it seems a bit hypocritical of some specific people I've seen put content on Kindle.)
Kindle seems to be blurring the lines and changing attitudes about self publishing...

Very true, Sandra.
Your mistake is equating the Kindle with self-publishing. Certainly the Kindle is used for self-publishing, but so it the printing process. It is merely a method of delivery; any agent work or editing has already taken place before the work is put on the Kindle, so just because a work is released on the Kindle doesn't mean it hasn't been edited or gone through an agent.

So no, the Kindle Store is not going to do anything to agents or editors. The trend of self-publishing might. Bowker reported recently that last year was the first that the numberself-published books exceeded traditionally-published books.

Personally, I don't think the "traditional vetting process" is essential. But that doesn't mean no vetting process is. Who better to judge the quality of work than readers. I for one welcome the added competition that self-published works will bring, as competition often leads to an increase in quality and value. It would be nice to have an established "indie" culture for books like we have for music.
I understand what you're saying, but there are people putting content directly on the Kindle when it hasn't gone through a vetting process (which is what I was referring to in my post). If I choose to make a package of short stories available tomorrow, directly through me, it doesn't matter that I'm an author with a contract elsewhere; those stories are still self published. Now, I could get someone to edit them, but again, I'm still the person 'publishing' them, if you will.

When it comes to my books, those are put on Kindle by the publisher and edited and they receive a portion of profits and handle the business side of things. It does seem as though there are many people skipping the middle-man, as it were, and I'm not sure what I think about it.

People might be interested in JA Konrath's post about his Kindle numbers:
Precisely. When you have a contract with a print publisher, that publisher owns electronic rights and you are not consulted on whether you'd like to be on Kindle. So far, it's probably not been a bad thing for me. The Kindle versions seem to sell well, and I can use anything that reduces the money owed via advances.
Who better to judge the quality of work than readers.

Well, that's one of the basic arguments the self-published authors are making. But who has time to wade through a thousand first chapters before finally finding a book that might actually be readable? I certainly wouldn't base any purchasing decisions on reader reviews. They're worthless for the most part.

It would be nice to have an established "indie" culture for books like we have for music.

LOL. I suppose every garage band with some music software is an "indie" recording artist, just like every hack with internet access and the inclination to upload something onto Kindle or have something printed POD is a "published" author. What a joke.
So have you sold your book yet?
Good to have you back, Jude. Long time, no see.

I will occasionally read Amazon reviews for a non-fiction book, to see if the author actually knows what he's talking about. Even then, two Amazon reviewers may give diametrically opposed views of his expertise. I'm then forced to read the review itself for buzzwords and quality of writing to see which deserves the most weight. I'm just not going to do that for fiction, given the wide and shallow range of opinions most such reviewers have to offer.

The indie concept works much better for recording artists than it does for books. You can test drive a song in three minutes, and get a good idea of what a band sounds like in ten or fifteen. A book takes much longer. Even with that advantage, I'll bet the majority of indie groups who make it big get picked up by a lable or on the radio. There's just too much for people to listen to for them to have the time to sort through all the crap to find those groups worth their time.


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