An avid reader calls it as she sees it on books, publishing and the written word in general.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Part 2: The Emperor’s Edge and self-publishing

I just couldn’t let it go. Every possible argument for and against self-publishing has already been made time and time again, but I can’t resist weighing in with a few thoughts. If you can’t take it anymore, you have my blessing to go and watch scantily-clad footballers wives tread the blue carpet at the Brownlow Medal. Although listening to the commentary for five minutes made me want to drive a fork into my ear. Should you decide to stay, I can at least promise something slightly more coherent.
I bought The Emperor’s Edge because I was going on a long plane journey and needed books. I can get a through a lot of books in 24 hours travel and so I didn’t want to pay too much for each. To be honest, I opened up Smashwords and sat there bamboozled for a good ten minutes, wondering where to turn. The Emperor’s Edge happened to be the current no. 1 so I bought it on the principle that that many people can’t be wrong.
As you can see from my previous review, I didn’t regret my purchasing decision. For a few dollars I was more than happy with the experience. However, this post is really about asking – what if The Emperor’s Edge  had been traditionally published? From a readers’ perspective, what would be different?
For a start, I probably wouldn’t have been able to download it at all because of territorial restrictions. As it was only published in 2010, I doubt we would have an eBook version accessible in Australia yet. You can find my exasperated rant on that subject here.
Next question – do I think The Emperor’s Edge  would have sold as well if traditionally published and traditionally priced? There’s no answer to that that doesn’t involve a lot of guesswork. From my point of view, I’ve read traditionally published books that were arguably better written and didn’t sell, and traditionally published books that were far worse and sold like hotcakes. Further than that I can’t say.
Do I think The Emperor’s Edge  could have benefited from more stringent editing? Perhaps. Some of the flaws I noted in my review could have been fixed by a good editor. That said, anyone with a “name” these days doesn’t seem to get edited at all – I’ve stopped buying Janet Evanovich altogether for that reason. To be fair, when I think about The Emperor’s Edge, I am thinking of what a really good or brilliant editor could have done for it, and those are hard to find. The book seems to have had a competent edit and is by no means a failure in that department.
The upshot? We can play guessing games all we want, but ultimately each book has to be judged on its merits. Comparing The Emperor’s Edge with a hypothetical traditionally published version doesn’t get us much further in the debate. All I can say is that as a reader, I was happy with the book I bought, and the price I paid for it. To steal a cliché from the footballers’ handbook, at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.

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