On July 1, 2011 the Huffington Post published an article titled Cherish the Book Publishers - You'll Miss Them When They're Gone. The article, written by Eric Felton, discusses the new wave of self publishing via websites like amazon.com (for the Kindle) and barnesandnoble.com (for the Nook). He does discuss some writers who have become well known authors after self publishing like John Locke and Amanda Hocking, but Felton goes on more of a tangent on how self publishing will hurt the publishing industry.
Felton discusses how those who work in the publishing industry make it easy for readers to choose a book that they will enjoy. They've done their jobs by sifting through thousands of submissions from novelist hopefuls in order to bring readers only the good. Self publishers of e-books are able to get their writing out on their own, without anyone telling them whether it is good or bad, so who knows what readers are buying.
This article hit me pretty hard. Yes, I'm sure there are plenty of hopeful writers out there who've published their e-books with hopes of making it big. I'm sure there are some that don't make it because they haven't put in the time and effort it takes to really polish a novel until it's just right for readers. Let's face it, we do pose a risk of allowing errors to pass by since we do not have the proofreaders and editors of a large publishing house. But, I can not forget the number of times I've found a noticeable error in a book I've read, published and read over by some of the largest publishing houses in the country.
Felton's comments concerning the "sifting" of submissions by publishing houses leaves me understanding that he's never had the chance to read some truly good works that had been rejected by numerous publishers. Many reasons for rejection aren't because of bad writing skills or bad stories, but instead because a book just doesn't fit the niche that the house has created for itself. So good, even fantastic, novels get rejected because the publishing house refuses to go beyond it's normal clique.
I praise all the authors who have come out with their novels via e-publishing, and I hope to do it myself very soon. It takes a lot of guts to take something you've worked probably hundreds, if not thousands, of hours on between you're normal full-time job, taking care of your family, etc. Will they all make it? There's a chance we, as writers, won't make it big no matter what we do. But we write because we love to tell stories that people will enjoy reading because it takes them out of their normal routine if even just for a few minutes each day. Maybe by more writers self-publishing, readers will notice that there are amazing books available to them that may not have a publishing house logo on it or money behind it, but that instead is filled with the heart and soul of the writer who took the time to produce an incredible story. Maybe they will discover what the publishing houses have kept from them just because it didn't fit with their genre guidelines or just because one single copy editor just didn't like it.