Different haystack, same needles? The self-publishing revolution can now be officially described as a re-arranging of deck chairs. Different people are making some money, but that’s about it as far as your hopey-changey stuff goes.
Here are the Top 10 Smashwords Bestsellers now excitedly listed in Publisher’s Weekly
Congratulations all around.
For me, nothing is different. If I wanted romance and erotica books, I could always get those anyway. If I wanted YA fantasy, there’s certainly no shortage in the old fashioned book world. Different random writers are making it through the pipeline, but I believe that with any bit of luck those same writers would have found their way the traditional route as well. Somebody flipped a coin and this one, not that one, was pulled out of the pile. Now the pile has shifted slightly, and heads are now tails and tails are now heads.
The search for quality literature coming through this new Alice-in-Wonderland door is only lacking its Sontags and NYRB reviewers, and hopefully those are coming along and will crack some social media ceiling of some sort some day. In the meantime, there are interesting aggregators like the Philistine Press who make and promote a promising selection of needles. I hope to find more of those kind of places online, so if anyone knows of any please let me know.
I feel like I’ve been looking for literature in all the wrong places, and as the I Ching wisely pronounced, what is not sought in the right way is not found. (the story of my life, it sometimes seems). I want to come across more of the Saramagos, the Airas, the Sebalds, the Virginia Woolfs and Margaret Atwoods that I know are out there self-publishing their hearts out. Finders of this blog know that I’ve found a few, but there have to be more. The odds demand it.
I was hoping that it wouldn’t come down to merely this, the banal trumpeting of crappy bestsellers as representing the final triumph of self-publishing, but I think I knew it all along. I was a bookseller for far too long to expect anything otherwise. Money talks. Bullshit walks. Funny, though, how bullshit and money are so often exactly the same thing.