On Monday, yet another publishing program entered the "publish your own e-book" arena. Vook says it provides an easy-to-use platform that will create a "professionally styled" book and then the program will help you distribute that e-book to Amazon, BN.com, and other online sellers.The finished books do look much more professional and offer more interactivity than some of the free or low-cost services I've seen (like CreateBaby, Sigil, more), but Vook is much more expensive in return.
While I applaud the idea that many talented authors who are overlooked by publishing houses will be able to get their work in front of an audience, I have an issue with self-publishing. Many of the books aren't, well, worth the time.
Think about all of the people out there who truly believe that they are artists and that the world really does need another black-velvet painting of clowns. The only thing saving them from us is the fact that there is no venue for them to get their "art" in front of the world through an online gallery...yet.
Some of the self-published writers have to print their own books for a reason. They are writing stories that are the equivalent of black-velvet paintings. I've had a LOT of those books emailed to me in the last few months, so I know what I'm talking about.
There is a certain element of curation that takes place in publishing, and maybe Amazon, BN.com, Apple and others are going to have to start providing that curation. Or maybe reviewers will have a bigger role to play in helping people decide what's good, and what isn't. But some sort of curation will be needed.
And I don't like black velvet.