I like to read young adult paranormal fiction. Fortunately, it is an extremely popular genre at the moment, and there are consequently many new titles appearing on the shelves of my local Barnes & Noble every month. Unfortunately, I read so quickly that I often find myself anxiously tapping my foot waiting for next Tuesday to arrive in the hopes that it will bring me new and exciting novels to fill my leisure time.
As I have been browsing for new books on my Kindle, I have come across a phenomenon that I’m sure many e-book readers are also faced with – the self-published e-book. The dawn of the Kindle, the Nook, and the other e-readers trying to get a foothold in the market has also given new opportunities to authors who want to self-publish. Anyone who wants to can easily upload the text and cover of their work to a web site, assign it a price, and begin receiving a percentage of the sales. My response to e-publishing, I was surprised to discover, was ambivalence in the true sense of the word, meaning I had both positive and negative emotional responses.
In theory, I thought it was a great opportunity for people who wanted to share their work with the world. In my more sentimental moments, I have been known to lament how sad it is that so many works of art in all mediums are never experienced outside of the artists’ heads. But getting a foot in the door of the publication industry can be a difficult, even insurmountable task, and many would-be authors might not want to go through the heartache and hassle.
In practice, I found my response to self-published books to be one of dismissive irritation. I would click to see books recommended to someone who liked my latest favorite and find myself bombarded with dozens of self-published books. Without even reading the descriptions, I was unwilling to invest the nominal fee of $2.99 for something that had not undergone the full editing process. I immediately discounted any works that did not have a corresponding print list price and grumbled that I could not filter out such works out of my browser.
I realized that these negative thoughts were at odds with my philosophical beliefs. And since I, like most people, am uncomfortable with cognitive dissonance, I sought a method to resolve this. Self-published books may not have undergone substantial revision by multiple writing professionals, but that doesn’t mean that none of them are worth reading. The inverse is certainly true – I have read many published books that I wish I had not wasted my time on.
I was then faced with a conundrum: How do I distinguish good self-published YA paranormal from bad? I wished there were someone out there who would distinguish the good books from the bad for me. Someone who would say, “This book was amazing” or “This story was interesting, but someone needs to teach the author the proper use of the comma” or “I must burn every copy of this novel for fear that an alien species may discover it and determine that the human race needs to be destroyed for its own good.”
And that is when I had my brilliant idea: I could be that person. I could read this plethora of self-published YA paranormal e-literature and winnow out the diamonds from the dust. After all, whose opinion can I trust more than my own? Plus, I need a new hobby.
And so, Wading Through Electronic Ink is born!