With the advent of ebooks and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, never has it been easier for people to publish their writings. Often it costs nothing more than the effort it took to produce the work. What this means is that, well, there is bound to be an awful lot of shite out there. I discovered this in one of my early forays into ebook purchasing. I was going on a short jaunt to Korea and thought I might get into the holiday spirit if I read some jolly tales about my destination. I bought an independently published book and downloaded it to my ipad. It was rubbish, but because of a peculiar compulsion I have to finish any book I start, I struggled through to the end. It was like finding myself trapped in the corner at a party with the most inarticulate of crushing bores and trying to figure out when I was supposed to smile, laugh, empathise or otherwise identify with such a painful, rambling monologue. With several of the tales, I turned the page wondering when the point of the story was going to become clear and discovered to my surprise, and also it has to be said some relief, that it had in fact ended.
But this piece isn’t intended to mock bad writers. I am well aware of the expression that begins, ‘People in glass houses…’. No, this piece is to encourage. You see, despite that poor start I have continued to buy independently published ebooks and have been very glad to find that amongst the dross that inevitably makes its way onto the market, there is some very well-written, highly professional stuff out there; writing that may never have made it out at all were the traditional publishing or expensive vanity publishing routes the only outlets. Five of the books I have read have been independently published by members of the foreign community in Japan and of those five not one has disappointed. Those books were all very different in style and each was a book which I could happily have read in one sitting had work and and other such matters not kept rudely interrupting. Reviews and blurbs for most are on Amazon so I won’t go into too much detail here other than to tell you which books they are and suggest you give one or two of them a go. They are, Hi, My Name Is Loco And I Am A Racist by Baye McNeil, Teaching In Asia: Tales And The Real Deal by Kevin O’Shea, The Teas That Bind by Joanne Greenway, Reconstructing 3/11 by various authors and put out by Abiko Free Press, and Hana Walker’s Half Life 2:46 by Our Man In Abiko.
Of course, my liking these books is no guarantee of their quality. Perhaps I’m just easily pleased. Perhaps. But even if that is the case, these books have been able to please me more easily than many books put out by the traditional publishers. There are a few stray typos in some, but there are as many in ebooks published by companies with teams of editors and proofreaders in their employ. Traditional publishing may allow a writer the validation of being able to say that an established company thinks the work is good enough to back, but that doesn’t mean independent publishing is always the route taken by second-rate authors, nor that the work itself is substandard. The books mentioned above are evidence that quality exists outside books published in the traditional manner. It’s good to know individuals are brave enough to put their work out there for all the world to criticise. It’s better to discover they had little to fear.