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Does Quality Matter Anymore?

Today I’ve been looking at Space Opera ebooks that are for sale on the Kindle. Some of them appear to be doing quite well for their authors hovering in the sub one thousand rankings. I sampled a few of them to see how they read. I do this periodically, so I’m familiar with the style and quality of the books that are selling well on Kindle.

Once again I find there are various levels of what I would subjectively call “quality writing” that are selling quite well. Indie ebooks do not have to pass through the same set of filters that traditionally published books do. There’s been no agent and no editor to siphon out the books that are amateurish or just poorly written. That’s not to say that these books are not well edited, it is to say that the writing ability of some indie authors is not to the level of most traditionally published books. There are plenty of well written, properly edited indie books out there too.

The observation I’m trying to make here is that there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason as to which books are selling better. Everyone tells you that only a well-written book will do well and that you shouldn’t just publish your first book and or draft. But I’m not seeing that in this genre. I’m seeing just as many poorly written books doing well as those that are written to a higher standard.

What is this telling us about the market? I’m starting to think it means that the educational level of many readers is not that high. They want great stories that move along and have lots of action. But they also like stories that move slowly and are about average people. These readers don’t care if the writing is sub par. They also don’t care about whether the author is self-published or a brand name in the genre. They tend to migrate to the lower end of the price spectrum and probably purchase far more ebooks than anyone else.

When you purchase a book that has been traditionally published, you know you are getting a book that has a certain level of quality to it. Otherwise it would not have made it through the gauntlet that is publishing. That doesn’t mean you will always get a book that you like, everyone has different tastes and some books do better than others because of that.

But now that authors can go straight to market without going through quality filters, books of lesser quality are holding their own against the traditionally published ones. I find that interesting and disconcerting. I wonder where the quality level will wind up when the filter of publishing is completely removed. How bad does a book have to be before nobody reads it? How long does a good book sit on the digital shelves before someone notices it? Is marketing and audience the only factor in a book’s success? Does quality of content matter less than we think?


1 thought on “Does Quality Matter Anymore?”

  1. It’s slightly disturbing. Even pulp writers from back in the day had better standards than a lot of ebooks I’ve read (not all ebooks). I think a lot of people upload their books without having people pre-read their book besides their Mom.

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