Yes, I have been away for a long time, two mind-bending weeks in Australia, which I will post about when I can wrap my own thoughts around the trip. That will not be today, however. I'm still trying to wake up.
But life and work go on, especially work, and today is a big launch of a new venture in publishing that I wanted to write about: a collective of thriller writers called Killer Thrillers.
I've been blogging more and more here about e publishing and marketing, because these days it's impossible to have a career as a novel writer without being an expert in both. So today I'd like to talk about the issue of filters.
One of the huge problems of e publishing from a quality perspective is that in the brave new world of self publishing, "gatekeepers" have essentially been eliminated. Agents and publishers are no longer filtering books before they're put before the public. While there's an argument that that's a good thing, I know from my years as a reader for film production companies how very much absolute dreck is screened out by early readers: agents, editorial assistants, editors - and when I say dreck I mean scripts and books that should never have been read by another soul besides the purported author.
I'm all for readers being allowed to discover books on their own, and it is true that the actual purchase or publication of a script or book is subject to personal taste, the specific needs of a publishing house or line, and the vagaries of the market. But those screeners also kept some seriously awful material from ever seeing the light of day.
So now that anyone who can figure out the e publishing platform can upload virtually anything to Kindle, Pubit, Kobo and Smashwords, where's the quality control? You can argue that the readers are their own quality control now, but seriously - the vast number of books - and especially free books - on offer has made
sorting through the dreck that's out there (and oh yes, the dreck is
out there) a time-consuming proposition for a reader.
Personally, I WANT some screening. But where is that going to come from?
While literary agencies are a logical entity for promotion of quality authors and books, they seem so far reluctant to set themselves up as publishers or storefronts for their clients. And since agencies are not performing this function, I have thought for some time that authors should be banding together to support and promote their own books, and there are more and more of these author collectives springing up (not surprisingly the majority are romance authors). I've been asked to join various author collectives but have so far been wary about committing because I haven't heard of or more importantly read most of the authors involved. I can't in good conscience post about other authors' books on Facebook and Twitter and on this blog and others when I haven't actually read the goods. I think we all have a responsibility not to waste other people's time by randomly promoting mediocre books and leaving readers to find for themselves that those books were better avoided.
So so far my only choices have been to form a collective of authors I admire myself, or wait for someone like-minded to do it. And luckily for me, thriller author Karen Dionne has done exactly that. Karen is a bestselling author and organizer extraordinaire: the founder of the writers forum Backspace and the Backspace Writers Conference. For Killer Thrillers she's put together a group of thriller authors I would have approached myself: friends and blogmates from Murderati: Rob Gregory Browne, Brett Battles and Zoe Sharp, and other authors I know and love like David Morrell, Blake Crouch, CJ Lyons, Keith Raffel - all authors I have read and can recommend without reservation.
All Killer Thrillers authors are bestselling, award-winning and/or internationally published; most are traditionally published as well as e published. Those qualifications do not guarantee that a particular reader will love all or any of the books offered, but they do say that a significant number of readers have found the books worth reading. And most of the authors involved know each other from Bouchercon and Thrillerfest, MWA and ITW and Sisters in crime, and can promote each other without the slightest hesitation.
In essence authors are banding together to establish their own publishing imprints, just as publishers do. We are creating an umbrella organization that guarantees a certain genre and a certain quality of work. How effective these collectives are going to be in the Wild West of e publishing is an open question, but Killer Thrillers is a brand I can put my energy into building with real enthusiasm. I hope you'll check out the site and the books today, and if you see anything you like, tell your friends.
And today I'd love to talk about book screening. How do you find your books these days? Have you seen other effective methods of quality control and promotion?
Related e publishing and marketing posts:
My e publishing decision
E publishing - Where do I START?
To Nook or Not to Nook?
Giving it Away (Kindle Select promotion)
Marketing = Madness
Letting it Ride (Kindle Select promotion)
Bestseller lists and Tag lists
Liking, Sharing and Tagging
In other news...
I'm thrilled that Huntress Moon is a featured book in Amazon's KDP newsletter this week.
And I made IndieReader's Top 100 Indie Authors list for August with the sales of Huntress Moon alone.
Yes, I am happy I decided to e publish!
A driven FBI agent is on the hunt for that most rare of all killers: a female serial.