It’s hard to get published. Out there somewhere are twelve people who were offered and turned down Harry Potter, a decision which must occasionally come to them in the night. But it also means that there are many prospective authors out there with good books that will never see print.
Then there’s the self published. There’s an undeserved air of desperation about self publishing which isn’t attached to those bands who pay to record their own tracks, or artists who paint pieces that will never sell. When one reads a self published work, one is extra critical because one can’t help thinking that this has probably been rejected by professional agents or publishers. Yet, as mentioned above, even they make mistakes.
Having said all that, they’re not wrong all the time. I’ve just abandoned reading a political thriller I bought which had been, from the look of it, self published. It’s professionally bound and printed, and I’m not going to name it, or its author, as I don’t want to belittle something that a lot of work was obviously put into. But it highlights the danger of self publication. The basic premise of the book was sound enough for me to warrant buying it. But as I read it, two things became apparent: The author has a (declared) fascination with both the occurrence of coincidence and the card game Bridge, and these fascinations are shoehorned into the story with such frequency as to cause the plot to move at a snail’s pace when not being completely sidelined. It is here that a professional agent would have said, I assume, that fascinating as they were, they’ve got to come out. Want to write a novel about coincidence? Fine. Want to write about Bridge? Again, no problem. But wanting to write about an Alien invasion of Earth and then trying to cram in intricate observations about one’s early Victorian doll collection every ten pages just isn’t going to happen.