Everyone knows how to write, ergo everyone is a writer. The craft of creative fiction is easy; you have a story in your head, you write it down and presto! it is a masterpiece of dramatic fiction. Punctuation and those pesky grammar rules merely get in the way of the muse, stifling creativity.
It was once called “vanity publication,” and patronized by people who wanted to write a book about their life, meant for their family and a few forgiving friends. Today, self-publishing services, the rise of ebooks and Print-on-Demand services has created a cottage industry allowing anyone with a PC to publish their manuscript. No longer does one need to pursue the elusive agent, or stalk the publishing house editor with gifts of wine and roses. Dash off a few thousand words, hit SUBMIT, and your novel is up for sale on Amazon.
The ability to publish has morphed into a mandate to publish. I can, therefore I should.
We now have the pleasure of reading such literary giants as Double-Stuffed by the Dragons (…graphic descriptions of explicit sexual acts, including: a girl being taken by two dragons, oral sex with a forked tongue…). No, I’m not kidding.
Would you buy a painting from a person who sat at the easel for their very first time and daubed a landscape in purple and blue? A lopsided ashtray crafted by a neophyte sculptor? A song from a tone-deaf composer? Why then are people buying books from self-published authors who have never learned how to write? And giving them four- and five-star reviews? Have our own educational standards fallen so far that we can’t recognize weak and uninspiring prose?
Self-published books are another step down the slippery slope of low standards and lower expectations. Acceptance of marginal effort leads to further lack of effort. Entropy beckons. To forestall this trend, self-published novels should have a warning label, much like tobacco, foods containing nuts and wheat, and alcoholic beverages. It should read:
Warning: Written by an amateur. Published without editing, creativity, or any clue regarding pace, narrative, exposition, Point-of-View, symbolism, filtering, tension, or the proper use of commas versus semi-colons. Reading this book will stunt your intellect and destroy irreplaceable brain cells.