Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Should there be a quality mark for books?

I have recently been on some of the forums on Amazon and found one thread by a reader who was quite nasty about self published books - basically saying they were all crap and people shouldn't be allowed to publish without a proper publishing company behind them.  She was bitching that to find books by 'reputable' authors was difficult as there was no flagging mechanism by Amazon to indicate which books listed were published by indie authors so she could avoid them.

At the same time I have been contacted by an American company asking me to submit my children's book to them for review and apply for a Quality Mark - either Gold, Silver or Bronze.

This raised the question - should there be a quality mark for all fiction books?

In the event of the 'revolution' in the publishing industry, I can attest that there are books out there that have mistakes in, but they are a mixture of indie books and books by some of the big publishing companies.  I myself have purchased books from Mills and Boon that have contained several errors and have read indie books that are as good as, if not better than M & B.

Should there be a company that issues industry-wide quality marks for publishing material where works submitted are reviewed by a panel of experts (proof readers, editors, people with a publishing background), and issued with a quality mark of either Gold, Silver or Bronze?  The books could then carry the mark to prove to readers that they have 'passed' a basic standard of publishing quality and are therefore of a marketable standard.  They wouldn't assess the story lines, just the editing, layout, blurb etc.

I for one would submit my books to them in order to get the quality mark - it would 'put to rest' the gripes constantly seen on forums whereby readers bitch about books published and blatantly ignore the fact that just because they don't like a book, doesn't mean that everyone else won't like it or the book is crap and doesn't necessarily mean all indie books are crap.

It makes me wonder why some readers actually purchase books from Amazon, if they are so cynical about indie books - after all if they pick up a book with a negative view on it, then they won't like it whether it is brilliant or not. They have the option to read 15-20% of the book before they buy it, they can see inside the book on Amazon's LOOK INSIDE feature, and can read the blurb and reviews - there is enough there to make an informed choice if they want to read it or not. To bitch about the 'meagre' sample chapters and moan there is insufficient there to make an informed decision in essence means that they want the book for free.  There are people out there who simply don't like indie authors - that's fine - but there are people who target indie authors and look for issues for no other reason than they are indie authors, and therefore leave harsh reviews. There are also indie authors out there who put their books out for free - that's fine, but readers must therefore accept that free doesn't always mean best.  After all, you get what you pay for right?

A basic quality mark by an authority in the publishing industry would rule out the 'quality' issue.  In light of the changes in the publishing industry, unless Amazon, Smashwords etc., freeze out indie authors altogether, nothing is likely to change for the foreseeable future.

Does this mean therefore that the industry should now 'catch up' with the changes and ensure the necessary safeguards are in place to regain the publishing industry's kudos?

I don't think indie authors should be singled out, the quality marks should be there for publishing companies or not - is it feasible to have an independent body to issue the quality marks?  Would anyone be bothered?  Or is the somewhat murky, slightly shambolic publishing world as it is today just rumble on until Amazon get fed up and make a major move none of us may be happy with?

Your thoughts...........


  1. I read another post recently about how some readers are only buying/downloading the free books. If you put that post together with this post, it makes sense. Like you say free doesn't necessarily mean best - but then the reader is tarring all indie writers with the same brush. I'm not sure I'm keen on a quality mark though - there just seems to be something very corporate about that. Maybe the answer is to educate people to buy books again rather than expect hard work to be given away free.

  2. I know what you mean - it does make it 'corporate' to add quality marks but wouldn't this effectively ensure that the industry is brought up to a universal standard. If books don't have a quality mark, readers must accept that they may have errors.

    I have no doubt that free books are seriously damaging the market and readers are downloading for free and forgetting the adage that you get what you pay for.

  3. Some publishers put their newbie authors books out for free to help get their name known and to hopefully get reviews. Some pubbers just promote more or in different ways. My debut hasn't been free for a few months now and to be honest, with it being free back then that didn't get me many more reviews. I'm really pleased with 99% of the reviews people have graciously left me.

    Happy writing!

  4. Hi Rebecca. Who was the company that contacted you about applying for a Quality Mark? Is it possible to provide a URL for them?

    I found your blog researching quality marks for books. I feel some sort of quality mark is becoming more important for both commercial publishers and self publishers.

    It is becoming more and more difficult to determine what is good and what is poorly written material without putting up the cash first. Of course it is too late once you find out you just paid for someone's get rich quick scheme rehash of a private license rights book.

    The next issue will be companies scamming writers to get their Quality Mark.

    Thanks and good luck with your writing.