I had intended to save this topic for a later date, but something just happened that prompts me to bring it up now.
On the recommendation of a Facebook friend, I downloaded a western historical by an author I'm not familiar with. I thought, oh, good, a new author with a whole list of books I haven't read already. Eagerly, I opened to the first page and started reading. The first brief paragraph was in the hero's point of view. The second paragraph was in the heroine's. What? That's where I stopped, and I won't be returning to this book. I refuse to read a book written by someone who ignores the rules of craft that I've had drummed into my head for the past fifteen years and that I abide by at all costs. How much easier it would be to whip out the pages if I didn't have to follow even the most basic rules, such as NO HEAD-HOPPING. This book was not self-published, nor was it from a small press. I find it hard to swallow that such blatant head-hopping is still allowed by the big pubs in this day and time. I mean really. First two paragraphs of the book!
End of rant.
Now, to the real topic of this post. Quality control.
A year ago, one of the reasons I wouldn't have considered self-publishing was the issue of quality control. With Amazon's Kindle program, B&N's Pubit, and a whole host of others, anyone out there, even down to their siblings and cousins, can publish any old thing they whip out on a word processing program and it doesn't cost them a dime to do it. How are the book buying consumers supposed to wade through all the crap to find books worth reading? It seemed there was no answer because the vetting process, the gatekeepers, had been taken out of the equation. This lack of any kind of quality control was the one aspect of the self-publishing stampede that troubled me the most.
Then, the ebook retailers provided the solution, and it was so simple. It's called sampling. All the major ebook retailers have sampling on their sites. You can try the beginning of any ebook before you commit to buying it. The sample depends on the book length. I checked and the sample of my book is something just over the first two chapters. Shorter lengths may only be the first chapter or so. Plenty enough material to tell whether or not a book is well written--or not--and if it's something we want to spend time reading. I even sample the books from the big NY pubs and I've run across quite a few clunkers that I decided not to waste my time or money on, and this after the blurbs made them sound so good. Thank goodness for samples. Now we don't have to rely on reader reviews, which may or may not have been posted by the author's friends and family.
Samples are definitely our friends.
Have you tried sampling yet?