1. Every publishing path has its drawbacks, and no drawback is ultimately worse than any other.
I chose self-publishing after knowing, and accepting, the drawbacks, one of which was the unavailability of many discoverability channels. The fact that my book will never be in Wal-Mart or in a magazine is something that I made peace with a long time ago. I published my books anyway, because I thought they could succeed despite that. And they have, modestly.
The drawbacks in self publishing are different than those in small or traditional publishing (some people say low royalties and lack of creative control are drawbacks, for example), and I decided to self publish because, despite those drawbacks, I decided the benefits more than canceled them out. One week before publishing my third book, I’m very happy with my decision, drawbacks and all.
2. Other books are not a reflection on mine just because we have a publishing path in common.
Before I publish a book, I work hard to make sure it’s edited, nicely formatted, and professionally presented. I have two editors work on it, plus proofreaders and a formatter. I also have a professionally designed cover.
Then I solicit reviews from book bloggers and Goodreads reviewers. I set up a blog tour comprised, in large part, of those bloggers. When my book publishes, they post their review on Amazon, because I approached them professionally with a polished product, and they want to post the review. Besides the blog tour, I have a multi-tiered marketing plan designed to create buzz about the book months before it’s published.
All these things, together, set my book apart from sub-par self-published books. Readers don’t need an official seal of approval or a publisher name or a special tag in the Kindle store to tell that my book is a high quality publication, and that’s because…
3. Readers are smart.
They’re smart enough to set up their own channels of discoverability. They know how to follow book bloggers they trust, and ask friends for book recommendations, and navigate their way through online retailers, and remember the names of authors whose previous work they’ve loved, and check for things like great covers, good reviews, compelling descriptions, and they do all these things because they want to buy and read books that are exactly what they’re looking for.
Some people are looking for highly-vetted, traditionally published literary fiction, and they know to look at certain review lists to find them. Some people want to read dinosaur erotica, and they know how to look for that. People have unique, specific tastes, and they know what they want to read, and I believe they’re better at finding books for themselves than any large third party could be.
I believe that readers are smart enough to find the books/authors they’re interested in reading. They’re smart enough to download a sample, read a page or two, and discern whether the writing is unsatisfactory to them in any way. They really are.