I liked this post by Walter Jon Williams. Key quote:
Even if Amazon is yet another megalomaniacal Internet company bent on annihilating all competition and achieving total world domination in its chosen field (250 points!), Amazon has still provided more options for writers than anyone since Gutenberg. The Kindle broke open the world market for ebooks, and created opportunities for people like me, with considerable backlist, to find new readers for their work.
This bit amused me, though:
It’s an enormous hassle to deal with the traditional publishing scene right now, but unless you get into the indie scene with a built-in audience— and preferably with a backlist— your brand-new indie book is going to run the risk of being buried in an enormous electronic heap of millions of absolutely crap books.
That bit amused me because almost every single traditionally published author who self-publishes an ebook worries about this. How to make their book stand out in the sea of crap ebooks? It’s like there’s five stages of traditionally published author grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) and the “but there are so many crap ebooks” worry usually hits around the bargaining stage or so.
But as I’ve argued before, it’s really not a problem. Ebooks are like YouTube videos – it doesn’t matter how many videos are on YouTube so long as you can get to the videos you like without hassle. Seriously – do people go on Amazon, buy ebooks at random, and act shocked if they don’t like them? Does anyone actually do that?
In the end, building an audience is hard, slow work, and there’s no magical bullet around it – not even traditional publication.