Let me lower myself into the reviewing pit... Dear Lord, this rope is slippery. Oooh, and it smells of poo down here… I dislike Amazon for its predatory ways (though I have a Kindle and buy old-fashioned books and novellas there: yes, I'm a hypocrite...). In recent years I've acquired a novella reading habit. I think with these shorter works authors can be experimental and still keep the quality very high across the whole piece. It's nice to see what a good author can do with a bit of freedom and the stories are widely available without you having to subscribe to every magazine going. If it weren’t for the Kindle I’d never have the chance to read all those delicious novellas, particularly of the SF kind. I wish Muhammad N. Sikandar well, though I'm not in his target audience and am unlikely to read more of his books. I don’t believe for a minute it’s possible to publish without writing a single word as Sikandar claims. When someone already has a large number of texts already written it’s a different case altogether. Probably Sikandar is filthy rich and is laughing all the way to the bank. On top of that, he’s writing for a very large potential audience, and in a genre that is currently probably the most popular - and therefore the most lucrative - in non-fiction: self-help books and cooking…We all need help once in a while and we also have to eat. What can I say? Sikandar has the skills to perform all aspects of the task of bringing his books to the customer himself, but at the end of the day he must write!!! I’m also quite flabbergasted he is able to write new books at a speed that others will struggle to match. Alas, I’m not superman, not even wonder-woman. How does he do it? After all is said and done, this is only possible because Amazon made Sikandar's success possible. But Sikandar is only a tiny outlier. There are enormous numbers of self-published authors on Amazon, and most of them sell pretty much nothing and make pretty much nothing. Successes in self-publishing are tiny compared to successes in traditional publishing. I'm not against self-publishing. I’ve done it myself. But I only managed that by writing lots of words...I think it's a great option for many people and many books. But too much is made of the very, very few successes, and too little is mentioned about the vast majority who don't ever come near to making what a newbie author would through traditional publishing. What I especially like about the Kindle is that it’s democratic. I’ve no longer to be bound by the nepotistic, backscratching and incestuous literary establishment but can go out and find talented authors for themselves. That’s why I bought myself a Kindle in 2009. It strikes me that the market will take over as the gatekeepers - books that the mass market decide are crap won't sell beyond the first few hundred or so, as there are customer reviews in most e-book stores. All hail crowd-sourcing. I've read plenty of dead tree books that may have been edited but should never have seen the light of day. Until the advent of smartphones you couldn't easily get other readers reviews whilst browsing in your local bookstore, so when buying a book by an unfamiliar author you were always taking a chance. And once an author does get established often their publishers will let them publish any crap they like (e.g., Tom Clancy, Lee Child).
SF = Speculative Fiction.