Orsayor: With the rise of e-books on the market, some "authors" think they can type up a few words, put it on amazon, and then give themselves the title of Best-Selling Author. My question to you is: What makes a book legitimate?
Moses: Basically, any written or printed work that consists of pages is a legitimate book. All we have to go by when we buy a book is what we've seen in the past. Does it look and feel like what we've become accustomed to knowing a book to be? If it does, for most people it passed the litmus test. That's why younger readers are the early adopters to e-books, because many of them are tech-savvy and were raised in a technological era. They don't need bound pages. They're used to reading text messages and emails on LCD screens.
Older readers like to feel and smell the scent of pages. They're still buying hardcover books. But, if you're asking me to legitimize the quality of a book or if a book should have even been published, that's a different discussion.
As an author, I don't even know if I'm qualified to answer that question, because I'm going to be biased of course. But, if I was just to approach this logically, I'd probably use an analogy. For instance, most of us have been to the doctor. I've never asked a doctor to show me his or her medical credentials, but when I see the MD after their name, it implies that they are qualified in my mind. So, we feel a certain level of comfort allowing that doctor to perform tests on us and offer an assessment that can be life impacting.
When it comes to authors, I believe that most people make the same assumptions. If you're claiming the title, there are certain credentials you should possess that qualify you to write a book. If you went to a doctor and they told you they had an epiphany one day and decided to start providing medical care to individuals in need, I'm sure most of us would never give them any business.
So, if an individual decides one day that they are an author, what responsibility do they have to perfect their craft? What credentials do they need? Are they legitimate? Is their book legitimate? I don't know. But, if you care about your craft, you will strive to perfect your craft. If you love something, you don't dive into it haphazardly. You care for it. You respect it. You put the time in to do it well. I receive manuscripts from aspiring authors all the time, and most of them aren't good to me. That doesn't mean the book isn't legitimate. It also doesn't mean that the book isn't good. But, based off of what I perceive a good book to be, it just doesn't hit the mark.
Now my trash will be someone's treasure because "good" or "bad" is an individual assessment based off of what we've been exposed to. If someone has only read five books, every decent book they read will be classic. They haven't been exposed too much. And still in all, what's a classic to me may be a boring read to someone else.
This is an interesting time. In essence, it's the self-publishing era, because anyone can publish a book for little to no money at all. Unfortunately, there's no system of checks and balances...no quality control measures in place. However, there will be many more options for readers and an abundance of opportunities for new authors unlike any we've seen in the past.
My only fear is that unless more people start to care about the craft and look to expand upon the legacy of the great African-American authors who preceded and afforded us this opportunity, the self-publishing era may be perceived by many to be a self-publishing error. Only time will tell...