In the last few months I've come across suggestions on various forums about how self-published authors should come up with some kind of gatekeeper system. The latest suggestion was to pay a fee to a board to get a stamp of approval for your book. It wouldn't be mandatory, but would be like the Good Housekeeping Seal of approval. It wasn't unspecified as to who sits in judgement on that board, but possibly other self-published authors.
My thoughts on the subject are that this is just exchanging one gatekeeper for another. Why should I send my book to a board of peers who could have a vested interest in whether it receives the approval or not? What if someone on that board is ready to publish their own thriller? Wouldn't that be incentive to not grant approval of my book because their book, which would almost certainly gain approval since the author sits on the board, would be in the same genre as mine? I'm sure the board would claim no bias, but it would look very suspicious.
The fee is really worrisome. It smacks of buying approval. What if in five years, it costs $500 to get a book on the list to be read and approved or disapproved? Would the author of a book not approved get his money back? If he doesn't, he's going to be very upset, but if he does, couldn't that loss of money be a factor in a bad book receiving approval? I mean, what board is honest enough to withhold approval and return the money?
I wouldn't want to sit on a board like that in a million years, which brings up another question. Who would sit on it? All the authors I know are too busy writing to want to read through other manuscripts. It's lost time and we all know that time is money.
The main reason I think it's a bad idea is because I think readers are extremely capable of sifting the wheat from the chaff. First, there's the cover. A good book might have a bad cover, but I've yet to see a bad book have a good cover. (although I'm sure it happens.)
Then there is the blurb. A poorly written blurb is like a flashing neon sign saying, "The Interior of This Book is as Bad--Maybe Even WORSE--Than This Blurb!"
Readers are astute at picking up on that kind of thing, but let's just say that they decide to check out the interior. After all,t he book could still be good because we all know that trying to sum up our books in a few short sentences is skill that many writer's lack. It's a completely different skill set from writing a novel. So, the reader ignores the ugly cover and bad blurb, and takes a "Look Inside".
Horror of horrors! The book begins with the dreaded Wall O' Text, and is littered with grammar gaffes and misspelled words. At this point, only someone who is desperate for a book of that genre with that particular plot line, will go on to buy the book. Since most readers are too discerning, only a handful will buy it, which means that it will be in the also boughts of other books that are probably just as bad--I mean if the reader buys this book, it's likely they bought other bad books. So, now you have an also bought line-up of books that will likely NEVER enter into the also bought algorithm of the better written novels. If it does, by chance, it will quickly fall out. The few readers who may not have looked at the above mentioned clues very closely--maybe they were busy doing something else and their finger slipped--will leave a bad review, and there's the last clue.
Sure, a really driven author can market the snot out of a book, and possibly even finagle friends and relatives to leave great reviews, but readers have learned to sniff the deceptive reviews out. Six 5-Star reviews by people who have only reviewed that book, will be trumped by the regular reviewer who leaves a bad review.
Is it a perfect system? No, but I believe it's a better one than paying for a seal of approval.