Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Downside to Self-Publishing: Capitalizing on a Crisis

We all know that finding reliable information on the Net can be challenging. Look up a topic and you’ll find thousands of hits but only a fraction of them will contain solid information. The same has been true in the self-publishing world for a while now. The Ebola crisis, for example, has prompted far too many fear-mongering, so-called experts without medical or related scientific backgrounds to make big bucks by giving horrible advice to readers, advice that could prove deadly.

According to a recent Washington Post article, no less than 84 books on Ebola have been self-published in the last three months, and it appears that most of those people have no credentials. One of the top-selling books apparently opens with a quote from the Bible, indicating that the end of the world is coming. One bestselling survival guide maintains that 4.1 billion people could die over the next two years. Another author states that Ebola can be prevented with vitamins. Unfortunately, many people believe this nonsense.

Since Amazon doesn’t censor these types of books, it’s up to the public to determine their validity, and remember to take the reviews with a grain of salt. By learning facts from the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders, for instance, and using some common sense, it isn’t difficult to spot the garbage books. Critics despise self-published novels for terrible editing, etc., but the more dire problem is that bad information in nonfiction could cost lives.

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