Self-publishing – a wonderful thing and a terrible thing

August 17, 2015 at 12:29 pm

It is becoming more and more difficult for authors to get their books to a traditional publisher, especially if they don’t have an agent. And even if they do submit to a traditional publisher, so few are taking risks on them.

So it’s not surprising that many authors are turning to self-publishing, especially as costs, particularly when only producing an e-book, are so low and the return on an author’s hard work can be immediate and gratifying.

That’s the wonderful thing about the self-publishing phenomenon. Not only do you retain full control over your product, but you can get it to the public in the blink of an eye, it seems. And everything comes back to you – all the profits, all the accolades and all the good reviews.

However, this has had an unfortunate side effect. For the terrible thing about self-publishing is that people are often in such a hurry to get their book to consumers they don’t take the proper care to get it right before it’s published.

The first year I was involved in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) I remember clearly a girl who I encountered there. Having finished her draft of 50,000 words, she said, ‘Great! Now to upload it to Smashwords!’

Wait a minute,  it’s only the first draft! The story might not work properly yet. What about all the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors that you probably didn’t even realise you were typing? She was so quick at getting it up there I wondered if she’d even read it through once herself.

This is one of the most frustrating things for me when reading a self-published book, especially as I’m a professional editor. I encounter a huge number of books that have clearly not even been proofread properly, much less had their stories checked for inconsistencies and plot problems.

This is why there are still numerous doors shut to self-publishers. They have developed a reputation for being cheap, and it’s such a shame for those self-publishers who do take the care to get it right but are still tarred with the same brush.

However, there are signs that things are changing, with some reviewers, events and even bookstores welcoming self-published books, but there are still a lot that resist them because of the regularly poor quality that is seen on their pages.

It is equally frustrating for me because I know a good professional editor could sweep away most, if not all, of these problems. Of course, as with anything else, there are professional editors who haven’t the faintest idea what they’re doing and are happy to take you for a ride and hand you a poor quality edit, but there are also plenty out there, often reasonably priced, who could make the difference between your book crashing and burning, and being admired and well received by a public forever looking for the next Big Thing.

So if you are thinking of self-publishing, please don’t race into it. Take your time. Find a good professional editor and a good proofreader. Hire a graphic designer to help you with the cover. Check over their work when you receive it to look for problems. Take every step you can to ensure your book is as good as it can be. Although many readers will take the chance on a new author, not many will come back and try you again if your first book let them down. Don’t make that mistake. Get it right the first time.

To find out more about my editing service visit my editing page here.

Are you an author? Have you had a bad experience with one of your books when self-publishing? Are you a reader? Have you read a book which left you shaking your head because it was riddled with mistakes? Let me know in the comments.


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