A few days ago, I finished reading a novel.
(Ooh! Alert the media!)
(Shut up. I haven’t gotten to the point, yet.)
I’m not going to identify the novel or the author. What I will say is that this was a self-published novel on Kindle, written by someone who has published multiple books with major publishers in the past, and whose past books I very much enjoyed.
And I really enjoyed this book. It is, in fact, one of his best. In terms of actual content, anyway.
Formatting-wise, though? Error-wise? A disaster of brobdingnagian proportions.
Entire paragraphs were improperly centered/indented, on an average of more often than once every ten pages. (Well, “screens.”) Typos–of either the “this is spelled right but it’s the wrong word” or of the “there’s a word obviously missing here”–were as copious as gratuitous topless shots in a horror movie remake.
And this is not normal for the author in question, based on his past works. All I can figure is that, since the book was self-published, he didn’t employ an editor.
I’m sorry, guys, but that is not acceptable. Sure, things like typos and formatting don’t matter to a lot of readers–but to a lot of us, they do. No, this one badly edited book won’t keep me from buying future books of his. But if the trend continues? Yeah, it could eventually reach the point where I’d stop.
Self-publishing is in a transition period right now. It’s becoming ever more common. Lots of professional writers are choosing to go that route. But it’s still also looked down upon by a large portion of the market.
If self-publishers want that to stop, if they want the same respect as authors who go through a publisher, they must–must–come across as just as professional. And that means that a self-published novel must go through all the same quality assurance steps as traditionally published novels.
Not “some.” All.
You need editors. Yes, plural. A content editor and a proofreader/copy editor. They’re not the same thing. You need professional cover art. You need decent layout. And yes, that means sinking some funds into the book and paying for all of this.
I don’t care if you’ve been writing for 50 years. I don’t care if you’re a prodigy. I don’t care if you’re a Rowling, or a Martin, or a King. I don’t care if you’re Tolkien or Howard returned from the grave. (Well, actually, I do–a lot–but for different reasons.) No matter who you are, you are not an exception.
Your work needs editing. Period. So does mine. So does everyone else’s. It’s just part of the process, and it’s neither optional nor negotiable.
You want to be a pro? You want people to treat you as a pro, and the burgeoning field of modern self-publishing as a professional one? Act it. Be meticulous. Be willing to shell out some dollars at the start. And get it right.