Along with the ease of self-publishing came the ability to publish cheaply, and this may be one of the biggest problems with self-publishing today. Some of the disadvantages of getting a traditional publishing house contract are a loss of control and much lower royalties. The publisher chooses a cover they think will sell and they edit a book, including copy, line, and development editing. Even so, I have to say that not all traditionally published books are edited to perfection, or to the author’s satisfaction, despite the fact that the publisher uses professional editors.
Most self-published authors love the higher royalty percentage but often don’t want, or can’t afford, to hire the appropriate professional talent to make their book a quality product. I think it is accepted that in most cases an indie author simply can not properly edit their own work. Being so close to it, an author often sees what they think is there and not what is actually written on the page. Catching spelling mistakes is hard work (let’s hope I didn’t miss any in this blog), and in many cases, they fall in love with their own words. This makes it very hard to remove words, sentences, or even paragraphs that don’t add value to the story. Often a poetic line may be well-crafted and interesting but not appropriate for the particular book. It needs to go!
There are ways of mitigating the cost of editing. Some, such as using beta readers, are quite effective. But an indie author who chooses not to get help needs to know that the majority of books rejected by indieBRAG need a professional editing overhaul. The brutal fact is that to self-publish a high quality book, an author can’t have it both ways –getting higher royalties but not spending to have it professionally edited.
A hard but true fact. Editing costs, yes, but it should be seen as an investment in yourself rather than a cost. These days, the competition is so fierce, that poor products won’t make it to market.
That is a good point- investing in yourself. The competition is fierce and an author had better be sure they put out the best book possible. One of my favorite sayings is: You rarely get a second chance for a good first impression!
Most of the Indy writers I know through such organisations as Alliance of a Independent Authors certainly use professional editors and cover designers, as did I. We take the costs on as any professional publisher would, and wouldn’t dream of bringing out a product which is sub standard. It’s commonplace to cast these aspersions onto the independent publishing sector, but they are mostly untrue.
It is always shocking to authors who manage their book as a professional – and yes sometimes costly- endeavor. Thinking your book is well edited rather than knowing it is, are often two different things. You would be amazed at how many books come in with major spelling and grammatical errors right on the first couple of pages. I have known this to be true of traditionally published books also but, like it or not, it seems that self-published books are held to a higher standard. Readers of a poorly edited self-published book often conclude that self-published books are not up to traditionally published ones. Having said that, it is my opinion that it hurts an individual author more than the general self-publishing community. Readers are not likely to read a second book by this author while most readers rarely consider who publishes a book. Perhaps it is more the publishing community that throws around the comments that self-published books are inferior.