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Monday, March 28, 2011

Honor your readers

I received an email today from Smashwords. The ebook publisher is celebrating the 40,000th book that was entered into its catalog last week. It warms my heart to read about the success of this publisher. Smashwords' success means that a lot of self-published authors now have a voice. No more dependency on the big guys!

The dramatic rise in self-published books should mean that editors like myself are working overtime. Unfortunately that's not the case. Earlier this morning I was reading a few Amazon reviews of a particular self-published book. The following comments say it all:
  • "sad state of publishing"
  • "This book is the most appallingly written book ever--there are elementary spelling, grammatical and factual errors that any real publisher would have spotted straight away, on every page."
  • "cliched"  
  • "double spaced, big font, with new topics starting every couple of pages immediately following empty space" 
  • "Ugh. Get an editor."
  • "glaring typos"
  • "spelling and grammar errors were very distracting"
  • "The most glaring thing wrong with this book is the editing, or lack thereof! There were so many run-on sentences and sentences lacking correct punctuation that reading this book became a chore. I had to reread sentences because incorrect words were used. Seeing all the typos suggests to me that this author was only concerned with turning a quick buck."
  • "pass on this one"
  • "save your money"

You might sell your first book, but you won't get repeat business if you refuse to honor the reader. Your book has to be readable. The rules of grammar and editing exist for a reason. If there were no rules of the road, we'd all be crashing into one another. You can tell a poorly written book by the headache you get from reading one paragraph multiple times. 

Your book must be readable or people will save their money the next time you publish. I guess it could be argued that the market will weed out the bad stuff, but really, self-published books that haven't been edited or proofed give this entire industry a bad grade. 

I've heard every excuse in the book as to why writers won't invest in editing and proofing, most of which have to do with lack of funds. Then you must raise the funds. In fact, before you even begin writing, come up with a plan for how you will finance editing and proofing — as well as layout, design, printing, and marketing. 

Even the greatest writers must be edited, fact checked, and proofed.  

Honor your readers!

Donna Marie

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