Monday, January 30, 2012
Posted by Gail Hart
In the last year or so, self-publishing - or indie publishing, as some prefer - has taken off exponentially. Thanks to the Kindle, Nook, and digital publishing, what used to be called "vanity publishing" is now a truly viable way for writers to earn a living from their work. Established authors are republishing their out-of-print back lists. New authors whose work doesn't appeal to New York because it's somehow too far outside the traditional box are finding readers, and an income. Readers are grabbing up books that are less expensive because there are fewer middle men.
Win-win? Maybe not totally. The indie revolution has its drawbacks. Many readers and writers are learning (or being reminded) that those nasty “gatekeepers” did perform a valid function in terms of maintaining quality. Without a publisher standing between her and the reader, the author is solely responsible for editing and proofreading. Many indie authors – including Writers Gone Wild Jenn, Maree, Robin and Saranna, who’ve taken the indie plunge – accept the responsibility that comes with the freedom of indie publishing. They’re making sure their self-published works are of professional quality, including the production values. But this is a self-imposed requirement. There’s nothing to stop a writer from offering total garbage for sale, and some are doing just that.
For example... in early December, I discovered that a multi-published author whose work I enjoy had self-published an old novella, and it was available for free (reduced from 99 cents). So I grabbed it up for my new Kindle. The results, from my posted review:
“This book is funny and sexy and exactly what readers of [the author’s trad published books] would expect from her. It's a quick, light, enjoyable read.
"However... this is also the kind of book that gives indie publishing a bad name! OMG, the typos, typos, and yet more typos! And this is the "second edition" - why didn't [the author] clean up the mistakes from the first edition? If I'd had to pay for this book, I'd be seriously annoyed.”
I kid you not, there was a typo on almost every page! Clearly the manuscript hadn’t been proofread, or even run through spellcheck. And two months later, I’m still pissed off. I can’t understand why the author, whose career I used to think of as one to copy, would allow her name to go on such a totally shoddy product. It feels like she disrespected her readers; like she believes we'll accept, and deserve, any old crap. And even though I know her traditionally published books will be edited, I feel more wary about buying them. She’s lost some of my trust.
Indie writers, what, if anything, do you do to make sure editing, proofreading, and formatting problems don’t diminish the quality of the reading experience? And readers, have you experienced quality problems with indie books?
at 7:42 AM