Sunday, October 24, 2010

Advice I'm Not Qualified to Give

I love this new digital age. I get to read some awesome books I would have otherwise probably never had a chance to read. Discover new talented authors. Don’t have to worry if my local bookstore has a copy of a new book I want. Maybe even save a little money, at least in the long run.

I’m also excited for authors. Now, more get to find an audience for their work, without having to fight just to get shelf space at the big bookstores. They get to have more control over the direction of their work, rather than be at the mercy of a publishing company. Authors get to interact with their readers via social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. And they don’t have to embark on grueling publicity tours to drum up sales; instead, they can do crazy things like Scott Nicholson’s 90 Day Blog Tour.

However, I would offer one small caveat to self-publishing authors: make sure you take the time to put out a quality product. Don’t be in such a hurry to get your book out there in front of readers that you skip basic steps in the “publishing” process.

You may be thinking, who does this guy think he is? What gives him any right to say anything to me about the publishing process? And you’d be correct; I don’t have any special qualifications that allow me to dish out advice to others about the publishing process.

But I am a reader; a consumer, if you will. I pay money to buy a product, and I hope that some care and concern were put into the creation of that product. And I am not talking about the story itself, or even the writing style. I know that what may appeal to others may not appeal to me, or vice versa.

However, there is one thing that I think should be fairly standard across the board. Typos, spelling errors, and consistency are things that should be addressed before a book is published. There is nothing that turns me off from a book faster than to find a bunch of errors, especially in just the first few pages.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect every error and inconsistency to be fixed before a book is published. That’s unrealistic, and there probably wouldn’t be very many books that would see the light of day if that was expected. However, in this new indie period, while I applaud the empowerment of the author, there is one major thing that most publishers offered the author that’s not there now: copyediting.

There are some simple things authors can do to help address this issue: have Beta readers read your book before publishing, get a copy editor or two look over your work, or get honest relatives or friends to read your book. But the key is having other people review your work. I’ve had the honor to copyedit some books in recent months, and based on my experience, it’s extremely difficult to spot all the errors in your own work. When you read over your own work, you tend to read over some errors because you know what you are trying to say in your own head. Heck, I’ll probably be fixing typos and errors in this blog post all week.

But if you take that little bit of extra time to get feedback about your work, I’ll pretty much guarantee that it will help you sell more books, whether it’s digital or print books. This is an exciting time for authors and readers alike. It would do everyone well to not get caught up in the excitement and rush to get books out there in front of readers, but instead take a little extra time, a couple of weeks or month, and make sure high-quality books are being published, at least from a technical standpoint.

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