Self-publishers the world over are now looking up to John Locke, the first indie to break the Kindle million-seller mark, and Amanda Hocking, who moved from self-publishing to traditional publishing with a $2 million publishing deal with St. Martin Press.
These icons of the self-publishing and Indie world are the tree that hides the forest of self-publishers who never make a cent from their writings.
One of the biggest culprit for self-publishers’ failure is sloppy editing. A book is not a blog. A blog can get away with a modicum of faulty punctuation, typos, grammar mistakes, errors in formatting etc., and still be successful, as it is free, articles are short and readers know that bloggers are time strapped and have lower expectations from a blog than from a book.
When buying a book, a reader has the right to expect a finished and polished work and expects a comfortable reading where the eye conveys the story to the mind. Mistakes of any kind are a distraction and detracts from the pleasure of reading.
In the new age of peer reviewing, where book reviews can make or break authors, dispensing from hiring the services of a good editor is tantamount to literary suicide. Book reviews are deemed the single most efficient tool in book promotion. On Amazon, anything less than 4 stars will pull the book down in Amazon algorithms and reduce the book’s visibility.
Frankly, who would give a 4 or 5 star review to a book littered with mistakes?
Commenting on the bad name that self-publishers give to their trade by skipping the editing process, a January article in the Huffington Post quotes an anonymous letter sent by a group of successful traditionally published authors
PLEASE EDIT MY BOOK. Even if you know it will sell and get reviewed because of my name and my previous books, even though you recognize the many good qualities in the manuscript I have turned in, if you think it needs a serious revision, please, please, ask me to do it…Please do not let me go out in public this time with my slip showing and parsley on my tooth…And while we are on the subject, please employ a copy editor who understands the basic rules of grammar and has a working knowledge of the subject of the book sufficient to make useful and necessary changes in the manuscript instead of adding egregious errors while omitting to find crucial mistakes and typos. I love our nice expense account lunches, and I love you, but above all, I really, really want you to edit my book…”
This means no-one, not Shakespeare, not Mark Twain, and certainly not self-publishers should be conceited enough to think that they write flawless copies that should not be reviewed and edited by at least one external editor.
Yes, professional editing costs money. Yet, the time invested in writing the book also has value. For a writer who cares about his creation, sending his book out in the world without editing it is like sending their cherished daughter to the prom in her sweaty gym outfit.
What are her chances of becoming the prom queen if she did not even shower before showing up? So yes, one goes shopping for a dress before the prom, showers, and puts make up on, and styles hair and nails. None of this guarantee to land the crown, but it gives a fair fighting chance.
For a book, though the dress is the book cover, the editing is the shower, the make up, the perfume, the manicure-pedicure, and the hair styling.
Amazon’s shelves are the prom, so dress your book up before sending it there…