Self-publishing is nothing new: Proust, Joyce, Mark Twain, Zane Grey, Upton Sinclair, Carl Sandburg, Anais Nin did it… and the list goes on and on, and no one is going to dispute the worthiness of these giants in the world of writing.
What is different is the sheer magnitude and ease of producing a book in a digital universe that democratizes the process down to the lowest common denominator. Quantity over quality rules the day where equally weighted offerings crowd cyberspace in a Powerball cesspool pandering to the ‘you’ve gotta play ta win’ mentality. And unfortunately there have been some ‘big scores’ with truly unworthy ‘pop culture’ efforts. That makes the author’s job that much harder. Do you sink to the lowest common denominator in order to compete or do you hold out for a set of standards by which a jury of your peers can at least deem you worthy of a modicum of respect?
I’m going with respect … but then, I edit for a living.
If you are in any doubt about how poorly edited content can impact sales, read through the reviews on Amazon and see how many castigate the author for poor editing, to the tune of “I might have loved this story but I gave up” or “I’ll probably never read anything else…” In lieu of a $5M movie deal, I’d say that’s not really the legacy you wish to leave your heirs.
A book is a covenant between the author and the reader. It is a product for which someone pays out of discretionary funds. Don’t you owe that person the courtesy of creating the best product that you can provide? That means in addition to a ‘good story’, you construct a reading experience that does not yank the reader out of the story by assaulting the eye and the mind with trivial, inexcusable mistakes—mistakes that transcend simple typos: grammar, punctuation (that can seriously alter the meanings of sentences), misspellings and continuity (which can be the deal breaker in the author-reader relationship).
No matter how good you are at writing, I can almost guarantee you are not nearly good enough at editing. Why? Because your mind ‘fills in’ what you think is there. In effect it lies. And it happens to all of us. That’s why an investment in an editor is an investment in your future, an affirmation in your commitment to the craft and your obligation to provide your customers with a reading experience that is worthy of the story you wish to tell.
There are good editors out there who won’t break the piggybank. Try word-of-mouth and find someone you can work with.
Trust me … typing THE END is only the beginning.
Website: PubRight Manuscript Services: http://www.pubrightms.com/
Personal website: http://www.idancewithwords.com
Diane Nelson has thirty years’ experience in technical and fiction editing and four years’ with publishing across a variety of formats (print and digital). She is also an author with more than a dozen published fiction works.
As an editor she produced the well-reviewed The Prodigal’s Foole by R.B. Wood.