Totally Off Topic

This has been bothering me for quite some time but today it finally just reached my boiling point. So, what else to do about it but write a blog.

I am an avid reader, although not nearly as much as of late with all the demands of my personal life. But I do read an awful lot of books. I read mainstream books AND I read tons of indie authors. Ever since I discovered the world of indie publishing, I have enriched my life by reading from so many different authors.

I have spent more money on books than I care to add up. Most are worth every penny. I’m always amazed at the prices of books and think that the emphasis on cheaper and cheaper isn’t a good thing. Even books I receive as ARCs to review, I still purchase to support the author. Does my $2.99 make a huge difference to them? Probably not. But if everyone would purchase all the books they read, it would have an impact. Thus far, I have had two free days for one of my books. Did it net me even one review? Nope, not a single review. I haven’t sold tons and tons of books, but it hasn’t been pathetic either. I have already made the decision that my next publication will be a higher price point. I’m certainly not in this to quit my job and write full time, but my talent should still be valued.

Okay, I have digressed from the intent of my original thought of indie authors and editing and proofreading. As I said, I read a lot of books by indie authors. I also see typos in books – but I see those in both big name published authors and indie authors. The beauty of indie publishing is that I can shoot an email to an author if I find a typo and they can fix it.

But today I saw the cover for a book by an indie author. This author is one I have read before. The book I read was poorly written and I couldn’t even review it without being a bit cruel. This author has since blogged that they had their book edited professionally – I have not gone back to see if it helped it enough that I would review it. Today though, there was a book being promoted by this same author. I didn’t need to read the book – or even the entire back cover – to realize that I could not read it. When your cover has a blatant typo/misspelling on it, how can I expect the inside to look? It may be a great concept and story, but I just can’t get past too many mistakes.

Call me what you like, but I really am the best supporter of indie authors you will find. Just don’t publish something that is not ready to be published. And, if your blog is always full of typos or wrong words are used, please don’t expect me to a) promote your work and b) to purchase your work.

But I want to praise all of the authors who spend a lot of time editing their magnificent imaginations. You keep me entertained for hours and days on end and I will always support you and promote you.

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29 thoughts on “Totally Off Topic

    • Pamela and Ionia: I can’t tell you how much I agree with you. And, as someone who’s with a micro press, I can also understand (to a point) why authors fear utilizing anyone for anything. (I’m not one of them, though I’ve just been severely burned by a “professional”, and it isn’t the first time I’ve had someone in the literary world rape-and-pillage my bank account.) When someone comes forward and says they take money to edit, to do book publicity, whatever, we have the right to expect that they actually know how to do those things, and that they will actually DO them. And here’s what I’ve found: Most of them DON’T do anything to provide value. I end up going over every book a thousand-thousand times, even after it’s been edited, and I find mistake after mistake after mistake. (This was the case whether someone made $5,000 to edit my first unpublished novel, $3,500 to edit TLF, or $800 to edit Not Without My Father. Price didn’t yield quality.) Until I fired my first publicist, I did 99% of the work and paid her practically everything I made. (I have a new one now, and I’m very impressed so far.) It’s such a trial-and-error business to find talented people who do what they say they will do. That isn’t unique to the book world. It happens everywhere. I continue to hope for the day when the people who do the work, who do their best, who care about quality, will reach the top. And, as soon as I figure out that formula, I’m not publishing a book or writing blog posts about it. Doing what everyone else is doing yields the same outcome everyone else has. But I can damn well guarantee I’ll share that formula personally with the people who helped me get there. Like you.

      Very sorry I wrote a ranting comment that’s longer than your post. I’m tying up loose ends with an old provider of services and continue to be staggered.

      • I am so.sorry you went through that. I started out as an assistant editor for a major company. I will be nice and not say which one. I was told that I was wasting too much time editing each project and literally “the mid and low lost authors I worked with didn’t matter.” This seems to be the mentality. Who cares about the finished project. Who cares what the consumer gets. Get it out there and get it sold. I find huge mistakes in the books from this publisher still, even after so many changes have been made to the industry as a whole. Indie authors should arrive to put out the best material they can and show a good example of their work with every book to erase the stigma that surrounds us already. Feel free to giggle at my errors in this comment since I’m typing on my phone whilst riding in the car.

      • I wouldn’t say ‘scamming.’ We writers want to get our work out there, and we’re not always sure what will work and what won’t. I’ve approached it from two decades running professional businesses, and I think that’s what’s hardest for me……..I treat everyone I meet like they’re professionals, until they prove otherwise. Then, I struggle with how to extricate myself in a professional manner. Having just been through that (again), it’s very raw. But I’m learning. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn. 🙂

      • Are you serious? $5,000? I would have rewritten that book for you as many times as you wanted, and absolutely guaranteed you would have had no grammatical, spelling, typographical or stylistic errors. Was it 10,000 words or what?

        But for both editing and publicity, author input is key. I am sure the authors I work with are sick of my emails, asking to rewrite certain parts, saying there are too many repetitive words, questioning what something means. On the bright side, I don’t bother them with fixing the basics. Thousands though? I wish.

        The issue about publicity and promotion is that it needs to be done in advance, well planned and prepared and it needs the author’s involvement. There are no two ways around that. An author isn’t just selling a book, they are selling a persona, an image, whatever you want to call it.

      • It was 80K words, and I was preparing it for submission to agents.

        I’ve done my own PR for most of my professional career (not as a writer). Yes, strategy and planning are absolutely key to execution. I hired the wrong person to help me the first time, but she came highly recommended from a publicist with New York Times Bestselling Author clients. I’ve gone in a totally different direction on my second attempt. We’ll see how that plays out in the coming months.

  1. Valid point in this post, if the cover has misspellings/typos and this is the first thing that one sees, what are you supposed to expect from the rest of the book. This just seems like publishing 101 to me. Great post Pamela.

  2. Great post Pamela. It would be great if indies had a mind-set to show up the big houses and produce quality even better than what you will find at the larger publishing houses. Like you mentioned, there is no excuse, you can fix problems after-the -fact and I know some indie authors whom I have personally given lists of typos to who did NOTHING to correct errors. It’s bewildering.

    And Andra, that’s just so sad. There seems to be an entire industry around scamming writers regardless of how they publish.

    I confess that my blog posts have the occasional error because I don’t always proof them. But I have read posts of people who have published a dozen books that are riddled with blaring errors. I can only imagine what their books read like.

    Pamela, you should set your prices to reflect the quality that you offer.

  3. This is a great post Pamela and like the other commentors, I wholeheartedly agree. I think we can all make allowances for errors because we know how easy it is for them to creep in – but I do think that it is imperative that the cover be correct. I also firmly believe that editing is key but it is so sad that it costs so much and as pointed out above, there is still no guarantee that you are going to get what you pay for. Thank you so much for writing this post. 🙂

  4. Great post! I also like to help indie authors, but if I see a typo in the cover or book summary, I tend to pass on it. I’ve read some indie books that were error-free as far as I could tell and if they can do it, others can also take the time to make their work look professional.

  5. Reblogged this on chrismcmullen and commented:
    A great reminder about the effects of typos from an avid reader and strong supporter of indie authors. We crave to hear what readers have to say and how they react to various aspects of writing. Here’s a chance to do just that.

  6. A very good blog post, and while you may have been sidetracked briefly when talking about pricing and buying books, you are right on the money (so to speak) in that all these free books or cheap books give the impression that there is no value to our work. Thank you for continuing to buy books even after you’ve received a free copy! I believe that too many authors have become caught up in the “numbers” of copies sold/given away that they completely forget to consider the response their books do receive after they’ve been read. What’s the point of offering a book free or at .99 cents when no one in the end enjoys reading it? Consequently, if you’ve written a very good book that receives great reviews, why cheapen the hard work you’ve put into that book by offering it for free. (I do give away copies of my own print and eBooks, but it is my choice who they go to as gifts or for review consideration, but they otherwise still remain for sale at full price all the time.)

  7. I’m so glad to see this post. I’ve never read this blog before, but this makes me want to read more. So many otherwise excellent books contain annoying typos. I’ve been left with the impression that no one cares any more, so I’m happy to be proved wrong. I also found several typos in my novel after it was edited, and my husband found even more.

  8. I’m with you every step of the way. I recently reached boiling point as well and had to write about punctuation when it comes to decades. One can’t guarantee, of course, that the right people read it! I’ll move swiftly on if there are typos or an incomplete grasp of the basics (all too frequent), whether it’s a book, a blog post or any piece of written material. We all make mistakes but there are limits!

  9. Excellent post. A publisher I know says many writers are bad spellers. That alone should encourage us to get our stuff edited. Even when I think I’m not making typos, I sometimes find that I am.

  10. What a great post, Pamela. And timely, too. Even a writer who is going to give their book for free should understand that it needs to be final edited– and not by the writer. Very, very few novelist make money by writing one novel and it is important to give a reader something that will bring them back to you as an author. I also read lots of indie authors and many write well, tell a great story and are well worth the price of the book. But others put out a first draft and expect readers to overlook all the errors. Well, except for best friends, they won’t. And they hurt all the authors who put in the time and commitment to produce a well written, well edited story.

  11. Great post, Pamela. I believe, as authors, we all try to erradicate errors, but sometimes gremlins creep in. My spellcheck, for instance, has an aversion to apostrophes and encourages me to remove them from my work! Horrors! Fortunately, I understand when to use apostrophes, but I’m sure that many authors don’t.

    I’m a first-time reader, too. But I’m bookmarking this.

  12. That’s why it’s so important to do research before choosing an editor. Mine came with reliable references; she edited my friend’s books, and that friend is now a top Amazon bestseller. I’m sad for the indies who just go with the first person who says “I’m an editor!” and gives them their trust when they shouldn’t. Technically they can say “I had my book edited!” but so many editors are scamming authors 😦

    Also important: use multiple beta readers in addition to a good editor!

  13. Typos drive me crazy. Errors that shouldn’t be made by an 8 year old displays a lack of interest in turning out a solid product. (and as I’m in a hurry, please excuse the ones bound to be in here – it’s comment, not a published piece…we know the difference, so many do not seem to …)
    Sad the publishing industry apparently shrugs at imperfections. (Life in general – from news media to products you buy – seems to be in the same state. Why bother with doing it right? Something new will come along in a moment and replace that old thing). Editing services seem to have become simply as way to make money with no regard for respecting the piece, the author, – or the job. Many not qualified convincing authors they are?
    Perhaps the only hope if for writers to cling together and assist each other not expecting much expertise from “experts”?
    Whole publishing mess give me the shivers.
    Oh, and please. Give the “free” book readers a little time. Don’t get discouraged. Better a thoughtful review at the best time (like before Christmas buying season for actual print versions). Life is busy. But realize in any industry in this era, free samples are more “expected” by the public who seems to feel little need to acknowledge or reciprocate as they should. Attitudes have changed so much
    Roughseas is right about book promotion. People buy from people they know and people they like. Basic sales info. Marketing is a whole different ball game. Keep swinging and hang in there.

  14. I agree that time and patience is required in editing and ensuring a book is the best it can possibly be before it is unleashed on our readers. Recently I had to inform a friend that her published novel had numerous typos, misspellings and continuity issues. This book was published not through her own efforts but through a publisher! This is worrying to say the least – what was the company’s editor doing – or not doing? Deadlines can make us rush but in the end a poorly edited story will reflect badly on us. So take the time to edit and make a new deadline!

  15. Great post. The same thing happens to me – just had a big free weekend, no reviews. Not sure why. Even when I download something for free I make sure to give it a review – even if it is just one line. I know it helps authors like myself, so that’s why I do it.

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