Self-Publishing Pet Peeves
I’ve recently been introduced to the self-publishing world—e-books to be exact. I knew that websites such as smashwords.com and lulu.com were out there, but I’d never actually downloaded a book that hadn’t been published by a brick and mortar publishing house—until recently. I am not encouraged by this trend.
Yes, self-publishing does make it possible for some great masterpieces to be published that might not otherwise see the light of day. It gives the author a bit more power to build an audience through electronic means, that makes his or her book more appealing to the publishing house whose main focus is to produce books that will sell. However, it also provides a way for authors to publish books that aren’t, well, good.
I have a few tips to writers who want to post things immediately to the Internet in their excitement for the world to see their work. These tips can also be applied to any published document, from blog posts and brochures to books and newsletters.
- Proofread (for the love of all that is punctuated properly). Now, I’m not expecting everything I read to be completely error free (even the best editor misses something occasionally, especially in a book of 60,000 words or more), but the errors should be few and far between. Proof your work.
- Pay an editor to look at your book. An experienced editor can help point out inconsistency and help provide valuable insight to developing the story and its characters. At the very least ask a friend to read what you’ve written to check for mistakes. They don’t have to be an editor to see that the main character’s name was changed for two pages halfway through the book. (Yes, I actually read a self-published book that did this.)
- Don’t plagiarise. I shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s not OK to take someone else’s work and repackage it under a new name. I’ve seen whole sections of books that were cut and pasted from another book. This is illegal and just plain wrong.
- Format the publication so the copy is easy to read. Choose a clear font, typically a serif font for print and a san serif font for electronic publications. Dark text on a light background is the easiest to read. That’s why most books are black type on white background.
Before I get hate mail from self-publishing authors, I must say that not all self-published books are horrible. There are several diamonds out there. I love finding those undiscovered gems, but self-publishing can be considered both a blessing and a curse. I guess we just have to take the good with the bad.