Before You Start Self-Publishing

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on September 29, 2015 in Publishing |

There was a time, not so long ago, when I thought it could be worthwhile concentrating on self-published books; reviewing what is available; getting to know new authors; seeing how things are done. It was one of my many experiments, not one which I regret, but one which certainly opened my eyes to the hidden world of those who believe their books must be published no matter what.

It was clear to me, as I held some of these books in my hands, that publishing for money may well have been the intention, but would never be the result. Authors who had written their hearts out, and then sent the manuscripts off to a printer, or a vanity press (sadly) or just uploaded them to somewhere or other and considered it all done. It is true that there are many advantages to self-publishing but also, especially for the reader, many disadvantages. One of them is the work offered in its final form.

Self Publishing Errors

Screenshot Source: Just Publishing / Twitter

Anyone can write. Whether they can write well, whether they will be able to capture an audience is another matter entirely. Not everyone, however, can prepare a book for publication. Many seem, at least from the works that I read, to have written, packaged and published. That is, they missed out one of the most important aspects of publishing: proofreading.

As the copied Tweet from Just Publishing so amply illustrates, writing and sending is not all that there is. We all make mistakes, we all have our off days, we all miss out on some little aspect which could be better. Spelling mistakes, editorial errors, badly laid out works, I’ve seen them all. For the reader, and especially the reviewer, a very frustrating aspect: should the mistakes, especially when there are many, be mentioned in a review? When there are too many, when the story gets lost because the reader has to struggle, most certainly. Spelling errors detract from any form of writing, from the simplest letter to the most complicated thesis. They shouldn’t be there, just as grammatical errors and all those other things which an editor or proofreader should pick out shouldn’t be there.

There are more than ten good reasons to self-publish, but there are an equal number of reasons not to publish right away, to wait, to edit and work through a manuscript before hitting the send button. The first impression, from someone who has paid out good money to get the work, will decide whether this reader will buy the next work, whether it will be a success at all. And, of course, the story needs to be good, but a good story will be ruined by the simplest of errors.

Don’t just write and publish. If you’re going to do it, and any one can, then take your time and do it right.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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  • This is a very fair point, but unfortunately it can also be addressed to any major publishing house. I have lost count of the number of mainstream novels that feature spelling errors, repeat sentences, incomprehensible syntax and random changes in tense and person. Quite how all this gets past both editors and proofreaders is beyond me, but it does indicate that those who control which books we actually get to read don’t really give a damn. Certainly, it makes me much more tolerant of self-publishing errors – at least they have an excuse.

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