Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Self-Publishing: What Does It Mean To You?

I just finished reading 4 YA books on my Kindle. I'm not going to reveal the names or the authors, because this is not a review. After I finished the 4th book, I went back to Amazon to find out who the publishers were. Each one of those books was published by the author.

Now, I don't have anything against self-publishing. I won't ever do it, but for reasons that probably most people don't have. What I do have something against is books that are poorly written and are still published.

Each of these books had all kinds of errors in them. Many punctuation errors, but I suppose that could be some kind of formatting glitch. From what I've read and heard, each self-publishing company has a specific format they want, and often a Word document doesn't lend itself easily to those formats.

But grammatical errors are not part of a formatting problem. A plot that rambles on and never seems to go in a specific direction; so many characters, each poorly developed, that some are superfluous; a lot of descriptive narration that is unnecessary for the most part...all of these are simply poorly written and poorly developed elements of a story. Only one of these stories actually held my interest all the way through. The other three I read to the end only because I spent good money for them and I refused to quit reading before I had gotten my money's worth. Only I still didn't. Get my money's worth, that is.

My question to you 'out there' is: why do some writers insist upon self-publishing? I understand that there are all kinds of options to do so these days, and that self-publishing doesn't have the stigma that it used to in the writing community. But why would any writer want to have a book published that contains all kinds of errors?

I know several writers who have published their books through Amazon and other publishing options. I know when I talked to them, they assured me they had "editors" go over their manuscripts, and they were totally proof-read, approved, and polished. Yet, one of the books I bought was from one of these particular writers. If she had an editor, it must have been a friend who knew nothing about writing. Granted, this was more of an adult book than a YA, or I guess you could call it a "crossover." But what difference does that make, if there are still errors in grammar and punctuation, and the story elements are not well written?

Stigma or not, I have yet to read a self-published book that I would recommend to someone else, or that I think is worthy of having been published. Don't misunderstand me, some of these books have great plots and even great characters. But when you are wading through grammatical errors, or you have page after page of  metaphors and analogies that don't even make good sense, then what is really good about the novel gets completely lost. And, lest I have to dodge some rocks about now, it is VERY possible that I just haven't read a really good self-published book.

 I don't really understand why someone is so anxious to get their story "out there" that they are willing to forego all the editing, revising, more editing, more revising, and then polishing to a shine before they go to the time, trouble, AND money to publish the book themselves.

I believe that ALL writers, no matter which publishing option they take, take pride in their work. We all work hard. We all make sacrifices in order to have the time to write. When we have families, we all give up certain things relating to our families in order to write.  So it's not that I think self-published authors DO NOT go through all the things the rest of us go through.  Umm...sorry about the double negative.

Self-published authors  work just as hard, make just as many sacrifices, have just as many trials and tribulations as all of the rest of us. So why does that same author settle for something less than what he or she is capable of? Why is she or he willing to publish a book that has so obviously NOT seen a capable critique group, a knowledgeable beta reader, or a professional editor?

I don't understand. Do you? I hope that's not a rhetorical question.

Until next time,
That's a wrap.


  1. You make good points, Mikki. I still think that for some, self publishing is the best way for them to fulfill their dreams. It doesn't mean I want to go that way--I do not. I know that in this day any writer has to do a lot of marketing, but I hope to not be responsible for ALL of it. Self publishing just wouldn't be for me.

    1. I don't have one single thing against self-publishing. I think for those who have the time, money, energy, and most of all, the marketing connections, then for them it's great. I don't have any of those..especially the energy!..so it's not for me either. I just wish those who do go that route would take enough pride in their work to make sure it was as acceptable to a self-publisher as it would be to one of the Big Six publishers. Sometimes you get so caught up in what's wrong with the book, that you overlook what is right with it.

  2. Mikki,

    I don't have anything against self-publishing either... as long as it's done well. But like you, I've yet to read one that was done well. However, to be fair, I've also read some books published by authentic publishers that had me scratching my head wondering how the heck it got published! I've also seen some books published by publishers that had tons of grammatical and spelling errors, which drive me nuts.
    I do understand the need and desire to get a book published and why some people opt to take the self-publishing route. Perhaps they don't think they can take the "rejection" process so they take the sure way out. I may have done that myself if I'd never found a publisher. But you can rest assured that I still would have gone through a critique group and got it professionally edited before I would have ever produced a finished product. I wish more self-published authors would do that as well. After all, that's why self-published authors get such a bad wrap. Not enough of them go the extra mile to make their books really good.
    Although myself I havent come across a really good written self-published book, I know they are out there so kudo's to them. It's not an easy process no matter what route taken.

    1. It is extremely hard today to get a manuscript into the hands of an agent or editor with one of the Big Six and any of their subsideraries. I think that has a lot to do with so many writers going the self-publishing route. And there's nothing wrong with that, but it takes more than the desire to have your book 'out there' to make a successful author. Those writers who don't make the commitment or take the time and money to hire a professional editor before they sefl-publish are self-defeating.

      I've just read another book that didn't end, it just stopped. Literally. I finshed a page, turned the page, and it was an ad for another book, not even a sequel to the one I was reading. I couldn't believe it. There was no ending, no finish, no nothing. The story just stopped. My Kindle said I was only 85% through the book, but there was no more 15%. Nothing on earth could convince me to buy or even read for free another one of this author's books!

  3. Having gone through the full editing process for Touch of Death, I can tell you my book was in so many hands! And I'm thankful for that. I want lots of eyes on it making sure there aren't typos and such. I think a lot of people who self-publish don't want to spend the money on a good editor, but it's so important if you want to be taken seriously. Even an editor can't edit his/her own work because they are too close to it.

    1. But you've done all of the above because you ARE a serious author and deserved to be seen as such. The authors of the books I've been reading on my KIndle can't possibly consider themselves "serious." At least, not in my opinion, but I'm sure they do. I'm now about 1/3 of the way through a book written by someone who is highly respected by ICL, yet it is also one that is not well-written, and it spends so much time "telling" the reader everything, that I'm not going to finish it. It also doesn't have a very engaging plot.

      I have been wondering if these books are by writers who think teens and middle graders don't know or care if the story is well-written, so they don't bother with editors. But when the story doesn't make sense, doesn't hang together, and ends so abruptly without a real finish to the story, kids ARE going to know that, and not like it. And if they don't like that one story, they're not likely to waste time on another by the same author.