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.