Dear Indie Author,
First, I want to congratulate you on being brave enough to self-publish your own book! You did the work, built the world, fell in love with the characters, and probably stuck it out through rejections from agents and publishers. I commend you on your persistence and bravery.
With that being said…we really need to have a talk about something. This conversation has been coming for a while, and I promise to be as gentle as I know how to be.
Look, I might have only been in the book review business for a short time, but I’m a life-long reader. That means nearly three decades of voracious devouring of any (preferably fiction) work I could get my hands on. So, maybe growing up on professionally published novels put out by big publishing houses, has spoiled me. A lot of reviewers are in the same boat. And in addition to being a reviewer, I’m an indie author. I’ve made connections with other indie authors. I know how hard it is to get an agent, let alone a publisher, so I think it’s great that the current technology and climate allow for self-publication.
So what’s the problem?
The problem, to be blunt, is your editing. Or lack thereof, actually.
In spite of services like Nook Press and CreateSpace that allow ANYONE to publish a book, the gold standard is still traditionally—aka professionally—published work. As an indie author, if we want to have any hope of competing, we must produce work that at a minimum meets those standards. This means flawless editing and formatting.
What I’m finding as a reviewer is that far too many authors are not bothering to have their work edited…or even reread it themselves before publication. The Unholy Duo—missing words (usually articles) and using the wrong word (‘mist’ when they meant ‘midst’)—run-on/fragment sentences, and a host of other issues run rampant in a large percentage of the books I’ve read lately. In some cases, it’s so bad that I can’t figure out what the author is trying to say, even after multiple rereading of the same passage.
This infuriates me, and it makes me sad.
And it’s not just me; I can’t tell you how many Review Policies I’ve read while seeking reviews for my own work that specifically state the reviewer will either not accept requests from self-published authors, or if they do, the manuscript must be professionally edited.
Just as tools and programs for self-publishing have become more accessible, so have professional editing services. Sure, you have to pay for it, and not all of them are reasonable, but a little research will find you an editor that fits your particular needs. Laura Elliott, former agent for Samhain, offers her services for proofreading and editing at a reasonable rate. You can find her HERE. And you can learn more about my own services HERE.
[[I would like to add a note of caution—or maybe more like common sense; take a minute to read up on your chosen editor and don’t be afraid to ask for references. Just like there are scammers and hacks in every other industry, so they exist in the editing world. Just be smart, be cautious, and be diligent. The payoff is worth it.]]
Don’t want to deal with a real person? Then consider programs such as Grammarly, After the Deadline, Autocrit, ProWritingAid, and WordRake. (If you’d like an in-depth analysis of these programs, you can find it HERE.) These tools certainly don’t offer the personal touch of a living, breathing human, but they will help you weed out the worst of the issues. Also, most of these software options are less expensive/offer a free trial and can be quite thorough if used correctly.
In the end, whether you hire an editor, use software, or do it yourself, there is no excuse for publishing a manuscript as full of errors as an old pair of fishnet stockings is full of holes. Editing is arduous, time-consuming, and, honestly, an annoying process. But it is absolutely imperative if you want to compete with authors published through the big houses. So, please, please, please do yourself (and the rest of us!) a favor and EDIT YOUR WORK.
Best Wishes and Good Luck,
A Book Review Blogger
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ronelle Antoinette lives in western Colorado with her husband, two cats, and one dog-who-believes-he's-a-person. While she is a mother to none, she’s an auntie to what should qualify as a small army. She is an admitted caffeine addict, chocoholic, and hopeless romantic who has carried on a passionate affair with the genre of fantasy since she was old enough to read 'chapter books'. She dabbled in creative writing for many years and even considered it as a major in college. (She ended up getting a Bachelor's degree in Counseling Psychology.) She published her first novel, Errant Spark, in July of 2016.