A new author sent me this note the other day:
“At this point I am about ready to let it go out into the world warts and all. Since it is a collection of essays, I hope the reader will get the emotional impact of the book and forgive any editing bobbles.”
Increasing numbers of authors are putting books on the market with errors these days. Perhaps all the errors on the Internet are making people feel more lax about typos and grammatical and punctuation errors. Heck, we even frequently see typos on the major news stations’ news trailers on the screen. Don’t even get me started on the major news websites. However, just because ‘everybody is doing it’ doesn’t make it acceptable for an author to follow suit with their book. Even traditionally published books have a couple or a few errors…but many self-published books have so many they leave readers shaking their heads with frustration, and feeling they’ve been ripped off by an amateur (an amateur author AND an amateur publisher).
Do I make mistakes? Heck yeah but, when somebody points out a mistake, I fix it. The “it’s-good-enough” authors often leave the mistakes because it’s “just too much trouble” to go back and fix them.
Sadly, these “it’s-good-enough” authors get very agitated, and sometimes downright furious, when I tell them we can’t publish their book in its current state. Many POD publishers don’t screen manuscripts and put anything and everything on the market, complete with the errors. We’ve rejected countless books that contained hundreds or more errors and many of those are now on the market anyway, riddled with those same errors, and published by other POD publishers that obviously only care about how much money they can get out of authors, not about their own reputation, the reputations of their authors, or the quality of their book inventory. You can bet if someone buys a book from a publisher that is is full of errors, they won’t be buying from that publisher again in the future. Since those publishers rely more on authors for their income than anything else, they don’t seem to care about how many book buyers they have. They only appear to care about how many authors they can squeeze through their door. (At BookLocker.com, the majority of our revenues come from public book sales.)
Some POD publishers force authors to pay them to have their books edited just to get more money out of the author. Others even force authors of previously edited books to pay the publisher to have their book edited all over again. Sadly, sometimes the publisher’s editor inserts even more errors into the book during the process. I’ve even heard of a couple who point out errors to authors that aren’t errors at all, just to try to get editing dollars out of the author. Many POD publishers even claim ownership of the edited version of the manuscript – the production file – and won’t give a copy to the author if they want to have their book published elsewhere at a later date or if they want to offer that book for sale elsewhere, even the ebook version. (At Booklocker.com, we don’t offer in-house editing services so we have no incentive at all to upsell authors on editing services. If a book has errors, I’ll let the author know they need a professional editor.)
But, back to the topic of this article. No, “it’s good enough” is not good enough. If you put a book on the market with errors, you WILL hear from readers and it will be terribly embarrassing. Some authors are so embarrassed they falsely blame the publisher for their own mistakes. The publisher’s reputation is then tarnished as well. POD publishers without quality standards get few repeat customers. Authors without quality standards aren’t relying on other authors for the majority of their income. They can only rely on book readers. If they disappoint those readers by publishing a book riddled with errors, that author will inevitably fail…and be humiliated during the process as well.
Angela Hoy is the co-owner of WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker. WritersWeekly.com is the free marketing ezine for writers that features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is one of the top-rated POD publishers in the industry.