Posts Tagged 'standards'

The Death of Traditional Publishers? Part 7: OTHER Editorial Tasks & The Author’s Responsibility to Their Customers

Writers should already know that they cannot expect a publisher’s editor to extensively line-edit their works, as editors did decades ago. And we already know that a good number of traditionally published books – all of which were professionally edited and produced – aren’t of particularly high quality. E-pubs tend to drop the bar even lower, sad to say.

It makes me want to pitch books across the room. In my pre-Kindle days, I waited 6 months from release until a friend’s e-book went to print. POD print, that is. I paid WAY too much ($28) for a copy from Amazon, but I wanted to be supportive. When I read the book, I realized that I never want my name associated with that (large & successful) e-publisher. The plot was a copy of a best-seller and the editing was horrific.

My last blog guest made it perfectly clear that an author can not successfully edit their own work. So what’s a new author to do? ESPECIALLY a new author striking out on their own?

Let’s assume your manuscript is completed and you have combed through it many times already. You have critique partners – other writers – who have evaluated your plot and characters, plus their goals, motivations and conflicts. Your grammar, punctuation and spelling have been checked. You think it’s finally in good enough shape to put it “out there.” How can you get it ready for print?

The answer, in my humble opinion, is to:

1. Print 3-4 copies in the form the book will ultimately take.

I learned when publishing my “Primer for Beginning Authors” that it does no good to proof a book that is not in book form. Wasted effort.

2. Recruit a battery of beta-readers.

I ordered 4 copies of my debut novel – “A Woman of Choice” – and gave it to 4 friends to read. (They cost $5.05 each – comparable in cost to printing the 103,000-word manuscript at Office Max.)

When they found a mistake, they were to mark it, dog-ear the page, then keep going. Mistakes could take any form: typos, scene breaks that fell at an awkward spot on the page, action descriptions that didn’t make sense, etc.

When I got the books back, 25% of the pages had mistakes on them – in a manuscript that I thought was clean. And here’s the kicker: they all found DIFFERENT mistakes!

3. Do it again.

I tweaked the cover, adjusted lines on the pages so the scene breaks didn’t overlap the top or bottom of a page, fixed every skipped or repeated word, adjusted the font size to be more pleasing, clarified actions described.

Then I ordered 4 more copies. 4 different friends got the fixed copies.

And they came back with 10% of the pages dog-eared, marked with mistakes that were missed in the first round. And again, they all found different ones. *sigh*

4. Do it yet again.

Ditto on the changes. But this time I only ordered 2 copies. And they went to 2 different friends.

But I already spotted 2 mistakes myself. Really? REALLY??

5. Do it again, for hopefully the LAST time.

I have 2 more friends waiting in the wings for Round Four.

Does this process take time? Yes. Is it worth it? You bet it is! I don’t want my books to look shoddy either in print or on e-pub. I don’t want to give anyone reason to say, “You can totally tell she published this herself.”

I am setting about building a readership. I respect those who spend their money to take a chance on me and my stories. I want to give them the best experience possible, whether the book is electronically, independently or traditionally published. Even if they only paid $2.99 for the e-book.

Because I’m in this for the long haul.

And the long haul demands that I go the extra mile. That my books are extensively proofed. That I listen to critique. That I give 100% effort to creating a quality product.

I wish all publishers felt as strongly about this as I do. Then I could stop throwing books across the room.

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Authorpreneur Kris Tualla

www.KrisTualla.com

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