Up until now I have perceived the field of self-publishing as a different way of getting published; a field that is just as valid as traditional publishing — a valid road to take if you want to see your own work in print, especially if you don’t want to go through the commercial traditional “hassle” of finding first an agent, then a publisher, etc. Was I right in thinking this?
After having finally read a book that is self-published, I have come to realise that self-publishing may not be the right road for me to take; at least not at this point in my (non-existent) writing career.
What brought me to this revelation? Well, like I said, I am currently reading a book that was self-published. I have noticed that is has quite a few typographical errors spread throughout it. These errors are are not making the narration incomprehensible, but they do affect the way I am perceiving this work of fiction.
The errors make the book come across as amateuristic: as if it has not been edited and that it’s the first draft that went straight to print; it’s like several crucial steps in the publishing process have been altogether skipped, as if this whole project was rushed. The book probably was edited, maybe even several times (I know how many times I go through my own writing, I can imagine that the author has gone through his writing several times as well), but not by a professional copy editor – or if it has, then this person simply didn’t do his/her job well enough.
The content and premise for this book is actually pretty good, as it touches an intriguing subject that I have never come across before in science fiction. Nevertheless, a printed edition of a self-published book like this one does contribute to the bad quality reputation that self-published books have. It doesn’t have to be like that. A self-published book can, and should, live up to the same standards and quality that traditionally published books do, but it seems to me that it does require a lot more effort from the author who decides to publish this way. Proper editing simply cannot be ignored, even if it means investing in the services and skills of a professional copy editor if you cannot do it yourself.
For imagine this:
You have written a story that finally gets to see the light of day. Would you really wan tot risk seeing it full of errors once it’s in print, after all the (hard) work and countless hours, maybe even years, that you have spent creating it? Wouldn’t you rather have it as perfect as it could possibly be? Would you really sacrifice professionalism and credibility and publish it yourself, because you were feeling insecure and were harbouring the “fear” that if you don’t self-publish your book then nobody else will? For let’s be honest here for a second: there are authors that chose to be self-publish simply because they have lost faith in traditional publishing and don’t want to go through the processes of submitting and being rejected (again). That is to some extent understandable, but one should never give up in my opinion.
I personally don’t want to make that sacrifice. At this point in my life I’d prefer not to publish rather than publish something that would come across as mediocre at best. After all the rejection blunders that the publishing industry has seen I honestly don’t think that a good book will stay unpublished for very long.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that everything that is self-published is rubbish (I’m actually enjoying the book that I’m currently reading). What I’m saying is that once the self-publishing road is taken, then you have to make darn sure that you know what you are doing and that you are ready to take full ownership of the process,even if that means paying professionals to take over where your own skills are not enough. You have to be sure that you can vouch for the quality of what you are doing. You must be sure that no step is skipped and that the process is as professional as it can possibly be, especially if you want to be taken seriously as an author.
Am I being a picky primadonna for wanting my story to go through the traditional channels?