Stop Spoiling Self-Publishing!

I almost started this post with an expletive but changed my mind because I want to keep my PG rating. However, I’m starting to get really fu.. annoyed.

Over the past few months I’ve found myself giving up on many novels downloaded onto my Kindle. And that’s not like me. In the past it was extremely rare that I didn’t get to the end of a book.

And it’s not just me. A friend got her first Kindle for Christmas and recently posted on Facebook asking where she can find good free books because ‘there’s a lot of dross out there’.

Sadly, the problem is getting worse. Too many wannabe indie authors are self-publishing without properly checking their books are fit for release – and the danger is that they’re driving potential indie readers back to the ‘safety’ of corporate publishing.

That’s not to say all mainstream novels are perfect. I recently read Ken Follett’s Winter Of The World and spotted a couple of bad edits.

However. There are limits and mine are being stretched to breaking point. As an indie author myself I want to support fellow writers and I regularly download books that are on promotion. But – although I have found a few gems – I seem to increasingly be rolling my eyes and pressing ‘delete’ before I’ve read more than a few chapters.

I don’t think books have to be error free. I can cope with a few tpyos or strange stylistic quirks. But when the typos are coming every page and are coupled with bad grammar and continuity errors I draw the line.

Last night I gave up on a crime novel when one of the main characters switched from third person to first person and back. (This was the straw that broke my patience not a lone mistake).

Sometime the errors are easy to understand. But sometimes they’re mistakes that a basic spellcheck would find. I recently waded through a thriller where the first third was well edited but it then progressively deteriorated. One sentence started with the word ‘ut’ instead of ‘But’!

I’m sorry but that’s unforgiveable. (I’m still toying with whether to ‘name and shame’.) It was almost as if the author started off with good intentions but got so excited about publishing that they gave up on the proofreading part way.

What I also find disturbing about this and other examples is that the books in question often have quite a few four and five star Amazon reviews. Maybe other people can ignore the mistakes but my fear is that friends are writing glowing reviews without having really read the book in question.

Which again, defeats the purpose of reviews, brings the honesty of the whole system into question and ultimately is only going to drive more readers away.

(I have the same problem with all these indie authors who ask each other to ‘like’ books on Amazon in return for a reciprocal ‘like’. If you haven’t actually read and ‘liked’ the book in question, how honest is this?)

So please, fellow authors, don’t rush to publish a book that’s not ready. Your audience isn’t going to vanish if you wait a few months. Take the time to proofread, edit and re-edit. You’ll probably get more readers – and money from real sales – if you do it properly.

NB. For anyone tempted to do a quality check on my work then my novel The Tale Of Findo Gask is free until (and including) Monday 25th February. Click on the links below:


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6 responses to “Stop Spoiling Self-Publishing!”

  1. Melissa Bowersock (@MJBowersock) says :

    Huw, I totally agree. Nothing pops me out of a story faster (or makes me crankier) than having to work at figuring out what the writer is trying to say, and bad editing, grammar, spelling and typing skills all do that. Writing the book is not enough; publishing is not enough. It must be polished so it flows easily and carries the reader along. I once helped a friend format a book and I noticed that he had many single word sentences of dialog, i.e. “No.” However, he never put the period after the word! Every single word sentence was like that. I gently suggested he may want to put periods in there, but to no avail. I honestly had no clue what he was thinking, but I certainly would not have read many pages of that. Luckily he wasn’t paying me to read, only to format!

  2. Kathy DeLong says :

    Ruh roh. You have a typo in your post:

    However. There are limits and mine are being stretched to breaking point. As an indie author myself I want to support fellow writers and I regularly download books that are on promotion. But – although I have found a few gems – I seem to increasingly be rolling my eyes and pressing ‘delete’ before I’ve read more than a few chapters.

    • Huw Thomas says :

      Okay. If correct then you’re proving the point that we should never be our own proofreaders…
      But I’ve read this half a dozen times and I can’t see the typo!

  3. Jessica says :

    Hey Huw! I totally agree. It’s important to have proofreaders or beta readers for books because no matter how many times you read something yourself, there’s always something that might get missed. I’ve had Stephen King books with typos (on their third or fourth printing!), so a couple typos are definitely forgivable, but these other authors who aren’t putting in the time and effort to get their books as perfect as they can be before releasing them are really frustrating.
    The review thing is also a big pet peeve. I have struggled to get reviews for my books simply because I’m not much of a marketer, so when I see other people just writing “fluff” reviews for friends, it’s very frustrating. I may not have many reviews, but I came by them honestly!
    Just as a sidenote/tangent: regarding Kathy’s comment above–I don’t see any typos either, but there is a split infinitive. That’s the only grammar thing I see: “to increasingly be”

    • Huw Thomas says :

      Split infinitives! Oh that’s just a style thing. It’s a pure myth that it’s wrong to split infinitives.
      Sometimes it’s necessary (or just reads more naturally). Although it can sometimes look clumsy as in your example from my rant! 😉

      • Jessica says :

        I had a philosophy teacher who explained the split infinitive to our class, and for some reason, that particular grammar concept stuck with me.
        While I generally try to steer clear of the split infinitive in prose, when it comes to dialogue, all bets are off! It often does read more naturally because people do tend to speak in split infinitives, and I’m all about creating natural-sounding dialogue! You gotta do what works for the story, even if it means bending or breaking some of the traditional grammar/style rules…

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