Self-publishing is killing self-publishing

Self-publishing. It’s being ruined by the very people who should be supporting it and doing everything in their power to make it great. I’m talking about all the self-published authors who are happy to release books littered with bad grammar, poor punctuation, clichés, repetition, clunky sentences and a total lack of any sign that proofreading or editing has taken place.

Their books get slammed by reviewers on Amazon, Goodreads, etc., and the widespread negativity towards all self-published books, not just the legitimately bad ones, grows exponentially.

Nobody ever posts a review on Amazon to compliment an author on good spelling or punctuation because those things are expected, and should be taken for granted by a reader. Because of that, those things should be prioritised by self-published authors, not forgotten or ignored.

No reader wants to have to struggle with interpreting the meaning of a sentence because it is poorly written. Just think about that for a few seconds. Now go pick a self-published book at random on Amazon and check out the ‘Look Inside’ sample. If that sample is a load of unedited garbage, the whole book is guaranteed to be.

No reader wants their immersion in a book to be derailed by bad punctuation, missing words (or duplicated words), and the countless other mistakes that too many self-published authors don’t even bother trying to correct before rushing their novel out into the world.

The attitude is obvious: they have written their book and they want it published NOW. It took them six months, or six years, or a whole weekend to write, so they believe that they have done all the hard work and now they want the reward to which they are entitled: they want to see their book published and for sale.

If you venture onto a Facebook author group or some other  forum where self-published authors congregate to help each other decide which badly Photoshopped cover to use, or which stilted, purple-prose blurb to choose, you must never, ever tell any of them that the books they have published need a bit of editing as they’re not in a fit state to have been published. Try this, and you will be either ignored or lambasted as some kind of fascist killjoy who lives only to belittle the stalwart efforts of the self-published community.

Sorry, but every unedited, mistake-laden self-published book that gets released contributes to the growing negative attitude of readers to self-published books. That’s a fact. I don’t care if it’s not a popular fact, it’s still a fact. There are lots of potential readers out there who will never go near one of my self-published books because they have already suffered too much at the hands of impatient self-published authors who were only interested in writing something and publishing it, and not at all interested in writing something, checking it, asking one or two other people to check it, and doing everything they could possibly do to make it the best that it could be.

It’s your book. You wrote it. You have to care about it being genuinely ready for publication, because nobody else will.

I’m not talking about boring stories, copy-paste characters, illogical plots, or sub-literate rambling bollocks masquerading as science fiction. I’m talking about actually caring about the quality of your finished product at a fundamental level. Because a hell of a lot of you clearly don’t care, and don’t want to hear about it from your peers.

“I sell plenty of books,” is one of their standard, brush-off replies when told that their books need to be proofread and edited before publication. Yes, I’m sure you do sell books. But then the people who bought your books will read them, see that you can’t even string a coherent sentence together, or understand the basics of punctuation, and the self-publishing negativity grows a little bit more.

I probably put more effort into checking and editing this rant than a lot of self-published authors put into editing and proofreading their own books.

I certainly put a hell of a lot more effort into editing and proofreading my own books.

And yet, some mistakes do slip through. I accept that, and I’m more than happy to not only admit it, but to applaud and thank anyone who spots something wrong in one of my books and lets me know about it. If I missed it, and my test-readers missed it, then whoever finds these mistakes deserves that applause and thanks.

If you’re a self-published author and you put as much effort, or more, into editing as you put into writing your books, then you have my gratitude and my congratulations. All you need to worry about are the same things I’m ranting about in this post.

If you’re a self-published author, and you read this post and thought ,”Ah, screw him, he thinks he’s some sort of grand-master punctuation expert who can lecture me on how I write…” I think we all know what I think of you and your rushed, ill-considered publications.

Have a great day. Do some editing. It won’t kill you.

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Crime novel blog part 2

This is the second instalment of the ongoing progress of my sixth novel, a crime thriller set in England, in the winter of 1985. I’m still not giving away any plot, character or title details until my test readers have given their initial feedback.

The book is ‘finished apart from some editing’, which means it’s half-finished. Editing will follow my usual routine, where I re-read it with a chainsaw a dozen times, at the same time that my test readers have a go at it.

Considering how many crime/thriller novels I’ve read, it’ surprising that I didn’t try to write one a little sooner. It’s also a relief that I waited this long, because I’ve learned a hell of a lot from writing the first five novels, mostly that my choice of marketable genres was terrible.

If you are interested in finding out more about this book slightly earlier than everyone else, please get in touch via the contact page on this site. The same goes for anyone who fancies being a test reader, or just wants a free copy.

I’ll be keeping these blog posts short as I’m using whatever free time I have (not much, as always) to edit the novel and write the intro letter and synopsis that I’ll be using when I start contacting literary agents.

Cheating Sunrise – test reading has started

I’m in that intriguing, exciting period (which usually lasts about 5 minutes) between finishing the last chapter and entering the test-reading phase. Right now, I’m doing the non-writing stuff which is mostly just me sending the book out to a few people to test read.

I will be going back to re-read and edit the whole book several times myself, to get it as polished as it needs to be before I go into publishing mode.

This is a very rough estimate, but I reckon I’ll have Cheating Sunrise ready for pre-order within a month. It’s going to be on Amazon Kindle for digital, and also available in paperback. I’ll do a back-cover reveal before the book goes on sale, but I’ll probably leave that for a couple of weeks while I’m editing.

The book doesn’t have its own page on this site yet, so I’ll also be sorting that out very soon.

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