It began on Face Book… No, wait. It began with anticipation, with having had positive experiences reading a particular author’s works. It began with seeing the posts about a new one, the reported word counts and the countdowns, the fans a’buzzing. Promises made.
It began with a purchase.
It ended like this:
A book I was very much anticipating, a book that is receiving adulation…
A book riddled with errors—grammatical, formatting, typos.
That book is just a muddled mess. It was pushed into self-publishing far too soon.
The author-reader compact once more broken.
I shall not be purchasing anything else by that author.
This hit a nerve apparently, my post on Face Book. I didn’t name names. I wasn’t about to publicly body slam an author in particular, not because I’m such a kind, caring individual, but because the problems are egregious, widespread, rampant, and overwhelmingly damaging to all authors who publish independently yet manage to produce quality content: good stories, relatively error free, and worth forking over disposable income to support reading habits.
This was not the author’s first book, not by a long shot. This author has a rabid following. This author actually knows better.
The Face Book comments advanced the usual arguments, ranging from everyone makes mistakes to even trad published work has errors, to I cut brand new authors a break or the early books were full of errors but I like the stories and hope the author’s next one will be better.
There were questions: did I get in touch with the author and point out the problems so the author has a chance to fix them?
Let’s examine, shall we?
- Everyone makes mistakes. Yes they do, which is why you hire an editor to minimize the typos, the grammar glitches, the wonky POVs, timeline issues, continuity issues, fact-finding issues, plot issues. Trust me, no author can edit his or her own work sufficiently well to pass muster. Not beta readers, not your mom, not your BFF who reads a lot. You need a professional.
- Even trad published books have errors. Yes they do. Want to know why? Because they’ve cleaned out their editing staffs in favor of marketing gurus who don’t give a tinker’s damn if your/you’re or there/they’re/their are correct just so long as it’s marketed correctly. Case in point: 50SoG, sent to market unedited when picked up by trad publishing so as not to interfere with momentum. If the shit is selling, gods forbid you stop to fix it.
- I cut brand new authors a break. Why? Since when do the rules not apply just because it’s a newbie (and let me go on record to say I despise that term: it’s officious, passive-aggressive, and reverse bullying). If I am expected to PAY FOR A PRODUCT, aka a book, then I am entitled to a finished effort, not something with Some Assembly Required! It’s called learning the craft, and you do it on YOUR OWN TIME and not at my expense as a consumer.
- Early books were full of errors but I liked the stories, so I keep hoping for improvement on the next one. Wait… what? In 12-step terms, that’s called enabling. Since when does Amazon function as an APPRENTICESHIP SYSTEM? How is an author learning the craft at MY expense a viable economic model for ME? And about that learning thing… You reward an author for substandard work by continuing to purchase said stories, by giving positive/encouraging reviews, and hoping the next time out of the box that author will have magically figured out the difference between first and third POV, or has figured out you can’t swap tenses from one paragraph to the other. Really? You want to pay someone to learn on your nickel, or your time? <shakes head>
And as to the question: did I get in touch with the author and point out the problems so the author has a chance to fix them?
The answer: the plumber didn’t fix my busted pipe for free, the orthopedic surgeon didn’t replace my knee for free, the landscaper didn’t cut down the dead tree for free. I don’t give editing/formatting advice for free either. Readers are NOT editors and should not be EXPECTED to offer FREE advice and assistance, particularly when the reader has already paid for the book.
PUBLISHING: THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS.