A number of self-published books cross my path. I look at all of them and read many of them. I am in the middle of reading one right now. The author and the book shall remain nameless.
For years self-published books have had a bad rap. As more authors have self-published and this arena has grown, the way the industry (and subsequently society) views self-published books is beginning to change (Thank you Lord!). For instance, recently, the American Society for Journalists and Authors (ASJA) accepted a self-published author into its membership for the first time in the history of the organization.
The bad rap that has nagged self-published books for years is not entirely undeserved. Take the book that I am currently reading. In the first chapter the author has made a number of errors in referring to Biblical stories. The author stated that Sarah was Abraham’s stepsister. For those that know their Bible, Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister; the daughter of his father, but not of his mother (Genesis 20:12). This author also states that 11 of Jacob’s sons were born in the land of Canaan. Again, for those that know their scriptures, 11 of Jacob’s sons were born in Haran (in Northwest Mesopotamia, now a part of modern Turkey) outside of Canaan (Genesis 27). In addition to this author’s gaffes in reference to scripture, the first chapter contains three typos and one grammar error. Of course, I only found one. My husband, the Grammar Gestapo, might find more.
It is these types of issues coupled with amateur cover designs and poorly typeset interiors that have helped lead to the poor reputation self-published books have historically held. While the book I am reading is on a subject that I have not seen any other Christian books address for quite some time, I cannot in good conscience recommend this book to others. The errors alone are enough for me to throw away the book.
I am by no means denigrating self-published books. There are many superior examples of fine self-published books that you would not be able to tell apart from any book published by a large publishing house, except by looking at the name of the publisher. Paul, in I Corinthians 5:6, says “Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?” A few bad books can wreak havoc with the reputation of all self-published books.
I have published some of my own books and I would recommend doing so to others. If God has given you a message and called you to publish it, then by all means do so. However, please make sure that you do the following two things before your book sees print.
- Hire someone to edit and proofread your work. Make sure that the person who is editing knows their Bible and theology so that they can help keep the integral message intact while catching errors you have made. One publisher recently complained to me that the editor he hired changed some wording in a way that completely changed the Biblical message he was attempting to give.
- Wrap your words in a pretty package. Presentation is important. If you are working for the Lord, rather than man (Colossians 3:23), should you not make sure that your book reflects this? Would someone give a king a present in a garbage bag? The same is true for your book. It should reflect the character of God. Therefore, make sure that you have a cover design that is professional and an interior layout that is pleasing to the eye.
Many authors tell me that they can’t afford these extra services. If this is the case for you, I suggest that you hold off publishing and seek God to provide the financing for these services as an assurance from him that you are to move ahead with self-publishing.
The author of the book I am reading has a great point to make. However, I doubt that this author will sell many copies of his book because of his lack of attention to the details and the packaging. May it not be so for you.