The other day my middle-school-aged daughter remarked to me, “Mom, why do so many people have such poor editing skills?” Confused, I asked her what she meant.
It turns out that my daughter’s friend, who owns a Kindle, had been showing my daughter the books she has been reading. My daughter had read small sections of a few of these fiction ebooks and had been appalled at the poor grammar in them.
Upon a little investigation, I discovered that the ebooks her friend had been downloading were cheap—costing a dollar or less. It appears that the vast majority of these books were independently published digital-only books.
Needless to say, I gave my daughter a lesson in publishing. She learned all about traditional publishing houses with editors who serve as gatekeepers and provide some measure of quality and control versus self-published authors. I explained to her that today it is easy for anyone to publish a digital book without any outside measure of control over the grammar, sentence structure, or even the elements of the story itself in the book.
I recently saw a blog post heading that read “The Overwhelming Majority of Self-Published eBooks Are Terrible.” Sadly, I believe this statement is too often true.
The zero-cost entry and easy access to digital publishing (think Smashwords and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing) has enticed many aspiring authors—and remember 81% of people surveyed feel they have a book inside of them—to turn their manuscripts into digital books creating a glut of low-cost, low-quality ebooks for readers to choose from. Bowker Market Research recently reported that self-published ebooks now account for 12% of the entire digital publishing market. In some cases, the number actually rises to 20%, but is fairly genre specific to crime, science fiction and fantasy, romance and humor.
If you are considering independently publishing a book, the best thing you can do for your book is hire an editor and a proofreader. Grammatical errors, typos, and punctuation mistakes are often a turn-off for readers. You don’t want to have a reviewer (as one BookCrash blogger recently graciously wrote) write the following about your book:
“My only complaint about this book is that it needs more careful editing for errors, but the content of the book makes the typos easy to overlook.”
A well-written book will sell better than a poorly written one, even if you are just trying to sell fiction stories to teenagers.