Quality, or Lack Thereof

I haven’t read many self-published books. I never really thought about it until I decided to go the self-publishing route with my own novel. So far, the ones I’ve read have run the gamut from having only a few typos and a small need for editing to having so many typos, misspellings, tautology, etc., that it was hard to keep my head in the story.

I know there are reviewers out there who refuse to review self-published books, and those who have read them bemoan this lack of quality — and rightly so. With all the resources available to writers there’s no reason self-published books shouldn’t be on par with the majority of traditionally-published books.

I say the majority because I’ve read a few traditionally-published novels lately with a surprising number of typos and/or misused words. I don’t know if it has always been this way or if I’m just noticing it more since I’ve become more serious about my own work, but the fact is, traditionally-published books are not perfect.

Photo credit: Amazon

Photo credit: Amazon

Take the book I’m reading right now, for example: Aurian by Maggie Furey, published by Bantam Spectra in 1994. I discovered to my extreme annoyance that this book is missing over 30 pages. Half of chapters 16 and 18 and all of chapter 17 are not there. The page numbers go up through 250, then pages 219 through 250 are repeated, and then the story continues on page 283. Before the break, the villain is whole and plotting the destruction of Aurian, who has escaped his clutches by ship. When the story picks up again, the villain is blinded and bedridden and Aurian’s ship has been wrecked. What happened? If I want to know, I have to order another copy of the book (none of the local libraries have one) and hope it is complete.

I don’t know what happened there with quality control, but it’s certainly worse than any problem I’ve had with a self-published book. And while I know this is an isolated occurrence, I hope that readers will realize that traditionally-published books can have mistakes in them — and sometimes plotting and character development problems too — and that it’s unfair to put them on so lofty a pedestal above those that are self-published. I also hope that self-publishers will do their part to bring their books to a higher level of quality and help abolish the stigma attached to them simply for being self-published.

I will do my utmost to reach that level.

16 thoughts on “Quality, or Lack Thereof

  1. I’ve read only a few carefully chosen self-published books. If I like the quality of writing on the blog and the book’s plot, I’ll take a chance because I want to support bloggers I follow. I will say most could use editing, however typos are about the same rate as in traditionally published books.

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  2. I’ve been reading a slew of self-published books lately, mostly from bloggers I follow. There are a few bits and pieces that perturb me, but I know I’m not without fault in my own work, so I just track what I find and then email the bloggers with stuff I notice.

    I went through the critiquing and paid editing with my book. Even so, I’ve had to fix things. Sometimes, even when you try to provide something good, it still has flaws.

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  3. Great post, Lori! I agree that there can be errors in both types of books. I think a lot of it comes down to whoever is performing the editing and the proofreading of the book. Like writers, editors come in all stripes, and some of them are more qualified than others. I also think that in self-publishing many writers feel that they do not need to have their book professionally edited or find it too expensive. It doesn’t matter how well you write – that doesn’t mean you will be able to edit your work effectively. When I took editing courses in university, I came to appreciate how complicated editing can be – it was vastly different from my concept of “editing” before I took professional training. (And I know if I ever write a book, I am going to be very picky about my editor!)

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  4. Thanks, Sue! I agree that some editors are more qualified than others, and they each have their own style. Hiring an editor is very expensive, but it’s definitely worth it. Editing is a lot harder than one might think, and it helps to have a trained eye go over your story to catch what you miss.

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  5. I never read self-published books until I went that route myself. Now I read about as much indie/self-pubbed books as traditional. While there is a lot of poor quality books out there (selecting which self-pubbed books to read comes with a process of its own), there is also a lot of fantastic work out there. I’m glad I’ve started reading self-published books, or else I’d have missed these gems.

    Overall, I’d like to think that the quality of self-published work is rising. I think more people are approaching it as a business, and are making their work as professional as possible. It’s an exciting time to be a writer *and* a reader. 🙂

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  6. I’ve read about two dozen indie books and they range from very well done to horrendous. That being said, I’ve noticed more issues with traditionally published than I have in the past. I’m not sure if they’re getting sloppy or I’m getting better at identifying the issues. Nice post, Lori!

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  7. Coming by you via Melissa, Lori and I’m glad I did. I’ve enjoyed all the comments in response to your post. I can’t add much else except to say that self publishing doesn’t have the bad rap that it’s had in the past and writers are realising the value of good professional editing. Good luck with yours.

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  8. One thing I’ve noticed is that ebook versions of traditionally published works tend to have really ropy proofreading. I don’t recall seeing any big typos on hard copies, but on electronic copies I see them all the time.

    That said, I agree that a lot of indie books could use more editing. I’ve read quite a few indie books as of late and have enjoyed many, but I’ve yet to find one I like as much as the best traditionally-published works I’ve read.

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    • Thanks for stopping by! I wish there was a foolproof way to eradicate all typos. They always jar me out of the story. I hope at some point indie books rise to the level of the traditionally-published and no one will be able to tell the difference.

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