Saturday, January 4, 2014

Self-Publishing Advice That I Disagree With

Myth #1: Do Not Self-Publish Before You Are Ready

The problem with this advice is that you are never ready and you'll always make mistakes. Self-publishing and writing are crafts you can never master. You have to improve and innovate yourself all the time. Even if you make it to the top of your game (whatever that means), you still need to try new things and get better if you want to stay where you are.

So you are basically never ready and you never fully know what you are doing.

I changed my book cover. I found mistakes and messed up formatting for books I self-published. Was it the end of the world? No. I improved those things. I'm getting better at what I can with the resources that I have.

It's better to try, fail, and learn than do nothing.

Also, the first book I ever self-published was Medusa's Desire, but it wasn't the first novel I ever wrote. While I have no wish to self-publish the previous two books I wrote, there's nothing tangible that I can say that explains why this book seemed like the right one to me. It just did.

Myth #2: Self-Published Authors Who Have Grammar or Spelling Mistakes In Their Novels Weren't Ready To Self-Publish

People get really mad at self-published authors with mistakes in their novels or self-published authors who have "poorly written" novels, whatever that means. The truth is, none of us can write a good novel. We need critique partners and editors. And even when we have those, there are still sometimes mistakes in our novels.

It's true with traditionally published novels as well. Some have small mistakes like typos and others have huge ones like poor character development. But that doesn't matter and doesn't always make it impossible for them to succeed.

It's best to minimize those mistakes, but it's also good to remember, that authors are humans, not gods. So we make mistakes and it's okay.

Also, people disagree on what makes a good novel. I know some people would say a novel riddled with grammar mistakes is automatically a terrible one, but not to everyone. When I was a teen, I preferred fan-fiction online riddled with mistakes over reading published and polished novels. *shrugs* So I liked the ones with mistakes better at the time.

And I've read at least one editor who said it's better to make grammar mistakes and have something interesting to write with good pacing and character development, then to have a story that's boring with terrible pacing and characters, but with zero grammar mistakes.


Terri B. said...

I love this post! So true! I think sometimes we have to make mistakes in order to learn from them. Hereafter was already published once (by a publisher). I can't even tell you the number of errors the editor I hired for the rerelease found in it (that had made it to the previously published edition). Oops! So, yes, absolutely, publishers make the same mistakes! :-)

E. M. LaBonte said...

YES! I've seen some books from the traditional publishers and cringed at each typo and each boring, flat description. The amount of times I've put a book down for grammar is zero. The times I've put a book down for flat character and plot holes. I can't count that high without hurting my brain. It's not the typos that matter. It's the story. Thanks EB!

T.J. said...

Yes! You can try to hit as many as possible, but you'll never get them all anyway.

Sadly, traditional authors are forgiven, and they really lean on self published.

And we are human, no matter what. Now, I'll put down a book, and never pick it up again if I start editing the first two pages. It's over, I can't get past it.

Martin Willoughby said...

I've had to withdraw and re-edit two books, as well as redesign the covers.

The 'don't self-publish until you're ready' mantra is for those who go at it tooth and nail before they're ready, rather than those who 'slow burn'.

As for grammar/spelling mistakes, there are trad novels with large numbers of mistakes in them that it would be too expensive to edit out.

Kay Kauffman said...

While I agree that you're never ready to publish, whether traditionally or otherwise (I am totally kicking myself for all those queries I sent out in 2012), I think the point of myth #1 is to make sure you've edited and possibly revised before just slapping your book up on Amazon for sale, and that's something I agree with, too. I admire your bravery for putting your book out there (it's sitting on my huge TBR pile, and I can't wait to get to it). I'm not sure I'll ever be ready to release my novels myself. :)

Tricia Drammeh said...

I totally agree that there comes a point when you have to put your book out there. No one is ever perfect and whether you've published one book or twenty books, there's always room for improvement. There are some cases where authors publish before they're ready. While I'm willing to overlook some grammatical errors, there are some books out there that are unreadable. Authors need to understand they can't do it all alone, and they don't have to. Enlisting betas or hiring an editor can clean up grammar or help identify plot holes. I sent my first queries long before I was ready. I've learned a lot since then, and part of that learning came from making mistakes. Publishing before you're ready is not the end of the world.

SC Author said...

Self-published books seem to receive much higher expectations of quality than traditional ones by the readers. If there's even one mistake, it'll be the fault of the self-published aspect, not normal mistakes. I've always felt it's so, so much tougher to get credit for your book if you self-publish. It's a tough crowd!!

Self Published Author said...

This gave me so much hope for the future. I have just put my first novel out as a self published author and I have had to make small alterations (I think there were a grand total of 3 mistakes that I know of and have been able to correct) in a 50K word manuscript. It made me smile when I read that there have been typos in mainstream published novels through pub houses and that it is not exclusive to self pub authors. Thank you again for a great article. Saved to my favorites:)

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