THE BLOG
03/31/2011 12:00 pm ET | Updated May 31, 2011

Honor Your Readers, Hire an Editor

I received an email this week from Smashwords. The ebook publisher is celebrating the 40,000th book that was entered into its catalog last week. It warms my heart to read about the success of this publisher. Smashwords' success means that a lot of self-published authors, such as wiz kid Amanda Hocking, now have a voice. No more dependency on the big guys!

The dramatic rise in self-published books should mean that indie editors like myself are working overtime. Unfortunately that's not the case, and consequently our dirty underwear is showing. For example, I was curious about a particular self-published book, so I clicked over to Amazon to investigate. The following comments say it all:

  • "sad state of publishing"
  • "This book is the most appallingly written book ever -- there are elementary spelling, grammatical and factual errors that any real publisher would have spotted straight away, on every page."
  • "cliched"
  • "double spaced, big font, with new topics starting every couple of pages immediately following empty space"
  • "Ugh. Get an editor."
  • "glaring typos"
  • "spelling and grammar errors were very distracting"
  • "The most glaring thing wrong with this book is the editing, or lack thereof! There were so many run-on sentences and sentences lacking correct punctuation that reading this book became a chore. I had to reread sentences because incorrect words were used. Seeing all the typos suggests to me that this author was only concerned with turning a quick buck."
  • "pass on this one"
  • "save your money"

You might sell your first book, but you won't get repeat business if you refuse to honor the reader. Your book has to be readable. The rules of grammar and editing exist to make reading a pleasure, not a chore.

If your book is not readable, people will save their money the next time you publish. I guess it could be argued that the market will weed out the bad stuff, but really, self-published books that haven't been edited, fact checked, or proofed give this entire industry a bad reputation.

I've heard every excuse in the book as to why writers won't invest in editing and proofing. Most say they don't have the money. Then, writers, you must raise the funds. In fact, before you even begin writing, come up with a plan for how you will finance this most important step in making your book the best it can be.

Even the greatest writers must be edited, fact checked, and proofed.

Honor your readers!