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Self Publishing...time for quality assurance.


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Showing 51-75 of 150 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2013, 14:58:57 BST
Nav Logan says:
I can understand Sou'Wester's position regarding books and music; however, whatever there is a problem with it. As authors, our hope is to sell books and make a living, perhaps. Whatever you are selling, you need to appeal to your market audience, and in the case of children's books, perhaps this isn't a book which although grammatically correct, they don't feel a connection with and therefore don't learn a love of reading. The English language is like music, in that it is ever changing. If we look at respected authors from the past such as Shakespeare, or even more recent great writers such as Henri Thoreuax and the anthroposophical writings of Rudolf Steiner, they are grammatically excellent and yet I would find them a hard read, let along my teenage children. What i have hopefully instilled in my children is a love of literature and from this as they grow older, their grasp of the language improves. Having looked at their study books from school, it seems that the English language isn't even being taught as it was in my day. with an almost cavalier attitude to spelling and Grammar being the norm.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2013, 15:02:30 BST
Nav Logan says:
I wonder Carol, could you advise on a good link or program for the PC to read the novel back to you. It sounds like a marvelous tool, though i am not sure whether it will work in my own writing as there are Gaelic words splattered through it.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2013, 15:14:26 BST
Last edited by the author on 18 Apr 2013, 15:14:53 BST
carol arnall says:
Certainly,
Save your document to PDF. Once saved, click on view, look down the menu, just beneath Automatically Scroll, you'll see Read aloud. click on this. It is an American voice, and at first sounds a little distorted. I quickly got used to it. You'll see that you can pause or stop it anytime. I feel sure if you don't like the sound of the woman's voice you can change to the man.
I've found this method helpful.
You can also download your document and read it from your Kindle, that's provided you have one of course. Kindles also have the read aloud function on them.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2013, 15:18:34 BST
Nav Logan says:
Thanks for the tip. I already do the reading on Kindle, as it not only gives me the opportunity to check the flow of the work, but also how the end product looks, thanks. I will try the audio too.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2013, 15:24:09 BST
carol arnall says:
I think many of the good authors who started along the SP route in the early days have/or are becoming disillusioned with it, Sou'Wester. I suppose I must be lucky as if I buy a self published book I'm normally lucky in my choice. Looking at the sample or the Look Inside feature helps.
I do find that some of the trad published books on KIndle are badly formatted, and I have complained in the past.
Isn't there a thread somewhere with recommended books on There aain how would readers know about it? There are very few sign posts on Amazon, most readers know which book they want when they log in.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2013, 15:28:00 BST
carol arnall says:
The thing is NL, that by listening to your book on your computer it's easier to correct your m/s every so often, than say if you are listening to it on your Kindle. That's what I found anyway! I know you can highlight your mistakes on the Kindle, but the other way works best for me.

Posted on 18 Apr 2013, 16:00:13 BST
Last edited by the author on 18 Apr 2013, 16:01:37 BST
Marion Stein says:
Amazon is neither a publisher nor a bookstore. It's a marketplace, which allows people to sell their work in return for a percentage of those sales. It's not concerned about the quality of your individual book and it is not going to provide you with a list of editors. (Also, good "professional" fiction editors don't usually take on freelance jobs for non-published writers at any price, and most self-published novels cannot be saved even by great editors. They are just plain lousy.) Even great writers have novels that they will never publish -- not because they can't find an editor, but because they know the work will NEVER be good enough or won't sell for other reasons.

As long as Amazon allows anyone to upload anything, many people will continue to upload books that are badly formatted, badly written, not proofread, not "ready", etc. It doesn't impact on Amazon's bottom line if your book doesn't sell. Customers will buy something else and virtual shelf space is cheap. They have no motive to change the system in order to help you sell more of your books.

Customers may rightly be reluctant to buy self-published books. Certainly very few seek out self-published books. However, plenty of self-published books are bought. Generally, these books are within certain genres where people are more likely not to care how a book is published. The genre readers who buy self-published books also like that they are less expensive as many are voracious readers who can't get enough. Even these readers who are open to self-publishing aren't going to spend hours browsing newly downloaded books and seeking unknown authors. They will look at stuff that is already selling, or recommended to them by people (or blogs) they trust, etc. This is why so many authors are now concerned with social-networking, blogging, getting reviewed on blogsites, etc.

While I wish more people were more "responsible" about what they upload on Kindle, I accept I can't do anything about what other people do. As a reader, I don't buy self-published stuff unless I hear about it in discussions (in forums like these) or read about it on some website I like or trust. For example, I heard about the extremely successful Wool (Wool Trilogy 1) after reading about it on a forum post on this site. Then I googled it and found an article on Salon. Then I bought it.

I do not believe that Hugh Howey, the author of Wool hired a "professional" editor although I'm sure he had other people eye his work before he published it, and that it went through several drafts. Howey had been previously traditionally published, so he knew about the editing process and had honed his skills for several years.

Given all the money that new-writers are now spending on "author services," IMHO, Amazon could get in on the act and offer some kind of "reader approved" seal for books that are of a publishable standard, but writers would need to pay an assessment fee, as you can't ask people to do this for free. Writers who already have a following might not bother with it, but it might be a good reality check for people's whose work isn't very good. (I wrote about this on my own blog, marionstein dot net/2013/03/08/the-service-savvy-authors-would-pay-for-if-it-existed/)

Posted on 18 Apr 2013, 16:29:02 BST
Scribbler says:
Ishouldbewriting; you make a very cogent argument for the status quo but I like your idea about a 'reader approved' seal to show that the work has been read and is worth buying. I for one, would be more than willing to pay to be part of such an arrangement.
As a self-published author who was also a traditionally published author, I know only too well how much hard work went into my writing; editing, re-writing, more editing, more re-writing. I disliked being part of a big six 'stable' as it were but it was a very steep learning curve and one I'm extremely thankful I went through. It taught me invaluable lessons about writing I couldn't possibly have gained anywhere else and now I use them in my self-published books.
Its disheartening to know that so many self-published authors are simple overlooked because we are deemed 'unworthy' but as you say, Amazon is there to sell and whether its good, bad or indifferent, it makes no odds to them. By the looks of things I won't be giving up the day job which is a shame given how interesting conveyancing isn't....

Amber Andrews - The Lovers

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2013, 16:46:39 BST
@M. Byrne: Thank you for the suggested edits. I don't know how many US visitors there are to this forum, but the number of downloads spiked since you posted the opening pages of the first chapter (Mr. Planemaker's Flying Machine is free on Amazon.com).

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2013, 18:09:12 BST
Sou'Wester says:
It's true that English isn't taught that well today - although I don't think it is quite as bad is it was around 20-30 years ago, when trendy teaching methods more-or-less chucked grammar and spelling out of the window. I often found myself picking up the pieces, trying to help youngsters overcome the enormous obstacle of having poor language skills to make something of their lives.
There are (or were) plenty of books which, though no-one would claim they constituted great writing, at least displayed some literary skills and adhered to the basic rules of grammar. In my opinion to sell a book that doesn't do this is the same as selling shoddy goods that are not fit for purpose. To sell a childrens' book that doesn't do this is absolutely criminal.

Posted on 18 Apr 2013, 18:57:16 BST
F Mundo says:
I'm not sure I can agree with the argument of the OP's that the average reader wants a quality assurance for the books she reads. It seems logical to discerning readers like you and me, but where's the evidence for this statement? I'd say the most popular books actually signals the opposite notion -- that the average reader couldn't care less who wrote or published or didn't edit the book they're reading. After all, I could rewrite my book for decades, take all the care and caution in the world, pay millions to get it edited and polished and edited again, and 40 million copies of the latest 50 Shades of Unedited Whatever will sell in the meantime. It's sad to think about. But I think it's true.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2013, 19:22:53 BST
I Readalot says:
Unfortunately there always will be the sheep. A lot of the copies of 50 Shades we sold in the shop were to people who hadn't read a book for years and it will probably be years before they read another one. Then there were the customers who asked for it without having a clue what kind of book it was, sometimes a mention of S & M put them off straight away. I despaired every time I sold a copy while far better books lay unnoticed on the shelves.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2013, 19:43:01 BST
F Mundo says:
Yeah, that's so true. I remember seeing a survey that revealed that some surprisingly large number of Americans (I live in the US) only reads an average of 1 book in their lifetime after graduating high school. I hope it wasn't that one :)

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2013, 19:45:29 BST
Nav Logan says:
i read the first book at bedtime to the kids, with a marker in hand. They're a bit big for that now.

Posted on 18 Apr 2013, 19:56:37 BST
Marion Stein says:
Let's get real. Most of the books on bestseller lists are romance novels and thrillers. Most of the readers who read and buy fiction, read and buy those types of books. Maybe the OP is getting at the basics -- lack of obvious typos, wrong words, etc, good formatting, some basic knowledge of punctuation, etc. But past that the actual way the story is written and its elements are going to be judged very differently by readers with different tastes. A lot of readers don't mind bland characters as they can project themselves more easily onto a blank slate rather than a developed character and they want to experience the story as though it's happening to them. I get bored with bland and will stop reading if I can't see the character as a complete human being who is NOT me.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2013, 22:05:06 BST
Last edited by the author on 18 Apr 2013, 22:05:48 BST
That's a good point, there are also the people who like a puzzle. Agatha Christie springs straight to mind for this, the whole book is just a race for the reader to solve the mystery before Poirot. It's a different kind of requirement from literature. I find that unless the characters act in a way that's true to themselves all the way through I will get irritated but so long as they do, I'll read any genre at all... which probably makes me a weirdo.

Everyone; on the grammar front, punctuation of speech is completely different to the way I was taught at school, I was taught always a capital letter for He or She said, always a full stop at the end of a line of speech, always a new line for a new person speaking... so I've definitely had to relearn my grammar.

Cheers

MTM

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Apr 2013, 00:03:50 BST
Last edited by the author on 19 Apr 2013, 00:25:02 BST
Grammar rules haven't changed, M. T., a new line is still required for a new person speaking:

Rule #1: A new speaker makes a new line.
If you have two characters speaking in a story, it's important to keep it clear who's speaking. Hemingway often makes things challenging by having long back-and-forths between characters without dialogue tags (tags are "he said" and "she said"). That's allowed, as long as you make a new line every time someone else is speaking.

http://www.writerlylife.com/2010/09/how-to-use-dialogue-correctly/#.UXBzhqKsiSo

He and She is used if the dialogue ends in a full stop; after a comma, it's he or she:

"Punctuation of speech is completely different to the way I was taught at school." She wrote from memory.

"Punctuation of speech is completely different to the way I was taught at school," she wrote.

Top ten publishing myths:

http://www.authormagazine.org/articles/brown_erin_2010_05_15.htm

Posted on 19 Apr 2013, 01:17:25 BST
M Byrne says:
The minefield of punctuation...Whatever you say about punctuation you will most probably be wrong (whoever is saying it), at the same time you will very likely be right. Punctuation, like all aspects of the language evolves-and right now is a period of accelerated evolution-the most important thing is consistency within a document. Not being greatly educated I got myself a punctuation text book, only to find it was at odds with much of the reading material on my shelf-another reason I employed an editing service. I then found an on-line tutorial on the ellipsis and applied what it said throughout my manuscript...Once my manuscript was with my editor, she told me I was apply ellipsis wrongly. Back on line; couldn't find the site I had previously visited, so checked out 17 other sites. The one outstanding consistency was that they were inconsistent! That's right...no two of the sites agreed. So my one contribution would be: keep it consistent.

Note: my punctuation in this post is deliberately inconsistent.... Yet not wrong..., or is it...? Well, yes it is, by virtue of the fact that it is inconsistent. But, by fact that it installs pauses, and qualifies the remit of certain sentences, maybe not. Then again...

Anyway, despite that good punctuation is relevant to a quality product, as an individual subject, it is wandering from the thread. So a recap: I (and it seems most) would like an easily recognisable quality assurance. My own idea of a pro edit stamp has a flaw; it would be unfair to the less than 0.02 authors on Amazon who are capable of producing quality without professional help. (And it's not my intention that anyone should be unfairly penalized).

The too few sales for it to be any good so it gets deleted has the flaw: it might be of good quality but on an unpopular subject. Though perhaps Amazon could have a special "shelve" where the good-book-poor-sales could be kept.

A filter rejecting poor spelling, grammar and punctuation won't work, because many place names and titles and much slang can be expected in a book.

And an acceptance read by a human is a process that is too subjective, and really is somewhat in contradiction to all that is good regarding new-wave self-publishing.

And that, I think, brings back to square 1. So any ideas anyone? Maybe it is in what we have already covered but needs refinement. Lets keep chatting and see if anything evolves.

Posted on 19 Apr 2013, 08:25:48 BST
[Deleted by the author on 19 Apr 2013, 08:26:47 BST]

Posted on 19 Apr 2013, 08:27:37 BST
Last edited by the author on 19 Apr 2013, 08:33:53 BST
LioninWinter says:
I've often wondered about editing, and I'm sure everything I've read and heard about the necessity of editing is true. I wish I had an editor in the room sometimes, of just someone I could hand my writing to and ask, "Does this make sense?" Fortunately, I have some very critical friends, who read first drafts.

But the editing process does not begin with an editor. As a writer, I edit constantly: writing, then rewriting, then rewriting again, and again, and again. I have cut too. God, have I cut! I have grammar checked, too, and spell checked continuously. There will always be mistakes, but you do your best to eliminate them.

I have just read Henry Miller. While his books won't be to everyone's taste, and his writing style even less, his books are often described as chaotic and raw, which seem precisely the things I imagine an editor would have a field day with, to the books detriment. The point here is to write how the book needs you to write, though you should set it aside and edit it again, later.

Someone once suggested to me that a book writes itself, and I see their point. Even the most worked out plot begins to develop, because it becomes something else when you begin to write, because something happens when you write. It takes over. Writing takes enormous courage. Sadly, that's true of bad writing, too.

Lastly, the liberation that comes with self publishing is also its defeat: anyone can do it now, and it saddens me to think that people are writing books, because they think its trendy, or fun, or worse, 'because everyone's doing it'. It has become a new Middle Class a rite of passage.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Apr 2013, 08:42:37 BST
Scribbler says:
So true, so true; everything you say is relevant to how I feel about writing. I do it because I have to; its not an option; its as vital to my creative wellbeing as breathing, eating and drinking. I know that sounds pretentious but if I don't write, the day just isn't right somehow.
As for editing; again and again and again and even then I don't know if I've finished it. A tweek here and there and then maybe I should take that out and .....and so it goes on. My book is for sale on Amazon but I still don't know if its 'finished'. I'm sure if I take it down and re-read it I'd find something else to edit so I don't and live in a constant state of 'what if'.
And you're so right about self publishing undoing itself because the world and his dog thinks they can write when looking at so much of the stuff for sale it is patently untrue. I make no bones about my writing 'ability'; it is what it is; a fairly basic rollicking good story and great for the beach and that's it. I leave the literary stuff for those who can because I can't and what's more, I'm not interested in it. I try to do my best and can't do anymore. Imagery, syntax, comprehension, language; thank goodness for my English tutor.
All we would-be writers can hope for is that eventually Amazon sorts itself out and those of us who strive to write something decent and worthwhile will get the sales. I don't know about you but nothing cheers up my day than to see those numbers go up! Sad really but there you are.

Amber Andrews - The Lovers

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Apr 2013, 08:50:31 BST
Ethereal says:
"Lastly, the liberation that comes with self publishing is also its defeat: anyone can do it now, and it saddens me to think that people are writing books, because they think its trendy, or fun, or worse, 'because everyone's doing it'. It has become a new Middle Class a rite of passage."

That's something I hadn't thought of before and I think you're right.

Regards editing and proofreading, it costs to have these done professionally and I realise this can exclude some authors. But I think many are realising it's worth waiting for if they have to save - just as I never like to buy luxury items on credit but prefer to wait until I can afford it - and those who don't or can't might find niche markets if their work is good enough to overlook flaws. Errors can be rectified easily I know, but rushing in before a book is ready can only damage an author's reputation.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Apr 2013, 09:44:44 BST
Last edited by the author on 19 Apr 2013, 09:48:50 BST
LioninWinter says:
To Oriana: I like your honesty about what you write and why. And yes, it is a pleasure to see sales figures rise, if you are lucky to have them. For a long time I made a point of not looking. Good luck.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Apr 2013, 09:47:59 BST
Last edited by the author on 19 Apr 2013, 09:49:03 BST
LioninWinter says:
To Ethereal: I especially agree with your point about rushing in, and the possibility that one can damage one's reputation. I think I made every mistake I could make, and while I might have been more cautious, and taken advice, too, knowledge learned the hard way is true knowledge, though it comes at a greater cost. As a reader, I am probably as unforgiving as most other people when it comes to flaws.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Apr 2013, 09:53:37 BST
Scribbler says:
You know what, I'm not going to look anymore either. Last month was my best yet but since then....if I'm honest its depressing. Something exciting and tantalising was dangled in front of my face and just out of reach of my grasping fingers and then 'phfft' gone. Every Monday I promise myself not to look and yet like a drug addict needing their fix, I DO AND IT TRUELY ANNOYS ME. I generally have a really strong will regarding any kind of possible addiction (wine, chocolate, handbags, shoes) but given the opportunity of looking at sales, and my will disintegrates like shattered glass. Absolutely pathetic. Anyway, best of luck to you too. Wonder how long it will be before I cave in again 'sigh'.....Amber
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Initial post:  17 Apr 2013
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