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So is most self-published material poorly edited?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Zero Angel, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    You are fortunate in this regard. Although my comment referenced you, it was directed more towards the general writer who doesn't have relatives in the business. If it were me, I'd still be concerned about bias regardless of how slight.

    True depending on what you're looking for. The editors I'd hire would have an established record of success with authors whose work I know.
     
  2. squishybug87

    squishybug87 Minstrel

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    I'm one of the 'lucky' ones, I guess because I have my degree in Print Journalism and we were taught how to self edit. My husband also has a knack for the English language, though his focus is computers. However, I would get another pair of eyes to look at it. I know I'll be biased and my husband hates hurting my feelings, so there's that. I definitely second getting an English or Journalism major to look it over; I would have loved to have an opportunity like that back in school.

    I admit I do have the bias when it comes to self published books. I have read only a few good ones, and I really don't have the time to work with a book like I did a few years ago. I have two boys under 2. If a book doesn't grab my attention by the first...20-30 pages, I give up. Even if a book is traditionally published, I'm still sceptical. I read user reviews and I utilize that 'Look Inside' feature at Amazon. I know it's unfair to judge a book because it's self published but I have no choice because I have no time. I'm barely able to shower by myself, much less get time to read a book, so it needs to be good. That said, I plan to use my pickiness to my advantage as I'm writing my book, because I will be assuming that every reader is like me ;)

    I think self publishing is a good idea because it is so hard to get published nowadays and very few publishing houses take risks anymore (hence, the prevalence of all this soft core vampire porn). It's just sad that most of the books read like bad fanfiction :(
     
  3. The Din

    The Din Troubadour

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    Good to see everyone's adhering to the 'broke writer' stereotype and not just me. Still, if I ever give up on getting professionally published and decide to self publish, you can bet I'll cough up the coin to have an editor look at it first.

    Do the maths, you invest hundreds of hours into writing the damned thing, upon which you're effectively staking your reputation as a writer. Surely that's worth 10-30 hours of actual work. Don't feel like working? Pimp out the girlfriend, sling some crack, get a bloody paper route.

    I think a writer has to look carefully at their reasoning behind self publishing. To make money? Better odds buying a lottery ticket. All those writer-groupies? Well maybe skip the editor then and hope they don't read the thing. Actually create a name for themselves? Then surely they want to do everything possible to make their novel a success and as wrinkle free as possible?

    Concerning the original post: Yes, sadly.
     
  4. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    A good way of making sure you get a good service, but bear in mind those editors will not be so cheap as $600 unless you're somehow very lucky indeed or you know them. Which brings back the "I can't afford it" problem.

    You seem to be making light of the kind of money that we're talking about here. Now, I'm lucky; I managed to find a job when one in four people my age in the UK is unemployed. If things go really south, I can lean on my Dad for a little while albeit at the risk of delaying his retirement. But right now I'm living paycheque to paycheque. And I'm one of the lucky ones. Finding ways to make a little extra is easier said than done, whether you're working full time already or not. Jobs just aren't that easy to get; one job I applied for back when I was unemployed, in an off-license, had 70 applications. Finding the time or energy - or the job - to get a little extra money is difficult. I occasionally babysit for my neighbours, and that's between £12 and £20 a time, depending on how long it's for, but it's never more than once a week and more likely once a month, so that kind of money doesn't really have an impact. And once you have that money, are you really going to spend it on an editor? Or are you going to make sure you can continue to eat food and have lights that go on and hot water for showers and washing up when you're living hand to mouth? Anyway, I think you grossly underestimate the number of hours it would take. 30 hours at minimum wage is £182.40. Not enough for that $600/£400 editor.

    I can understand that putting work out there without professional editing has the potential to harm your reputation. I get that. But for some of us, at the moment, we simply aren't earning enough to spend that kind of money on what is at the moment a hobby, even as an investment. So we look for other ways of getting the same thing for free - like trading beta reads and getting friends and family so sense check or proofread. Get enough input from enough people with some writing experience, like people on this and other forums, then even if you can't afford to spend thousands on professional editing, it can be tight, it can be good.

    If anything, though, this is an argument in favour of traditional publishing. Traditional publishers will foot the bill for editing, even if that translates as smaller royalties down the line, meaning you don't have to find money you can't afford to spend before publication.
     
  5. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    Indeed, Chilari. The kind of money to hire professional editors and artists - even marketers, potentially - for a novel just isn't something you can pick up on the side through a part-time job or ethically questionable acts in alleyways. I'm not getting a spare dollar until at least both my husband and I have a full-time job, and when we do? Frankly, for all that I love to write, my first priority is hiring an immigrations lawyer, because right now I am living in a different country. Every dollar we have over the cost of rent and groceries - usually about $30 to $50 a month - pays for the train ticket for us to see each other for a few days. Maybe in a year and change, once I can live in Canada and I've found a new job here (since I'll have to give up any job I find in Washington to live with my husband), I can save up that sort of money... but right now, I have to wait to self-publish. And frankly, while I'm sitting on this novella, I'm working on a novel that, yeah, I'll probably seek to traditionally publish. Because I want to get my work out there one day, but I just don't have the money to pay for anything more than postage right now.

    Though there is always the Kickstarter option. Relies on some damn good marketing tactics, having a friend with a good camera and maybe some basic film editing skills, some strong excerpts, and ideally some concept art, but I was pretty inspired by how many people donated to The Girl Who Would Be King, so let it be said that it's not impossible.
     
  6. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I'll probably put around $1000 into my self published book. Expenses that I know I have:

    $400 for cover art
    $200 (minimum) for manuscript review by editor
    $100 (or thereabouts) establishment of domain and web hosting for website

    I'm budgeting at least another $300 for miscellaneous costs. I'll need business cards, and I might end up paying for some advertising. I might need to hire a graphic artist to complete the cover.

    Could I get by with less? Probably. I want to represent myself as a professional though. It's important to me that I'm sure I'm not putting out a crap product.

    There are very few ways to make money that do not require some kind of investment.
     
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Great discussion everyone.

    I'm moving this to the Publishing forum.
     
    Black Dragon likes this.
  8. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    It's absurd how many over-qualified people are applying for low-level jobs too. I have my master degree in mathematics (no way of getting to a doctorate because of distance and money to institutions that offer it) so I am stuck with being qualified for adjunct faculty jobs (part-time professor) and full-time at community/technical schools.

    But every job I've applied to for the last three years has had hundreds of applications with DOZENS of doctorates applying! I consider myself lucky to have two part-time jobs--the second I only got 8 months after I submitted my application (my guess is they went through all the people that applied and when they left the job (high turn-over rate) they finally came to me).
     
  9. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    In the four months I was unemployed I must have applied for nearly a hundred jobs. I was asked to do a trial shift at a restaurant, who subsequently messed me around over money and never asked me back after the second shift (it was on a "come when we call" fill in sort of basis, and i suspect my age - being over 21 and thus subject to the higher minimum wage - that clinched that one), asked by Blockbusters back in the city I did my degree in to come for an interview (which I had to decline because I don't live anywhere near there any more), and eventually got an interview with my current boss. I still don't have a permanent contract though. No other interviews, dispite chasing up via phone and email almost every job I applied for. Some I was underqualified for, the majority I was vastly overqualified for.

    Anyway, enough of the jobhunting rant. It's the same for everyone looking for work at the moment.

    Editing aside, I don't know where I'll get money for other things like cover art, ISBN number, website and the rest; maybe I will try traditional publishing for all the royalties are worse and the marketing takes just as much effort. With all the up-front expenses of self-publishing, and the assumption evident in certain linked articles that self-pubbed books are probably crap and not worth the effort, it's starting once again to look like by far the best option. I can always return to self-pub at some point in the future if the traditional route doesn't pan out, when my fiance has made millions with his energy ideas and I've been promoted and risen by a pay bracket and I've won the Euromillions lottery and we've found something of immense value buried under all the junk in my fiance's mother's house*. ALL OF THESE THINGS WILL HAPPEN one day and we'll be super rich so just you watch out.

    *At least I'm using my archaeology degree - searching through my future mother-in-law's pantry and discovering items that went out of date longer and longer ago the deeper down and further back we go is really like an excavation, except without the seiving dirt for four hours a day to make sure we've not missed anything bit. I think we've reached 1996 now. And those were lentils - they last for ages. Before long we'll reach things without a date. We passed long ago the point at which Sainsbury's bags changed from white to orange, and are nearing the Somerfield bags - the supermarket that was in this town before Sainsbury's.
     
  10. Stuart John Evison

    Stuart John Evison Minstrel

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    I must admit with "Muddle Puddle and the Whistling Shell" I have had considerable professional help, that is I have very old friends who have been in the magazine publishing industry for over thirty years. It was an obvious move for me to consult them when I first considered getting the work published. To my relief when they saw and read the work they decided "you've got something really good here" and took for them a left field punt and became my publishers. It has taken ten months from that decision to getting it into Apple's bookstore. During that time it has been read by most of the staff that work there and if any editorial faults were evident they would have told me straight away. The main shareholder of the company even took it on holiday with him to read aloud to his grandchildren, he I know would certainly have told me in no uncertain terms if there was anything wrong with the prose, he's an absolute perfectionist.
    I know I have been extremely lucky so far in making my dream a reality but any one else given the same situation would surely have followed the same path. As I have said before the true test of whether the work is any good will be if it sells or not. If it starts getting significant numbers of downloads then we will consider going to hard copy and seek distribution deals.
    Take a look or even a punt and buy it, read it for yourselves, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to get feedback from fellow mythic scribes. Even if you all think it's rubbish that is at least a reaction better than being ignored.
    The book has not only been edited it has been designed and although I'm biased having written and illustrated it, I know it will pleasantly surprise the reader since it is not just what it first appears to be, that is a fairy tale.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2012
  11. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Chilari,

    I would agree that if you don't have the money to do self-publishing professionally then that's an argument for the traditional publishing route. If your writing is good and you get picked up you can always decide to self-pub at another time when you're more solvent.

    I wish most writers thought this way. The biggest problem with self-pubbing is the massive amount of crap flooding the market that should've never been published by any means.

    Many readers and writing professionals believe that if the work is good enough then it is published through a traditional house. For the vast majority of books, I agree that this is true. There are exceptions to this of course. Self-published authors who approach the work with the utmost dedication & professionalism can approach or near the level of reading & appearance that you get with a big 6 publisher. That takes more than just time & effort. It takes a financial investment.
    If the book looks amateurish (cover design & interior layout) chances are that readers will expect it to read amateurish. People do judge books by their covers.
    If you can't afford to do this part of the business well, just concentrate on the writing alone. If its good enough a publisher can handle the other business ends for you.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2012
  12. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    Last edited: Aug 30, 2012
  13. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    One route that I went that DID NOT PAN OUT for me was having a "publishing drive". Basically, sell your books before you print them. Now that Kickstarter is up, I would recommend going that route and just "charge" (by rewarding their investment) whatever it would cost you to print them and send them to that person. Make sure that you don't go to the presses unless you've earned enough money to cover the expenses of getting enough books to start working with. The only big issue I see with Kickstarter is that you have to put a time limit to get up to the required total investment.

    I never made enough money with my non-Kickstarter publishing drive, so I ended up offering refunds or a spiral-bound "pre-publication" galley version to the people that bought copies.
     
  14. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    There's no reason to do a print run nowadays, and you can certainly sell preorders for your POD book. I'm planning on doing that: offering to send autographed copies if you order it through my website.
     
  15. yachtcaptcolby

    yachtcaptcolby Minstrel

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    In regard to editing and cover art, I'd advise you to network. I'm a good editor myself, so I trade editing tasks with other good editors I've befriended. And I write and edit for the artist who did my cover, so that was free. All us little guys are in the same boat, so it makes sense to make friends with people that are willing to help each other out.
     
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  16. Stuart John Evison

    Stuart John Evison Minstrel

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    I could not agree more, without the encouragement and help of talented friends I for one would not have gotten as far as I have with my own work and I shall keep plugging it here for as long as you all will put up with it.
    iTunes - Books - Muddle Puddle & the Whistling Shell by Stuart Evison
     
  17. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

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    Not sure if it is any help but Lulu.com give you a free ISBN. In fact if you purchase your own ISBN and wish to use it you must pay for their global reach package ( which last time I looked was $79). If you wish to just use their ISBN and sell it through them on lulu and amazon (or just lulu) it is a free ISBN.

    I am not sure about create space but it may be the same. Of course Kindle is free. I know Vistaprint were offering cheap business cards and a free website but I think that may end today.

    You could search for photographers/art students who want the experience and portfolio entry. I had an offer from the partner of a friend of mine to do the cover art she is working on for free if she can put it in her portfolio for her business and I give her a bit of publicity. You could probably get a website for free or promote on facebook/google or whatever.
     
  18. Going back to the second post, I don't feel I need to ask anyone's permission to make decisions about my budget, regardless of what I own. But thanks for the snark.
     
  19. robertbevan

    robertbevan Troubadour

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    i didn't pay for editing or cover art. i found another writer on a different forum, and we did a beta swap. she suffered through three drafts of my book. she was great. she caught the sorts of things that spellchecker can't reign/rein, canvas/canvass, those sorts of things, and gave me a whole lot of "this paragraph is really confusing" and "come on, bob... you can do better than that" sort of comments. and of course, i did the same for her.

    as for the cover, i came close to paying for a professional cover artist, but then i got an idea for what i thought was a cool cover, and my brother in law took care of the photographing and photoshopping. a professional probably would have gone with a different font, but i'm happy with how the cover came out.
     
  20. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    One other thing I would suggest. If you think your work is gold but don't have the money to do all the post-writing stuff to make your novel great, submit it to a traditional publisher. Why not? try shopping your work for a year. While you're doing it, start on the second novel. Also, invite more people to beta read your novel and offer feedback. After a year, even if no publisher bites, you'll have a highly polished book for free. And perhaps a bit more money to invest into a cover.

    You're welcome? Sometimes I can come off a little strong, but I do it with the best intentions in mind.
     
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