Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dear Self-Published Authors...

Hi there. How are you? I know we haven’t been on the best of terms lately. While I believe the self-publishing market has immense potential and has made publishing and the very idea of storytelling more democratic, the offerings I have read so far have left me feeling distinctly unimpressed. Some of this is down to my individual tastes being at odds with current market trends and some of this has been due to the quality of the material. We all have opinions and they’re seldom identical.

You are probably also aware of recent troubles in the blogging world with ties to self-published authors. From the catastrophic hate-fest of hypocrisy that is Stop The Goodreads Bullies to Lauren Pippa pulling her book from sale based on a 2 star review and blaming her lies about death threats on her PMS, it’s safe to say that things have been somewhat tense for us all. We’ve talked about these issues before on this site. I am featured on STGRB and described as being “pathetic” and a “monster”. It’s a blogging highlight for me, although I was extremely fortunate to have not been subjected to the stalking and harassment many other bloggers received from the site. I don’t want to kick up drama. I want to read books and start conversations, and a recent event involving another self-published author has led to this particular conversation.

After bursting onto the Amazon bestseller list in a matter of days, K.R. Caverly’s self-published debut “Shards Of Us” was pulled from publication. No trace of the book exists on Amazon and the author seems to have deleted all her online presence. I cannot for the life of me find any justification for why the author did this. Was it due to the many bad reviews the book received or did she pull it to sort out the heinous editing issues complained about in said reviews? Maybe we’ll find out in the future but for now, this cautionary tale leads me to the point I wish to make.

I am a reader. I am not your bloody editor.

When I buy a book, when I put my money down to make a purchase, I expect a certain level of quality. I don’t care if you are self-published or represented by the big six. Editing is a fundamental necessity of publishing. There is no excuse for rushing out your work and then expecting readers like me to pay for your unfiltered and unprepared first draft. I cannot imagine the naivety or arrogance required for anyone to think it’s acceptable for readers to be treated in such a way, much less the written word itself.

When a reader points out the lack of editing, that’s not bullying. That’s called criticism. They have every right to get angry about this too because they have certain expectations. Basic spell-checking and correct grammar isn’t a cute accessory to add to your story; it’s one of the foundations of your craft. If you as an author are honestly so offended by people pointing out your basic lack of care over your product then you’re probably in the wrong industry. If you pull your book to correct the mistakes then that’s a good step but you never should have published it in that state to begin with.

If you were to go onto Amazon and buy one of their special deal traditionally published books like “Life of Pi” or “Gone Girl” and found it to be littered with mistakes that distracted from the basic reading experience, you wouldn’t shrug and say “Eh, it was only 99c. Big deal.” You would wonder what on earth was going on and why anyone thought this was okay or in any way professional. The title of author comes with these basic guidelines. They’re not mandatory but they are common courtesy. You don’t get to treat your readers, your customers, as your editors. That’s not a privilege I particularly wish to pay for. Reviewers do not serve you. We don’t owe you good reviews, we don’t owe you editing tips, we owe you nothing.

I don’t know what Caverly is up to. Maybe one day she’ll return with a properly edited package. In the meantime, if she has decided that her product is not up to standards, then she owes everyone who bought the first draft of the book a refund. If she has pulled the novel due to the reviews then she just needs to grow up and understand the purpose of reviews. I hope that whatever you, self-published author, choose to do with your work in the future, that it will be dealt with in the appropriate manner. I truly love reading and reviewing books. I wouldn’t do it otherwise. Now go out there and dominate the market.


Ceilidh and The Book Lantern. 

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