Since self-publishing's became so easy, it seems like suddenly everybody and their brother and sister became authors. Is it a good thing?
The surge of indie publishing the last few of years probably started out with published writers taking their unpublished novels out of the closet and self-publishing them because the industry made it so easy. They didn't have to go through the process of submitting the novels to publishers, wait months for the acception or rejection letter, and then wait about a year before they saw their books published.
Nowadays anyone can publish a book, but the truth is that good self-published books are few and far between. In fact, the majority of self-published books are pretty bad. Writing a good story and creating a professional looking book is hard work, and one of the unfortunate drawback is that authors have to deal with a lot of competition.
First of all, it has to be edited.
When I started doing book formatting, I had a manuscript sent to me to format to eBook. It was a 25 pages fantasy story. When I opened the manuscript, my editor program that I built into MS Word shut down within two minutes. There were so many grammatical errors in those few pages that the program was overwhelmed.
Second, the book has to be formatted, so the publishing sites could easily convert it to Epub or Mobi files that can be downloaded to Ereader devices. This book I mentioned had indents created by hitting the spacebar fifteen times and paragraph breaks by hitting enter three or four times. This creates a lot of empty spaces, which might show up as empty pages or half pages in the eBook. In this book there were no page breaks or linked chapters, so everything flowed as just one continuous chapter.
Third, be realistic. The author of this 25 pages book planned to sell the eBook for $4.99 on Amazon. (Yeah, right, dream on! Most authors have a hard time selling 300 pages, well edited and professionally formatted great stories for 99 cents, because of the millions of books flooding the publishing sites.)
I suggested to this author to have her book edited, and then have it formatted, book cover made and publish it as a short story for a more reasonable price. Boy, did I get an earful in return! She wrote, and I quote, "First of all, I didn't ask, and I don't want your advice. I was gonna pay you for the formatting, because others charge three times more than you, but I won't use your stinking service, because you put my hard work down. I ain't paying for editor either, my book is fine as it is."
Okay, I thought, have it your way, and I didn't even bother with a reply. A few days later I saw a post that the book was published, so curiosity got the better of me, and I looked. Well, the cover was just a pink page with a title written on it and the author's name. I bought the book for $2.99 (I wish I had donated that money to the animal shelter instead) and the interior of the "book" looked terrible. No title or copyright page, started right at chapter one and continued to the end. The story was not edited, half pages were missing as I predicted, so I quickly deleted it from my Kindle library. I should have return it for a refund, but I really hate to do that to anyone.
There was a big stink about the book on social sites, everyone and their sisters were probably bullied into sharing the posts. Out of curiosity I followed the progress and checked the book time to time, and to my utter surprise, the first 5-star review appeared a week later. Then another, and later four more. Two weeks later the one-star reviews started popping up though. Readers wrote short sentences who apparently didn't buy the book just read the free pages, such as, "What is this? A joke?" and "Who wrote this garbage? At least have the decency to edit what you publish!" or "You're giving indie authors a very bad name."
Well, the "book" was soon unpublished and after a very angry Facebook post that blamed the "stupid readers" and was loaded with words I don't want to repeat, the "author" deleted her profile and I haven't hear from her again.
This woman was an extreme example of what a self-published writer should not do. Let's be realistic here. Even if the story is great, there's a good chance that it won't sell like candy. Among the millions of books out there, even if it's a masterpiece, there's a good chance it will not be noticed, unless you can spend thousands on marketing.
Quality doesn't guarantee success anymore in the modern publishing business.
However, publishing a quality book is vital. Don't just put your hard work out there and hope for the best. Have your story edited, formatted, have a book cover made that is attractive and looks good in the thumbnail, and then publish it.
Promotion and marketing is the hardest part, which I haven't master yet. My books, like many others, are not doing well with sales. However, it gives me great satisfaction when a reader "finds my straw in the huge pile" and enjoys reading my story.
However, I can say that I'm very good at formatting any genre, including illustrated children's books, and because I learned the publishing site requirements inside-out, if you're planning to publish your book, I can help you with the process from start to finish.
If interested, take a look at my pages:
Erika M Szabo
Author of magical realism, fantasy and children's books, Publishing Coach at
Print & eBook