Why Self-Pubbed Books Get a Bad Rap

I always mean to read more self-published books. I’ve meant to for years. I feel like it’s important to be aware of what’s out there on the self-pubbed, indie, and traditional levels so I can be more informed and not look like an idiot when I talk to other people in the industry.

In that vein, I’ve been downloading free Kindle ebooks for years. However, I don’t use my Kindle very often and I haven’t touched a one of them. (I also download classics and the occasional free traditionally-pubbed book, and pick new books to read based on my mood.)

I may have never actually gotten around to it except I finally got around to looking at the Goodreads groups that I belong to, and I discovered that a couple of them offer read and review programs for all authors, self and indie and traditionally-pubbed, provided you can find a way to get an ebook copy to the volunteer reviewers for free. (I have Shards up for March.)

It’s a wonderful idea–authors get much needed eyes and feedback, and readers get free books. Now, I like free books as much as the next person, so when the group mods release the new books for the programs, I’ve been taking a look and volunteering when something catches my fancy. I’m in the middle of my second book that I’ve gotten through these programs, and both have been self-published.

And the editing is terrible. Both have editors mentioned on their copyright page, so I assume the authors paid someone to edit their book, and I am just horrified but how bad it is. Like, distractingly bad. I’ve read fanfiction with less punctuation errors. Some of it is content editing errors, such as saying the same thing two different ways, one right after the other, but most of it is grammar and punctuation. I don’t know if I’m more sensitive since I am an editor myself, but I can only take so many comma splices or improperly used semi-colons before I kind of want to set something on fire.

Part of me wants to write to the authors and implore them to find a better editor, someone who knows when they should use a comma versus a semi-colon and can discern if you’re using the right to/too/two.

But on the other hand, the guilt may not lie all with the editors. It’s why I almost prefer the authors I work with to not name me in the finished product. The thing about self-published works is that the author has the final say on everything. As an editor, I’ve made suggestions to authors that they’ve ignored. I’ve had authors who have rewritten all or part of stories after I’ve proofread them and published them without having them proofed again.

So maybe these people have perfectly creditable editors and just didn’t bother to go through a proper editing process before publishing their books. I don’t know. All I know is that if it were me, I’d be a little embarrassed at the quality of the book.

If you are self-publishing your book, please please please have someone proofread it before you publish it! I’m sure there are plenty of self-pubbed books out there that are just as clean as traditionally-pubbed books (which usually have a couple missing quotation marks and periods in them and are by no means perfect, but are mostly perfect), but my sampling thus far bodes ill.

How about you, Squiders? Do you read self-pubbed books too? What has your experience been like?

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