Writers – Respect Your Readers #writingcommunity #selfpublishing

angry 1

I’ve seen a few tweets recently about the need for writers to hire professionals, be it editors, proofreaders, formatters or book cover designers. The reactions to these tweets seem to be split 50/50.

As an editor, obviously I believe that authors benefit from having their work professionally edited. I appreciate that the cost of this can be prohibitive. I’m not suggesting that authors shouldn’t write because they can’t afford to hire professionals. But that doesn’t mean you should publish.

I know this is going to be controversial, but I’m going to say it anyway. Unless you are 100% capable of editing, proofreading, formatting or design, then you should hire someone to do those things for you, because if you are expecting someone to pay for your books, then your books should be worth paying for.

Authors – the people who buy your books are not your critique group. They are not your beta readers. They are not your editors or proofreaders. They do not owe you anything. Your readers work to earn the money that they spend on your books. They deserve for those books to be worth what they’ve paid. I hear of far too many authors who say they can’t afford to pay professionals but they’ll publish anyway. I hear of far too many authors who think they don’t need advice. They think they can turn out a perfectly-formed book, without any feedback, any advice, any help.

You don’t have some god-given right to publish a book and expect people to pay for it. And anyone in the creative fields has to expect to spend a little money. Artists have to buy their paints and canvases. They may have to hire a venue if they want to exhibit. Musicians have to buy recording equipment, instruments, maybe hire a recording studio. They all have to work at their craft. Confectioners and bakers and dressmakers and potters and wood carvers and sculptors, they all have to invest and practise and learn. Why do some authors think they don’t?

Just because you can type a manuscript, put together a basic cover and upload it onto Amazon doesn’t mean you should or that you should expect other people to pay for the privilege of reading it.

Now this might come across as if I have something against self-publishing. I absolutely don’t. I’ve self-published. I work every day with authors that self-publish. Some of them are brilliant. Most of them write gripping, entertaining, fabulous books that I would choose to spend money on – but none of them would publish a first draft. And they’re always the ones who take advice, are willing to learn, who respect their readers.

I am heartily fed up of authors on Twitter saying that they can write what they want, how they want, and if people don’t like it, so what? OK, that’s fine, until you expect people to pay for it.

Getting a traditional publishing deal is hard, and often not the best way for a writer to publish anyway. There is absolutely nothing wrong with self-publishing. There are thousands of hard-working, talented, wonderful independent authors out there. They deserve to be successful, to have thousands of readers. They work at their craft. And they’re being let down by those other self-publishers who throw out sub-standard work.

One indie author told me that she can’t afford to hire an editor, or a proofreader. So she’s publishing as many books as she can, and using the reviews as free feedback. I find such disregard for your reader and their hard-earned cash hard to fathom.

Bad indie authors tarnish the reputation of all indie authors. Have some pride in your work, some pride in your industry. And above all, have some respect for your readers.

20 comments

  1. I agree totally. Life is too short to spend on reading shoddy manuscripts. When I submitted my first work to a copy editor, along with accompanying cheque, I thought she would send return comment saying that what I had written was the best thing she had ever read; that basically she would check punctuation and change word order for greater clarity. I had another think coming. She made my work into something that I am very proud of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A good editor can make such a difference – they can really help to make your work shine 🙂 I’m so glad you were able to appreciate your editor’s advice! Clients that can do so are a pleasure to work with.

      Like

  2.  “I find such disregard for your reader and their hard-earned cash hard to fathom.” I absolutely agree. Unprofessionally edited manuscripts are bad for the indy writers who publish them, bad for other indy writers, and disrespectful to readers and the industry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lucy 🙂 It’s a shame that a few bad apples spoil the reputations of other authors. It’s very frustrating as it just adds to the stigma there still is around self-publishing, and prevents readers from discovering some wonderful indie authors.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve just read a traditionally published novel that was full of awful dialogue tags and not a single contraction used in dialogue. Perhaps it’s an opportunity for indie authors to put out better work and show them up a bit!

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  4. Who publishes a first draft?! 😜

    Excellent advice! Thank you, Alison Williams!

    On Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 1:12 AM Alison Williams Writing wrote:

    > alisonewilliams posted: ” I’ve seen a few tweets recently about the need > for writers to hire professionals, be it editors, proofreaders, formatters > or book cover designers. The reactions to these tweets seem to be split > 50/50. As an editor, obviously I believe that authors bene” >

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Alison, I agree with you whole-heartedly on this. There is nothing more irritating than finding typos or grammatical errors in a published book. Newspapers these days drive me to distraction because as professional publishers they should employ suitably qualified staff to check their content. Many clearly do not.

    Last year I bought a ‘book’ by an author I enjoyed and respected, but it seemed like he had simply put together a bunch of blogs posts, and hadn’t looked at it again before publishing. On more than one occasion the content of one chapter appeared again at the beginning of another, and there was no ‘flow’. Needless to say, I won’t be buying any more of his books.

    I know from my own experiences how easy it is to make gaffs here and there, and that is why I always make sure my books are thoroughly edited by professionals before publication. As you so rightly say, show some respect for your reader!

    Liked by 1 person

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