Skip to main content

I've been a working writer for 25 years now, the last 20 as a novelist.

My salary consisted most often of 6% of the cover price of my books (if sold in the US in a regular retail outlet, less for lots of other reasons. Sold direct from publisher -- less. Sold overseas -- less. Sold overseas, direct from publisher -- less-less).

But extraordinary things happened over the last few years that all came together to create a market in which I get paid 65-70% of what readers pay for my book.

For the first time, authors are publishing their own work and actually making money at it. It's a wonderful, powerful feeling. (Also, making the power-elite publishers freak out, which is really nice for a change.)

One thing that's struck me is how the revolution in publishing has mirrored the whole Occupy movement. We -- the masses of authors, at least relatively speaking -- do the work of creating the product, and a handful of publishers' make the money. It's been that way forever.

Editors, agents, booksellers... they earn a living working in publishing. Not a great one, if you merely work in the bookstore, but still, a living. But often, the writer did not. Typical advance for a first-time writer in hardcover fiction -- $5,000. You were lucky if you ever saw another dime on top of that in royalties.

Now, the people creating the product are cutting out the publishers and keeping more of the money you pay for books.

Kindle Million Club

", Inc., today (Nov. 9) announced that David Baldacci, Amanda Hocking and Stephenie Meyer are the latest authors to join the Kindle Million Club, selling over 1 million paid copies of their books in the Kindle Store. They join 11 other authors in the Kindle Million Club: Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, Suzanne Collins, Michael Connelly, John Locke, Kathryn Stockett, Janet Evanovich and George R.R. Martin....

"As with John Locke before her, Amanda Hocking sold the majority of her 1 million Kindle books independently using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)....

MarketWatch -- The Wall Street Journal

Think about that. Amazon's self-publishing arm launched in 2007, but this year, it came into its own. Fourteen authors joined the Kindle Million Club this year, and of those fourteen, 2 authors put themselves there with self-published titles. That's a path to the bestseller lists we've never had before.

For years, traditionally published authors made fun of self-published ones. They were people who couldn't sell their books to real publishers. (Much as we bitch about publishers and their bad decisions, we held even more disdain for the self-published.)

"In addition... 12 KDP authors have sold more than 200,000 books and 30 KDP authors have sold more than 100,000 books."

Wall Street Journal

Now, a lot of us are enjoying being self-published.

Granted, we have another giant (Amazon), potentially very dangerous beast to contend with, but for now, it's Authors and Amazon working together, publishers on the other side. I'm sure once Amazon wrestles as much power  as it can from Publishers, Amazon will come after authors next. So for all our sakes, please support Barnes & Noble and any other online booksellers you can.

The Way It Used To Be

I heard a stat years ago that more new people got elected to the US Senate than made it onto the New York Times Bestseller List in the same time period. Sorry, have no idea where I heard it or if it's true, but it's too good not to use on this site.

It's always been hard to get published.

How hard?

A 95% rejection rate is probably a generous stat. I've heard editors who say it's as high as 99%. There were rigid gatekeepers -- not just the editors, but the agents who can help you reach an editor's desk at all. Ask anyone who's tried, how hard it is to get an agent to represent your work.

If you can get past all that, you still have to face the fact that a lot of the people in publishing --- not the editors, but the people on the business side -- just aren't very smart. They can kill any trend that turns hot. I mean, how many Vampire novels are out there right now? Because if one is a massive best-seller, we should convert half our line to Vampire books for the next five years. They sell, after all.

Remember, these are the same people who gave Sarah Palin a huge book deal. Bristol Palin. Bristol's baby-daddy. Need I go on? These decision-makers would be in charge of your career.

The Way It Is Now

But now, anyone can publish. (I'm not saying anyone should, but anyone could.) And the process of actually doing the publishing is incredibly easy.

Register with Amazon and Barnes & Noble, literally ten minutes or so on the computer, and within 24-48 hours, your book will be for sale online around the world.

What you write, how you write it, how you market it, title it, what your back cover copy is like, what your cover is like, how much you charge for it... all up to you, the author. We have never had this kind of control before, and it's a great feeling. A little scary, a little overwhelming at times, but great.

Want to Publish a Book?

I won't even tell you how to try to write one. That could take years. But publishing, I can explain.

First, get an editor. A real editor. Not your friend. Pay someone to edit your work. There's a lot of crap out there. Don't add to it. I have a couple of friends who do free-lance editing for small print houses and one who's been an editor for years at a big New York publishing house. (No, I did not know them before I became published. No, I was not published because of them. Sorry, but no, I will not send your book to the friend who works in the giant New York publishing house.)

I know the two small print people do editing work on the side for individuals, and if anyone wants e-mail addresses, just ask me privately and I'll put you in touch. Not sure if the New York editor is doing free-lance stuff or not, but I could ask.

What will you pay?

You'll find people online begging for editing work for $1.50 a page. Others for $2 a page and up. A lot depends on how clean the manuscript is and how much work needs to be done. Expect to send a first chapter and let the editor look at it and quote you a rate. Query two or three people. Look at the chapter they send back and see how you feel about what changes they made. Find someone you can work well with, who can make your work better.

You'll need a cover. Unless you have experience with design, pay someone to do your cover. You can get one for $75-$100 or so. Look over the designer's portfolio. Someone who does book covers. A lot of book covers. Find someone who does work you like. If you find a cover you adore, write the author and ask who does his/her covers. They'll probably write you back and tell you. There may be a cover credit line inside the e-book.

Stock art is cheap ($10 an image or so -- see , Shutterstock or Dreamstime) There is a ton of images available. It can take some time to find what you want, to figure out how to search and find what you want, but you can do it.

You want royalty-free art, which means you pay a set fee, like $10, for the art and can do basically whatever you want with it. Not a royalty -- a percentage every time the work is used, say when someone downloads your book. There's a ton of royalty-free art available.

 Remember most people will see your cover before anything else. If it looks cheap or amateurish, they won't look any closer. (Look through covers on Amazon. You'll see some really bad ones, some cheap ones, and some good ones.)

Also, realize most people will see your cover first in thumbnail size.
It really needs to look good in thumbnail size. You need strong images and big type. Otherwise, it looks like mush.

If you know nothing about creating a cover, hire a designer who does book covers and listen to the designer.

Same thing with back cover copy. I feel like I can do it, but I've been at least suggesting back cover copy for my own work for 20 years. I would hope most people who could write a book, could figure out how to write good back cover copy. There are tons of examples out there on published books. Go look at them.

Coding is supposedly pretty easy, maybe a bit annoying and time-consuming, but something most anyone can do, and instructions are available to help you at and Barnes & Noble. I don't do my own. My hands hurt a lot most of the time -- too many years on the computer -- so I save my computer time for writing and some surfing of the net.

But there are companies that will code your book for a fee. Others who will code the book, do the cover, proofread, basically send you a file that's ready to upload.

I'm paying $230-$260 for a company to take a print copy of one of my previously published books, scan it (expensive machine involved) proofread it, code it, do a cover, and return it to me ready to upload. I think that's a great bargain. I really don't want to tell you the company's name, because it's now taking about 5 weeks from start to finish for them to do that. They get busier all the time.

But they do a great job, and the site is . Plenty of other companies doing this. This is just the one I use. Great company. (Closed until New Year, doing computer upgrade.)

Most people load their work directly to Amazon, and as long as the price is $2.99 or above, you get 70% minus a small download fee, 40 cents or so, depending on the file size. If you price it from 99 cents to 2.98, you get 35%. Amazon is trying to keep prices from getting too cheap.

You can upload directly to Barnes and Noble and get 65% royalties, less if the price is below $2.99. But a lot of people upload to Smashwords instead, which will take a small cut of royalties and upload the book to B&N, Apple store, for Kobo, for Sony's e-reader, etc. It's a lot less of a hassle for you to have someone handle all these different venues, and the bulk of sales, I'm told, are at Amazon anyway.

The company scanning and coding my work has started its own Smashwords-type company, and I plan to use them in the future. Haven't had time yet. Just got my first two self-published titles up before Christmas. But their distribution company is: Epublishingworks . Again, closed until New Year, doing computer upgrade.

So, do all that, and you'll have a book. It's never been easier.

Make Any Money?

I don't know yet about earnings yet. I just uploaded my first two books within the last three weeks. I've heard you need 5-6 books to get any real traction with sales. So that people will buy one, like it and buy others from you.

A friend of mine has just finished her very first survey of self-published authors' earnings. You can see her results at Show Me The Money .  For books out on average 7 months, backlist titles republished by author are earning an average of $4,100. Original titles, same publishing time, an average of $12,500. That's not bad. I think my bestselling print published book earned about $22,000.

Very early in the game still. Who knows what will happen, except that more and more people will be publishing their own work and more and more people will own e-readers.

Amazon said last week that it's been selling Kindles at a pace of 1 million per week and expects to sell 6 million total this holiday season. That's a ton of new readers.

If this market is like any other in publishing, a handful of people, relatively speaking, will get out there early, establish themselves and sell well for a long, long time.

And tons of people will follow and not do nearly as well. That's the way it's always been in publishing. Right now, it's the early days, the Wild West of epubbing, one author said. Get out there and grab your territory while you can.

Want to find good, cheap books?

I won't write about how much I love my Kindle. Too many people already have, and I'll just say I do love it.

Told myself I'd spend less on books, because they almost always cost less in e-book form. And that's true. They do. But like everyone else who owns a Kindle, I'm buying more books than I used to, trying more new authors, getting those free first chapters and liking them and then buying the whole books.

You will spend more money, I swear. (Sorry.)

There is a fabulous website and subscription e-mail list called , full of titles, the bulk of which are free - $2.99 . Get it by e-mail, because a lot of the books are on sale only for a day. Great stuff here. Lots of different genres.

There will be a huge glut of books for free or 99 cents in the push to capture all those new e-reader owners at Christmas. One of the sites to which I belong, many authors, many genres, is having a big 99-cent sale starting Friday. You can check it out here: .

Amazon has a list that shows bestselling paid and free titles in tons of different genres. See the overall store Paid and Free Bestseller List here. Tons and tons of free books and 99-cent books.

Want A Job?

There are new jobs available for people to help authors publish their own works. People who are editing and copyediting. People who are coding work for upload to Amazon and B&N. People who are designing covers. People who are helping market. People handling the uploading to various sites for authors.

Could you do those things? Get out there and give it a try. Good luck to you.

Shameless Promotional Plug

My Christmas book, Twelve Days, is on sale for only 99-cents at Amazon or Barnes & Noble You can download the first chapter for free and give it a try. (As a reader, I love that about e-books.)

It's a sweet, touching story about an infertile couple whose marriage is falling apart when a social worker shows up at their door asking them to take in three abandoned children at Christmas. It was a Rita finalist, which is the romance writers' version of the Emmys.

Selling it at 99 cents, I get to keep about 40 cents per book. When my work originally sold in print for 6.99, I got 56 cents.

So this system is a great deal for self-publishing authors and for readers.

Originally posted to on Thu Dec 22, 2011 at 09:11 PM PST.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers.


Do you own own an e-reader?

46%28 votes
53%32 votes

| 60 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  The question is not how much the book costs (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WiseFerret, NYFM, Larsstephens, kurt, ladybug53

    to publish.

    The question is who is going to promote your book to the public.

    For certain niche categories, one can make just as much self-publishing as going with a publisher.

    For others, it might be a question of selling thousands of self-published books vs. selling tens of thousands of traditionally published books. You do the math.

    The internet has democratized publishing itself, but it has also democratized promotion. However, other than the notorious YouTube viral model, I believe it's not easy at all to break through the signal-to-noise ratio on one's own. You don't just have to make things like the cover yourself, you have to bring it to the public yourself.

    Still, this model can work in modest sustaining terms. I once knew a musician that made a pretty good living selling just 5000 CDs a year. This worked for him because he managed to figure out how to get to all 5000 people who would want to buy his music directly, and kept everything but the cost to record the music and press the CDs. But if he didn't know how to get to those people, it would have been an expensive vanity project.

    I support OWS. But that doesn't mean I support every dumb idea someone has about it.

    by kenlac on Thu Dec 22, 2011 at 09:28:49 PM PST

    •  Yes, you do have to find your audience (4+ / 0-)

      yourself. But the internet also gives you a venue to do that.

      And you get to decide for yourself how you promote it, if its promoted, instead of having some big publisher do it for you.

      •  The model might work better (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        for nonfiction...if one has a terrific (or terrifically new) approach to something...and the marketing chops to target the intended readership.

        For fiction...the most important factor is author recognition.  Your 20 years as a novelist must have garnered you some loyal readers, no?  And so you have a ready-made market in them.  

        A first-time novelist won't have that; a free chapter to decide whether to purchase is a help...but upon encountering a writer I've never read before, I skip randomly through the book, sampling a line of description here, a line or two of dialogue there.  If their novel passes this informal "sentence test" then I will probably buy it.  If not, back on the shelf it goes.

        •  Saying there's even a shelf. (0+ / 0-)

          If one self-publishes, the book may never see a physical shelf.

          There are many 'virtual shelves' out there. But your comment is an indicator that everyone's not as tuned into that model as the advocates of internet self-promotion would have us think.

          I support OWS. But that doesn't mean I support every dumb idea someone has about it.

          by kenlac on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 06:32:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  But the lack of a shelf is one (0+ / 0-)

            traditional publishers don't know how to address, either.

            We're on equal footing with them there. They have the same shelf space that we do.

            •  It's an unsettled world. (0+ / 0-)

              Most of my experience with this kind of thing is from the world of music rather than publishing. There are parallels. It's been great for some musicians but lousy for others.

              I support OWS. But that doesn't mean I support every dumb idea someone has about it.

              by kenlac on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 12:28:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  But one has to wonder if the traditional (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      publishers are up to this task today.  If they want to mark up a book price by 900% and market/distribute it the same way they would have 20 years ago, then really, what is their relevance?

      Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

      by Miggles on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 05:44:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They have been really slow to understand (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        just how much the market has changed and how fast it has changed.

        Having all that power... I think they believed they'd always have it. And they don't know.

        Publishers will say clearly and publicly that they don't know how to replicate online the experience of browsing the shelves in a physical bookstore, and that if readers don't do that, how will readers find new authors?

        Publishers used to pay for prime display space in bookstores. They pushed what they wanted and had so much more power over what readers noticed, what readers read.

        It's just not the same online. The space is limitless, but you can't buy that prime rack space at the register or in front of the doors as people walk in.

        •  I think "shelf space" to browse will be found in (0+ / 0-)

          online communities dedicated to the particular genre that is being shelved.  Websites like Goodreads will become more popular as readers seek new ways to discover authors.

          I can't begin to add up how many dollars I have spent on books since I joined the Dkos group, Readers and Book Lovers.  Readers will always find authors.  Even without a brick and mortar store.

          "I cannot live without books" -- Thomas Jefferson, 1815

          by Susan Grigsby on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 11:07:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Note To Human Beings: Good Returns Don't Last. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Youffraita, blueoasis, sillia

    You're living in a bubble. It will last single digits of years, not double. Take advantage of it and plan accordingly.

    Before the 2nd digit appears, ownership will have figured out how drive you back 3 places to the right of the decimal place where you belong.

    Earn, save and invest wisely during your brief, brief Sutter's Mill moment.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Dec 22, 2011 at 09:36:23 PM PST

    •  Amazon, I'm sure, will push back hard (7+ / 0-)

      after they've gotten the publishers out of the way.

      It'll be a whole new fight to see if authors can hold the line on royalty rates then.

      But who's to say we won't have our own avenues to reach readers that don't include Amazon then?

      I'm not saying I expect to get rich quick. I'm not a newbie to this game. Have seen too much.

      But it's a way of publishing we've never had before, and I'm excited and grateful.

      •  Best wishes for you ~ (0+ / 0-)

        FSM knows it's a tough business.  I forget his name, but one of the heads of the Hearst book division (back in the day) was quoted in Publishers Weekly as saying,

        "Publishing has never been a cash cow.  In fact, it's never even been a cash calf."

        I think that's a direct has been quite a while since I read it.  But he's right: publishing profit margins are fairly slim, with the bestsellers bankrolling all the other books & what you hope for is great backlist sales down the line, and (for midlist writers) a contribution to the bottom line: not even major profits, at least not in the short term.

        And fiction...oh, how fiction is fraught!  But you know that.

      •  P.S. I would very much like (0+ / 0-)

        to republish this to Readers & Book Lovers.  But I don't quite know how (i.e., not sure I have the power to do more than add it to the queue).  I will try, however; hope you don't mind.

  •  Be careful about contracts... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Melanie in IA, ladybug53

    specifically, about what rights (ownership, exclusivity, distribution channels/form of media, etc.) you retain.

    Anyway, I'm not a writer, but I find the posts on a blog called The Passive Voice very informative about the self-publishing wave that you describe.  That blogger has been very good about flagging traps & pitfalls in the contests and on the self-publishing sites that have proliferated recently.

    "Specialization is for insects." -- Heinlein

    by BachFan on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 04:15:04 AM PST

  •  I published on Kindle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Melanie in IA, ladybug53

    I've been writing as a hobby for years, but never had the time to pursue the whole publishing thing...lining up an agent, collecting rejection slips, etc. When I first discovered Kindle I uploaded one of my novels (The Cabin: A Time Travel Adventure.) Even with a placeholder cover and no promotion, it sold some copies both here and in Britain.
      I recently uploaded my second book (Eater of Souls: The Food.) It is a fairly serious novel about a young student who becomes a vampire, and the rural Florida Sheriff's detectives who hunt him.
      I'm not worried about Amazon squeezing the writers. Once ebooks really catch on, a writer will be able to sell from her own website. For writers like me, though, the big barrier to entry is promotion. There are a few million ebook readers and a writer has to build a fan base of twenty thousand or so to be successful.
      Meanwhile, I'll keep writing, knowing that at least some people will see my work.

  •  Excellent Summary! (5+ / 0-)

    I've been publishing since 1978, and the industry is amazingly dysfunctional.  I've started putting up some of my previously published short stories via Kindle and Smashwords, and I'm working on getting rights back to some of my o.p. novels.

    The stories are selling in small amounts, nothing that's going to do that much for my bank account. Even so, I find it very fulfilling to have this direct route to the readers.  Eager to get some novels on line and see how it goes.

    Your advice about getting your work professionally edited is spot on.

    "One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others." - Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898

    by Audio Guy on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 05:46:38 AM PST

  •  Publishers are ripping us off on ebooks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When an ebook costs more than a paperback they are clearly scamming us. I think authors putting their work directly on sale is a great idea. Cut out the vampires.

    We have "Nobel Peace Drones" creating terrorists one hellfire missile at a time

    by pathman on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 06:05:27 AM PST

  •  What should an author expect from an editor? (0+ / 0-)

    There is editing and copy editing, am I right? What do these functions entail?

    Thanks for the diary. Informative and interesting to this new author.

    (And no, I have no illusions of making money at this.)

    Wishing you Peace, Prosperity, Health, and Happiness in the New Year!

    by Melanie in IA on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 07:01:00 AM PST

    •  There are different levels of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Melanie in IA

      editing, and you should be clear on what you need and what you're hiring someone to do.

      Copyediting -- we've always referred to it as the lineedit -- is the line by line, word by word edit.

      Spelling, grammar, repetitive words, that sort of thing.

      The more involved editing -- how's your plot? Your characterization? That sort of thing. Is more involved and takes more skill. It might approach the level of being a book doctor.

      It all depends on how good a shape your book is in when you've done with it.

      Again, query two or three people. Send them a chapter. See what they do and what they want to charge you.  

  •  How do I tell? (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see where I could tell whether an author was receiving the high percentage on e-book sales.  Or are all the e-book sales on Amazon providing those high percentages to the authors?

    I'm not a writer, but I've been interested in this situation for a long time.  I buy a lot of books at a used book store - which means that the author is getting screwed.  I'd like to pay the authors directly for the books I read, sending between $5 and $10 for each book, but I don't see any way to achieve that.  I've even been kicking around the idea of creating a website specifically for that purpose (I'd call it, but I have yet to write the first line of code for that.  

    If I could be assured that authors would receive the greatest portion of the cost, I'd go buy the ebook versions for a lot of books, books I've already read.  I'd rather have the authors deal with compensating those who supported them in their work, than throw money at publishers in the hope that a few scraps might make it to the authors.

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 07:52:16 AM PST

    •  Amazon offers a service to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      print a copy of your book and sell it that way. There's information on their site about it but I haven't looked into it yet. No time really. Not sure what they're paying.

      And thank you for wanting to pay us for those used bookstore books. It's very kind of you.

      But I think used bookstores will all be gone soon. Much fewer copies of print books will be in circulation, and the economies of ebooks are so much stronger.

      No printing costs, no shipping costs, and biggest of all, no returns. Publishers traditionally print twice the books they actually sell of any title. Makes for a lot of inefficiencies and high costs.

      •  Not kind at all (0+ / 0-)

        It's that I feel like I'm stealing when the author doesn't get fair compensation. Plus, used bookstores aren't the only source for books. I am stunned by the number of books that can be (illegally) downloaded.

        I think a different approach is needed. I want excellent writers to have money raining down on them, no matter what technology is used for publication or distribution.

        I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

        by tle on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 03:23:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, I didn't answer part of your (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      Authors who are self-publishing are often listed as the publisher of the work on the main book's page. Those people are getting 70% if their price is $2.99 or higher.

      Traditional publishers are paying about 25% of cover price on digital sales, but it varies by publisher and by contract.

      Then, there are small press people who might be getting more and Amazon has its own program that's a hybrid between traditional publishing and self-publishing. I know the rates are higher than 25% and lower than 70%, but I honestly don't remember what friends told me they're getting in that program. It's really new.

  •  Copyediting is a MUST (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, BachFan, Melanie in IA

    at the very, very least! I have read some ebooks recently, very well-written ones, with stupid, careless word errors that to me are like a stab in the eye, pretty hard to concentrate on the story.

    The errors I'm seeing are things a spellchecker wouldn't catch--"two" instead of "too" for example but they are like a spot of mud on a beautiful dress, just ruining the effect.

    I worked in newspapers for a while and the rule there was that two different people not involved in the writing/editing process had to read over the final copy before it was sent off. If even one very careful sharp-eyed reader (who doesn't know your work) would go over the final version and look for these mud-blots it would produce a more professional result.

    ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

    by sillia on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 08:03:30 AM PST

    •  Yes, it is. It's amazing how many (0+ / 0-)

      people can read a book at all the different stages of publishing and still let and error creep in.

      My only defense is that proofreading 400 pages is really hard. Really hard. And as an author, we know the story so well, it's easy to read right past an error. Seeing what you think you said, what you mean to say, and not what you actually put on paper.

      That said, a lot of people are throwing up unedited work and selling it.

      And publishers are taking older work to which they claim to have the rights, scanning it and not proofing it the way they should, in a rush to try to hold onto the rights.

      •  Yes, it has to be a different person (0+ / 0-)

        the writer or editor, no matter how careful they are, can't see clearly what's on the page because they are thinking about it too hard, as you describe.

        I can't stand reading a book that is otherwise marvelous that has errors like that--it seems like an insult, an affront to the reader and to literature in general. And it interrupts the reading process and spoils the story. I agree that part of the reason for this sloppiness is the huge rush everybody's in. Quality falls by the wayside, unfortunately, but it doesn't have to be like that--it really is a simple matter to check...assuming you care.

        ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

        by sillia on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 09:22:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sillia, I know when a book of mine (0+ / 0-)

          ends up in print, it's gone through multiple layers of editing. I've proofread it multiple times. My editor has. The copyeditor has. The line editor has. After it's been typeset, it's read again twice.

          Still, you see an error here and there at times. Very frustrating.

          •  I'm talking about (0+ / 0-)

            a well-written, successful sci-fi book with one or two errors PER PAGE. Just horrifying.

            I write & edit a newsletter and I know there's no such thing as perfect no matter how hard you try, but there has to be the best possible effort. One way to do that is to get "fresh eyes" to look at it before publishing and that is where many digital publications are falling down, imo. They aren't taking the extra step of hiring or persuading an outside person to read through.

            ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

            by sillia on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 10:29:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh. Wow. Yeah, that's bad. (0+ / 0-)

              I don't know the book you're talking about, but I would guess either the author was really late turning the book in and the pub date had already been set and everything was rushed.

              Or the author did lots of revisions up to the last minute and everything was rushed. Plus, when you're still tinkering with a book at the galley stages... it's just really hard to not to put more errors in while either trying to fix stuff that's already there or still be tinkering with the story.

  •  What is it (0+ / 0-)

    that an editor does exactly?

    [and don't say they 'edit' books]

    Can you provide an example?

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 08:37:06 AM PST

    •  There are different levels of editing. (0+ / 0-)

      Editors will tell you there are holes in your plot, things that don't make sense, parts you left out that need to be in there, parts that don't move the story forward that you need to take out. Places where your characters act in a way that doesn't make sense.

      There are really a million different kinds of things an editor does on any given book.

      They'll make sure if it's Tuesday today in your book, then tomorrow, it's Wednesday, not Saturday. And if three weeks have gone by since your story started and you mention something about time later in the book, it's the right month or season. If you spelled Aidan like this in one place and like Aiden in another place. All sorts of continuity things.

      And they'll do spelling, grammar, repetitions, places that need more description... really a ton of different things.

      •  wow (0+ / 0-)

        I never knew.....

        The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

        by dfarrah on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 04:57:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not saying all authors need this. (0+ / 0-)

          Some of us manage to turn in really clean books. And some editors really like to stick their noses into authors' books. (Some of the editors are frustrated writers.)

          But books are complicated, and you can get lost in your own work. It's hard to ever get any distance from them, to see them the way a reader will.

          So a good editor is like gold. Very precious.

  •  I have refused to buy an ereader (0+ / 0-)

    because I honestly love the feel of a book in my hand, the smell, and a personal connection to the author in my mind. Now I know I must buy one because I rather see more writing out there and the money go to the people who work hard at writing them.

    For today August 9 I found a signature. I am a badger in heart today. Fight on Wisconsin.

    by the mom in the middle on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 10:04:57 AM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site