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Monday, August 29, 2011

Edit! Oh, please edit!

Last week I reviewed an e-published book.  It was a fairly good story; some of the characters were strong and well-written, and the basic idea was a good one (if not highly original). 

Unfortunately, although the author's notes indicated that she had used an editor, there were piles of grammar and punctuation errors as well as some pretty glaring word usage problems. 

What could have been a decent book fell several notches short of acceptable.  It's always frustrating to see potential that isn't reached, and in this case, it was doubly so as a good proofreading and editing really isn't that difficult to accomplish.

As we venture into the brave new world of e-publishing, there is always going to be a conflict between speed and accessibility versus quality and preparation. 

I'm dealing with that issue right now.  My first book is written, has been completed for several years.  I could easily pop it onto Amazon or Barnes and Noble and get to work on promoting it.  However, in the last few years, I've gotten good advice from agents, editors and other writers about how to make my book even better.  I'm in the midst of implementing all that advice right now, and consequently it's taking some time. 

Am I wasting time in not putting my work out right away?  Some might say yes.  I can't in good conscience justify publishing--even e-publishing--any work that is less than my best.

So yes, I am going to continue working on my book, editing and polishing it.  When it does go before the world, I want it to be at its very best.

It may not be undergoing scrutiny by agents and editors, but I hope it looks as though it could.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

To E-Pub or Not to E-Pub?

If you've been following my blog with any regularity. . well, God bless you, because I've been so erratic in my posts lately. . .but anyway. . .

You'll know that the idea of e-publishing has been in my peripheral for some time now.  I can't think of an aspiring-to-be-published writer who doesn't at least consider the idea, even if he/she won't admit it.  Even those of us who loudly proclaim that WE are going to hold out for the elusive validation of traditional publication have our own dark nights of doubts when we accept that eventually we might have to cave and do it 'that' way.   (NOTE:  When I refer to e-publishing in this blog entry, I mean books that are self-published ONLY in an electronic format.  I don't include books that are available in both traditional format and electronic form.)

Why would a writer want to avoid e-publishing?  Well, here are a few of my own top reservations:

1)  The glut.  Since the advent of what is essentially free e-publishing on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble (among other sites), millions of books have been published that way. Compare that to the very small number of books that are traditionally published each year; the competition in the world of e-books is much fiercer.

2)  The quality.  I have found very few self-published e-books that entice me to read beyond the first few pages.  Whether or not you agree with the agent/editor system in traditional publishing, the evidence in support of their value cannot be denied.  Agents and editors are the gatekeepers of the printed word, and although sometimes I resent their selectiveness, when I read self-published e-books, I have to admit to a certain amount of gratitude for their discernment.  I refer to both quality of writing and plot and to the editing or lack thereof. When anyone can be published, does the value of each book plummet? Possibly.

3)  Publicity and promotion.  I know that the days of the book tour for every author are over.  I know that publishing houses are very chary with their promotion of new authors anymore.  But the idea of being completely responsible for publicizing and promoting my book is a little scary.  I can do it; I know about social media.  Though this is probably the least of my e-pub worries, it's still a concern.

4)  Closing the door.  Agents and editors have been declaring it to the heavens for over a year: don't bother querying a book that has already been e-published.  Therefore, once I e-publish my book, I am effectively deciding that it will never be published in a traditional format.   While I have no delusions of grandeur, making that decision isn't easy and can't be made lightly.  It kind of feels like giving up.  Maybe it's not. . .but I have to make peace with it.

After reading the reasons above, you may be wondering why on earth I would ever WANT to e-publish.  Well, there are some good points.  First of all, I would retain complete creative control of my work.  I would determine the price.  I would have the ability to promote it as much or as little as I wished. I wouldn't have to query an agent and then sell my work to a publishing house before I see it more widely read.  I could possibly gain enough of a following that an agent might be interested in representing my subsequent work.  And I would have the potential of making a little money on this book before I begin collecting Social Security.

I'm not quite there, but I'm almost sold.  I've comforted myself that I do have other books in the works, and just because I 'cave' (sorry, that's still how I see it right now!) on this book doesn't mean traditional publishing is out of the question for those books.

In preparation for taking this step, I'm setting some concrete goals.  I'll be establishing an author page soon (look for the link here).  I'm working on the final editing and re-write of FEARLESS.  And I'm planning to become a more aggressive promoter.

I'm interested; what would YOU do?