Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Are You Ready to be a Writer?

Last month, I asked if you were ready for an editor. But this past week, I've had cause to wonder exactly who out there is publishing. There's more to writing than having a great story idea--particularly if you plan to self-publish. So now I feel the need to ask: Are you ready to be a writer?

Over the last several days, I've witnessed conversations among (self) published authors who didn't know proper punctuation, the difference between a noun and an adjective, or the necessity of chapters in a full-length novel. One author (whose book I purchased) spent a weekend announcing her book for sale, then had to tell everyone who acquired a copy to contact her to download a corrected copy after she began receiving complaints from customers regarding the proliferation of errors. She claimed she "uploaded the wrong version." Guess what? I didn't contact her. I'll read the version of her book that I bought and review it based on that same edition. Sound harsh to you? Maybe. But we're not talking about changing a cover or finding that the last chapter was missing. We're talking about laziness, carelessness, and ignorance.

Now, I understand that not everyone knows everything, and the occasional misplaced comma happens to us all. But if you plan to put your work out there for public scrutiny, either learn most of the basics or hire a mighty fine (and probably expensive) editor. Don't go it alone. And for God's sake, review your files before you make them available to the public! All the self-publishing platforms allow you a chance to re-read the work you've uploaded before you hit "Publish." On KDP, you get the opportunity to read it exactly as it appears on various versions of Kindle, CreateSpace will send you an actual print version (for a fee) or allow you to read the printed version online (for free) and Smashwords lets you download a pdf. So if an author tells you (s)he "uploaded the wrong version," (s)he either, (a.) didn't review the work before hitting that all important "Publish" button, or (b.) didn't know any better and didn't pay for an editor. Either way, you, the reader, suffers.

Maybe I'm pulling down the curtain, revealing the magician's secrets, but I'm not just an author, I'm a consumer. And I resent plunking down my hard-earned cash on a shoddy product. I may not always like a story for its plotline or its characters, but that's personal taste. I shouldn't dislike a product because it's poorly edited, poorly researched, or poorly written. That's like buying a new car and discovering that the engine inside only has enough working parts to take you a mile from the dealership.

There will always be crooks and get-rich-quick schemers and publishing has its share of sharks on both sides of the business. But if you're a true writer, you will learn your craft and do everything you can to provide the public with a quality product.


  1. A very interesting post, Gina, and so true. As someone who is thinking of self publishing in the near future, I agree an editor is a must. Not only is it good to have another set of eyes but a must. I need someone who is distant from my work to read it. I wonder what you think about all of those 'free' books they offer for the Nook. Seems to me there are a ton of them out there and I wonder if this doesn't hurt those of us who want to someday make a living from our writing. What do you think?

  2. I'll be honest, Chris. I've always been dead-set against "free" books by authors on a large scale. Like you, I felt it hurt those of us who want to be paid for creating a quality product. I also worry about the long-term effects of piracy on a free book.'s hard to argue with the success of such authors as Barbara Freethy who routinely allow one or two of her books to be downloaded for free and has seen her actual sales skyrocket across the board. Sometimes a "free" book can be the one marketing ploy that will get your work into the public eye. It's a decision I believe every writer must make for him/herself.