Are Self-Published Books Inferior to Professionally Published Books?
The article author lists three areas to evaluate: editing, cover design, and interior design and layout. The conclusion is that “For the most part, self-published books do not even come close to what a major publisher puts out.”
I will use the example of the self-pubbed “Class 5” trilogy by Michelle Diener. Absolutely incredible story line and characters! I love the “stories”, but I hate the “books”.
~ I am not focused on covers, so I’d say these are fine but not fantastic.
~ Text formatting: I bought the print versions, and they are a mess. Did the author not check every page of the layout before they went to print?
~ Then we get to what I as a reader notice most, the editing/proofing. That’s what affects my reading pleasure; errors pull me out of the story and reduce my concentration. These things are a godawful disaster! I found quite literally hundreds and hundreds of errors—typos, misspellings, wrong punctuation, wrong words, missing words. In all three books, so she did not learn from experience. I can barely reread these books because the text is so painful.
When I recommend the wonderful stories to others, I always have to include the caveat that they are a quality disaster and make the author seem incompetent and illiterate. Pay for an experienced and professional and expensive proofreader, Michelle!! Since her bio says she previously worked in publishing (without defining what type of work) I find it amazing that she damaged such great stories by putting out such unprofessional and poor quality books.
My opinion: One cannot consider all “self-published” books to be one homogenous group. It should be broken into:
1. Books previously published by a good publisher; rights have reverted to author, who then repubs the book. That book went through professional editing for original publication, so is already of good quality.
2. Newly written self-pubbed book by author with extensive positive prior experience at a major publisher. This author has developed their writing skills, has learned the value of experienced editing and professional cover art.
3. Books from self-pubbers who view writing as a profession needing training and mentoring and brutal critiquing and self-evaluation. These authors belong to professional writing organizations, they take classes, they participate in critiquing, they pay big bucks for very good editing, proofreading, formatting, and cover art. They invest in their “job”.
4. Books from an author who has only ever self-pubbed, does not have experience in the publishing industry, may or may not be a dedicated member of a writing organization. This author is far less likely to take classes, use crit partners, and really work to develop writing skills. Doesn’t want to waste money on editing or cover art; either skips editing completely or goes with the cheapest. These are the books that are very likely of poor quality. And there are a LOT of them–the biggest group within self-pubbing.
So, yes, I agree with the article that many if not most self-pubbed books are indeed inferior. But don’t tar them all with the same brush, when there are also a lot of excellent quality books that fall under the self-pubbed umbrella.