Quality vs. Quantity

While perusing through KBoards a while ago, I came across this article written for Digital Book World. The author, Tom Chalmers, argues that self-publishers need to slow down their publishing schedule and focus on perfecting each book before releasing.

I’m inclined to agree. Some authors pump out books every six weeks. Sure, some of these “books” might not necessarily be full-length novels, but that doesn’t mean it takes any less energy perfecting it. While indie publishing is on the rise, there are still a good percentage of self-published books that still have the self-published stereotype tagged to it.

Horrible covers.
No editing.
Bad marketing.
Whiny authors.

In order to raise the standard of indie publishing, we need to craft books that look like they’re traditionally published. That’s not easy work, and it certainly takes time. There are a lot of authors who are able to produce quality books fast. We need more of these authors to help further change the view on self-publishing.

Jason Gurley
Joanna Penn
Hugh Howey
Sean Platt
Johnny B. Truant
David Wright

The flip side of this is that there are authors who think they’re producing quality books when in reality their books look self-published and not traditionally published. Readers shouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Looking through KBoards, you’ll find authors who count themselves in the “quality” publisher side when their signatures display covers that look like they were thrown together in Window’s Paint.

Traditional publishers make sure that they have a distinctive cover for each of their books. It’s part of the packaging that will catch people’s eye in bookstores and online. This is what self-publishers should also be striving for, even if our books might never be in physical bookstores.

But even in traditionally published books you find errors in editing. I’m reading The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. I’m not even 20% into the book and I’ve already found several errors.

Wrong tenses.
Omitted words.
Missing quotes.

This is a book that it not only written by one of the most prolific authors of our time, but also published by one of the biggest publishing companies in the country: Little, Brown and Company under Hachette Book Group.

While some indie authors may point to books like these as a way to justify the errors that slip-through in their own books, the difference is that Little, Brown would not have put out this book unless they thought it was 100% perfect. That doesn’t mean it is 100% perfect, but after all the edits and revisions they did on Cuckoo, they saw it as ready for publication. The same should be said for self-publishing. You shouldn’t ignore an error because “it’s just one little error” or because you don’t want to have to go through each format and change one missing quote. You should perfect your manuscript and refine it until you don’t see any errors. Sure, you’re going to miss some. J.K. Rowling misses some too. But I’m sure she didn’t see it when she submitted the book to her publisher. She saw it as perfect.

So no, you shouldn’t follow the publishing procedure of traditional publishers (about 18 months from acquisition to publication), but you shouldn’t be publishing anything until you’re 100% confident that it has no errors and after you’ve run a fine-tooth comb through it several times and passed it off to a professional editor, several proofreaders, and beta readers. They’ll catch errors you missed and it will only help you perfect your craft and become a better writer for the next book.

Quality Not Quantity for Self-Published Writers by Tom Chalmers

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