≡ Menu

Confessions of an Ebook Convert

This originally appeared as a guest blog in author/publisher Zetta Brown’s highly informative column appearing regularly at the She Writes site for women writers.

On David, Goliath, Politics and the Environment

I love books. For decades I have read an average of three to five books a week and my walls are lined with bookcases. But, while I will always treasure every pristine or tattered member of my vast and precious book collection, I have happily joined the growing legions of ebook buyers for almost all my reading.

Why? To start with, I was born without a patience gene, and ebooks provide instant gratification. I don’t have to leave the house, rummage through a bookstore (used or new) or the library, wait for delivery, or get on a waiting list to borrow a solitary copy. When I’m lusting after a new book, why, zip, zap, zop and I can start reading. What’s not to love?

Another important reason is environmental. I’m a lifelong tree hugger, and after decades of worrying about my part in creating worldwide deforestation, I can assure myself that my ebook purchases are saving trees. And many agree that if you read more than four or five books a year, it is greener to use ebooks.

But to me the very best reason to buy ebooks is political.

I am convinced that the world has embarked on a cycle of change which could well shift the balance of power from large multinational corporations to the little guy. And ebooks, and the indie/self-publishing movement that ebooks have made possible, are right out there on the leading edge, just ahead of Occupy Wall Street and the 99% movement.

No matter how our work gets published, though, in order to compete successfully, our books need to be as professional, literate, compelling and error-free as anything put out by the Big 6 publishing giants. And, to put it bluntly, right now a painfully large number of self-published books simply don’t make the grade. The other painful fact is that these days the Big 6’s books often aren’t looking as polished and professional we we’ve come to expect.

Nevertheless, the Big 6 publishers, via several of their authors, are capitalizing on the fact that a lot of indie books are published carelessly and too soon by making a lot of interview and blog noise about poor ebook quality. So far there’s enough truth in what they’re saying to potentially affect your ebook sales.

Until recently, readers seemed willing to tolerate sloppy editing or poor character and plot development when a book cost $0.99 to $3.99, but I’ve been noticing more and more online reader reviews complaining about these things. They’re also much more likely to simply quit reading and delete a $0.99 or $3.99 book when grammatical errors and poor story development get too annoying. And there go your repeat sales.

The ebook transformation of the publishing industry is shaping up to be a David and Goliath confrontation, and self-publishing authors need to follow the example of book-loving indie publishers and keep the following thought in mind:

If you don’t have size and advanced weaponry in your favor, be sure you are really, really good at using a slingshot.

This means, among other things, that you need to get your criticism before you publish, not after.

Even if you’re really good at catching problems when you read books or critique fellow authors’ work, being your own (and only) editor is like being your own lawyer. Don’t!

If you can find a way to budget for it, it’s not hard to find good professional editors–either developmental editors who work with you on character and plot development while checking for technical problems, or copy/line editors, usually less expensive, who will make sure your book is free of errors.

A lot of editors of both kinds are fellow authors who are excited about the changing face of publishing and have a sense of mission, as I do, about supporting self-publishers.

If you’re working on a severely limited budget, though, you have alternatives.

There are very helpful self-editing classes , workshops and books out there. Romantic Times and Romance Writers of America offer good classes, to name just two.

If you go that route, then you’ll also want–and need–a respected literary editing reference book, like the Chicago Manual of Style or the Gregg Reference Manual. Preferably both. And you’ll need to stay current with the ever-evolving trends and tropes of your genre or niche.

And while friends and family, and even local English majors, could be an important part of your book’s growth, never, ever leave the your published work’s professional success solely in their hands.

Critique groups of writers, and fellow authors who are willing to be beta readers, are usually very important to a book’s development, whether you’re struggling with your first book or published many times over. And if you’re depending on your beta readers to make that all-important final read-through for accuracy and overall excellence, be sure they know it.

Conventional wisdom says that agents and editors will stop reading submitted manuscripts when they’ve discovered only three errors.

Readers might be a bit more tolerant, but if you’re building a career as an author, why take the chance? Show those precious people who pay for your book just how much you respect and appreciate them! Invest as much in correct use of the language, and in cleaning up other errors, as you do in developing your plot, characters and author voice.

This reader, to name just one, will be very grateful!

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

Recent Jobs (for all books edited, see Authors & Books)

Touches of Eden, edited Faith Freewoman
Have Wand, Will Travel, edited Faith Freewoman
Adventures of a Witchy Wallflower, editor Faith Freewoman
Once Bitten, Twice Shy, edited by Faith Freewoman
Heart of the Assassins, edited Faith Freewoman
Rusty Nail, edited Faith Freewoman
Breaking Hearts, editor Faith Freewoman
And I Love You, edited by Faith Freewoman
Leashed, edited Faith Freewoman
Gone to Hell, edited Faith Freewoman
Prey, editor Faith Freewoman
Confessions of a Witchy Wallflower, edited by Faith Freewoman
Revise and Re-Release Your Book, edited Faith Freewoman
What Matters Most, edited Faith Freewoman
Kissing Luca, editor Faith Freewoman
Moon Riders, edited by Faith Freewoman
Louder than Words, edited Faith Freewoman
Collisions of Time, edited Faith Freewoman
Wall of Victory, editor Faith Freewoman
Diamonds to Die For, edited by Faith Freewoman
St. Helena Santa, edited Faith Freewoman
Unmistaken, edited Faith Freewoman
The Christmas Angel, editor Faith Freewoman
A Pinot for Your Thoughts, edited by Faith Freewoman
Academy of Assassins, edited Faith Freewoman
The Angel of Eden Falls, edited Faith Freewoman
The Ruins of Destiny, editor Faith Freewoman
My One and Only, edited by Faith Freewoman
Bittersweet, edited Faith Freewoman
To Love an Earl Twice, edited Faith Freewoman
Bare Deception, editor Faith Freewoman
Flames of Hope, edited by Faith Freewoman
From this Fae Forward, edited Faith Freewoman
Gone to Hell, edited Faith Freewoman
Chasing Hindy, editor Faith Freewoman
To Have and to Howl, edited by Faith Freewoman
Unmistaken, edited Faith Freewoman
In Sickness and in Elf, edited Faith Freewoman
How to Sell Books by the Truckload at Amazon, editor Faith Freewoman
Atonement, edited by Faith Freewoman
From this Fae Forward, edited Faith Freewoman
Kissing Luca, edited Faith Freewoman
To Enthrall the Demon Lord, editor Faith Freewoman
Into the Sunrise, edited by Faith Freewoman
Scandal's Child, edited Faith Freewoman
Silver Ops, edited Faith Freewoman
A Taste of Eden, editor Faith Freewoman
Napa Crush, edited by Faith Freewoman
To Stir a Fae's Passion, edited Faith Freewoman
Complicity, edited Faith Freewoman
Unforgettable, editor Faith Freewoman
To Win a Demon's Love, edited by Faith Freewoman
Breaking Point, edited Faith Freewoman
Once Bitten, Twice Shy, edited Faith Freewoman
Two to Tango, editor Faith Freewoman
Rehumanized Drew, edited by Faith Freewoman
Forget Me, edited by Faith Freewoman
Tri, Editor Faith Freewoman
Lyz Exposed, editor Faith Freewoman
Lyz Orphaned, Editor Faith Freewoman
Death by Malice, edited Faith Freewoman
Protect Me, Editor Faith Freewoman
Royal Scandal, edited by Faith Freewoman
Trust Me, editor Faith Freewoman
Mine at Merlot, edited Faith Freewoman
Abandoned, edited Faith Freewoman
Educating Anthony, editor Faith Freewoman
Loving Vivienne, edited by Faith Freewoman
Cats, edited by Faith Freewoman
Druid Temptation, Editor Faith Freewoman
Blinded, editor Faith Freewoman
Royal Affair, Editor Faith Freewoman
Man Down, edited Faith Freewoman
Spurned, Editor Faith Freewoman
Royal Scandal, edited by Faith Freewoman
Ruins of Destiny, editor Faith Freewoman
Three Brooches, edited by Faith Freewoman
Timeless, edited Faith Freewoman
Two Much, Editor Faith Freewoman
Whisper, editor Faith Freewoman
Breaking Out, edited Faith Freewoman
Dance with Me, Editor Faith Freewoman
Holding Still, editor Faith Freewoman
Chaos Tamed, edited by Faith Freewoman
A Touch of TNT, edited by Faith Freewoman
Resisting Samantha, edited Faith Freewoman
You Were Mine at Merlot, editor Faith Freewoman
To Love an Earl Twice, Editor Faith Freewoman
Petit Madeleine, edited Faith Freewoman
Romancing Las Vegas, Editor Faith Freewoman
Element 63, edited by Faith Freewoman
The Siren's Call, editor Faith Freewoman
Burned, edited by Faith Freewoman
My Sweetest Sasha, edited Faith Freewoman
Family Love, Editor Faith Freewoman
All She Wanted, editor Faith Freewoman
Druid Surrender, edited by Faith Freewoman
Everly Gray boxed set, edited Faith Freewoman
Hidden Obsession, Editor Faith Freewoman
Backtrack, editor Faith Freewoman
Dha, edited by Faith Freewoman
Death by Design, edited Faith Freewoman
Ceann, Editor Faith Freewoman
Brush with Death, editor Faith Freewoman
Breach, edited by Faith Freewoman
Blood, Breath and Desire, edited Faith Freewoman
In Sickness and in Elf, Editor Faith Freewoman
Allied Operations, editor Faith Freewoman
To Capture a Highlander's Heart, edited by Faith Freewoman
A Wedding at Meadows Shore, edited Faith Freewoman
Beyond the Call of Duty, Editor Faith Freewoman
The Broken Brooch, editor Faith Freewoman
Eightball Two Three, edited by Faith Freewoman
Gotcha, edited Faith Freewoman
The Emerald Brooch, editor Faith Freewoman
The Pursuit, Editor Faith Freewoman
Beyond the Call of Duty, edited by Faith Freewoman
Sentinel Lost, edited Faith Freewoman
Brightness Calling, Editor Faith Freewoman
From the Ashes, editor Faith Freewoman
Ladies of Lortons Landing, edited by Faith Freewoman
The Stonecutter, edited Faith Freewoman
Behold the Man, Editor Faith Freewoman
Breaking Boundaries, editor Faith Freewoman
Champion of Entean, edited by Faith Freewoman
The Warrior, edited Faith Freewoman
Deep within the Shadows, Edited by Faith Freewoman
Marriage Under Fire, editor Faith Freewoman
Mark Me, edited by Faith Freewoman
Piggy Bank Blues, edited Faith Freewoman
A Perfect Wedding, Edited by Faith Freewoman
Captain's Orders, editor Faith Freewoman
A Perfect Dilemma, edited by Faith Freewoman
Captured, edited Faith Freewoman
The Chariot, Edited by Faith Freewoman
Electric Heat, editor Faith Freewoman
Finally Again, edited by Faith Freewoman
The Fool, edited Faith Freewoman
Illegal Motions, Edited by Faith Freewoman
The Fledgling, editor Faith Freewoman
A Touch of Intrigue, edited by Faith Freewoman
The Sapphire Brooch, edited Faith Freewoman
Shifter Wars, editor Faith Freewoman
Whisper in My Ear, Edited by Faith Freewoman
The Barbarian, edited by Faith Freewoman
Mind Sweeper, editor Faith Freewoman
Seal's Goal, edited Faith Freewoman
Coveted, Edited by Faith Freewoman
Sky Dancers, edited by Faith Freewoman
Afterlife, editor Faith Freewoman
Building Ties, edited Faith Freewoman
Edited by Faith Freewoman, Purest of the Breed
Edited by Faith Freewoman, Wolf at the Door
Edited Faith Freewoman, Breaking Ties
Edited by Faith Freewoman
Edited by Faith Freewoman, Apotheosis
Edited by Faith Freewoman, Seal the Deal
Edited by Faith Freewoman, A Touch of Revenge
Faith Freewoman Editor, Bloodline War
Faith Freewoman, Editor, A Perfect Mistake
Faith Freewoman, Editor, Seal My Destiny
Faith Freewoman, Editor, To Touch Poison
Faith Freewoman, Editor, Collared
Edited by Faith Freewoman, In His Eyes
Editor Faith Freewoman, Seal My Heart
Faith Freewoman, editor, The Warrior
Edited by Faith Freewoman, Breaking Away
Faith Freewoman, Editor, A Touch of Ice
Faith Freewoman, Editor, A Perfect Mess
Faith Freewoman, Fetched, Editor
Editor Faith Freewoman, Big Cats Don't Purr
Faith Freewoman, Editor, A Touch of Betrayal
Editor Faith Freewoman, The Shield
Faith Freewoman Editor, A Touch of Ice
Editor Faith Freewoman, Hounded
Editor Faith Freewoman, Caught in the Act
Faith Freewoman, Editor, Breaking Through
Editor Faith Freewoman, An Automated Death
Editor Faith Freewoman, The Calling
Edited Faith Freeewoman, Brave
Faith Freewoman, Editor, Seal Under Cover
Faith Freewoman Editor A Matter of the Heart
Faith Freewoman Editor, Mortal Bite
Edited by Faith Freewoman, Captive Hear
Faith Freewoman Editor, Groomed for Murder
Edited by Faith Freewoman, Place Between Worlds
Edited Faith Freewoman, Leashed
Edited by Faith Freewoman, Highlander's Heart
Edited by Faith Freewoman, Cry Sanctuary
Faith Freewoman Editor, Taming Raven
Edited by Faith Freewoman, Walkers
Faith Freewoman Editor, Hounded
Edited by Faith Freewoman, Highland Moonlignt
Faith Freewoman Editor, Fallen Seal Legacy
Edited Faith Freewoman, The Hierophant
Edited Faith Freewoman, This Fool's Journey