I don’t know why I’m surprised that poorly written books get published. Every time I finish a book that I considered a lousy read, I ask myself, How did that get published? That was my reaction to my most recent read, Francesca Segal’s The Innocents. It’s not a terrible book–it’s actually quite well written–but I found it as tedious as doing laundry or washing a car. I compared notes with other reviewers on Goodreads, and many shared my opinion. I realize that often it’s simply a matter of m.o.o. (matter of opinion). What one reader finds dull another might find moving or meaningful. Nevertheless, as an indie author, it’s frustrating to read something that I feel is inferior, yet it has been issued by a traditional publisher. But it’s the same situation with movies. A film needs financial backing from a studio or individual investors, so there has to be more than a few people who think the movie is a good idea, even though the end product might be lousy.
I make it a point to read my fellow indie authors, to support their efforts. Some of these reads I have found moving, meaningful, and even delightfully funny. But I have found that though an indie book is good, it might be poorly edited. This occurs too often. A poorly edited book can alienate the reader. Books issued by a traditional publisher are less inclined to contain errors, but occasionally I’ll come across one with gross mistakes. For example, The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson, has just been nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award. I liked the book but was appalled by the errors in the Spanish dialogue scattered throughout it. Of course most readers wouldn’t catch these errors, unless they read Spanish. Yet, though the book was obviously poorly edited, it is receiving a positive response.
Whether a book gets published traditionally is a subjective decision. But once a book has been accepted, the publisher should place an emphasis on issuing the best product. As an indie author, I know that my books are not perfect, but I have made a sincere effort to issue the best product I can. I have it edited and proofread numerous times.
I would love to have one of my books accepted by a traditional publishing house. I know that my work is good, as good as many of the traditionally published novels I’ve read. Being accepted by a publisher would have meaning for me and perhaps attract the wider readership that my books deserve. Many readers will not touch indie publications because of the rampant occurrences of poor editing. As indie authors, we need to make our product as free of errors as possible. It can make the difference between being read and enjoyed or being read and tossed aside.