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Posts Tagged ‘paid author services’

sunita coverIndependent, self publishing authors fall into two camps – those who are trying to make money and a name for themselves, and those who aren’t. I’m firmly in the latter camp these days, though I wasted a lot of time and youth trying to erect a tent in the former. Metaphor exhausted, we move on to consider the differences and similarities. Similarities first: both camps are trying to be taken seriously.

If you’re wanting to make money you need a piece of work that’s worthy of being read, but the same applies if you’re giving stuff away. A book is a piece of who you are, a snapshot of the inside of your head and we all like to present the best of ourselves, not because we’re fake and trying to pass off rubbish, but because we’re trying to be sincere, while at the same time fearing we might be coming across as gibbering idiots. So, the work needs to be well presented, because gibbering idiots do not present well. This equates to good grammar, spelling, and a complete absence of typos.

Grammar and spelling come down to education and experience. Typos,… well, there’s not a lot we can do about those by ourselves. In the self publishing world, typos are here to stay. Get used to it.

My own grammar follows the rules I learned for English O level circa 1975, which makes it perhaps a little staid, though tempered and influenced by the more daring examples set by my own reading experience, and what other authors seem to have got away with in the name of their art. The language I use comes from the voices in my head and I know when something really jangles there’s a problem with the grammar. Typos are a a different matter. Notice that? Notice what? Go back and read it again.

Typos are impossible to spot at spot at times, especially for the person committing the typo. The mind thinks it knows what should be there. It interprets, it simplifies information in order to give you the impression of what is there, rather than what is actually there.  This is interesting to anyone with a penchant for psychology and the nature of reality. Other than that it just makes us a target for pedants.

The best way of dealing with typos is to get someone else to read everything you’ve written before you post it. But I write about two hundred thousand words a year, and nobody loves me that much. You can pay for it, but if you’re not making money out of your writing why should you?

My last novel “The Price of Being With Sunita” picked up a generally complementary review recently, though this was attenuated somewhat by the comment that I’d managed to commit an even higher than average typo count for your average self published novel. This doesn’t surprise me as I’m still sweeping up typos from books I wrote a decade ago, and which I’ve already been through dozens of times. Fact: there’ll be fewer typos in Sunita ten years from now, but there’ll still be typos.

I know,… as writers we do the best we can, but as readers the experience of reading is best not jarred by typos. They cause a narrative pause, rather like a log-jam, or sometimes even a poke in the the eye. The reader thinks: what was that? Is that really what he meant? Have I missed something? Oh, it’s just a typo.

And of course none of the fatal errors thus far committed in this piece would be swept up by the red underlines of spelling checkers, so the writer is very much on his own. I don’t know what the solution to typos is, other than some form of cognitive re-wiring, but I do know what the solution isn’t:

The world of publishing has changed, with many self published books now becoming mainstream, thus teasing the rest of us with the possibilities of riches. And with these changes has grown up a new branch of the industry, one for want of a better phrase I shall call: “paid author services”. These services are offered by people who take money in exchange for work on presentation. They create nothing, but they’ll root out the typos in your manuscript, even offer you a marketing package, for a fee. But in all cases the money is flowing the wrong way, so far as the author is concerned, and my advice to my fellow independent authors is to be careful. The people offering paid author services now are the same people who worked in “vanity publishing” in last century, but whose aim is the same – to target the vulnerable and to part them from their money.

The author still trying to make money and a name might be tempted by those adverts for author services. They might think it a worthwhile investment in a brighter future and godlike recognition for their labours, when what in fact they are is a potential victim. The author in the other camp need not worry so much – we just do the best we can.

Remember, whatever kind of writing you do the three immutable laws of writing remain:

1) People pay you, the author, for your work.

2) If you can’t get people to pay for your work, it’s okay to give it away in exchange for a readership – no matter how small.

3) You, the author, never pay anyone anything. Ever. Period.

It’s particularly embarrassing to be picked up on my typos, having written in the past on how best to remove typos from your work. But, hey, nobody’s perfect. In a proper published book or even a newspaper article there’s this poor, underpaid minion called a sub-editor whose job it is to spear all those typos and make the author look good, look brilliant. But the self published independent doesn’t have that luxury. And if he’s giving his work away he’s not obliged to be able to afford that luxury either. All he has is his wits, and his sincerity. Self published works will contain typos. Guaranteed. It’s a pain in the arse, I know, but get over it.

In return what you get is a work straight from the author’s keyboard. You also get it cheap.

Sometimes you don’t pay for it at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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