Thursday, November 21, 2013

Watch Out for the Shysters of Self-Publishing

Like any business environment you have those who run nothing more than a racket as publishers. I have more authors show up to meetings to discuss their attempts at self-publishing that were abysmal failures. The common complaint goes like this: "I spent $10,000 at XXX publisher and never received a thin dime in royalties." Now there are some common self-publishers whose famous names could easily be used in place of the XXX's (and if you want to know their names, call me at 916-300-8012). It is sickening to see authors spend that kind of money to have not nothing financially to show for it, but also have some unattractive products.

Now I would, of course, love to prevent authors from throwing money literally down the drain, but then these same authors think I have an agenda and may feel my warnings are dubious. Well, of course I'm trying to earn a living as a publisher, and 3L Publishing is doing great; but it really does bother me to hear these shameful stories of scams that result in nothing more than low-end books that don't sell.

Here is typically how the scam stories go, and this information should be on-hand as you make a decision about what publisher to use to produce your book if you plan to use a self-publish or hybrid model like 3L's business model.

Editor or English Student? The worst and most blatant offense comes in the form of weak editing. The question you want to ask any publisher your approach (and this is key): how many sets of well-qualified eyes will review my manuscript? And the well-qualified eyes part is the most important thing. Are you getting an entry-level English grad? Or worse a high school student taking AP English? Your alarm bells should sound if editing services are cheap. For example, a $500 editing job on a 200-page book should send you running far, far away. Well-qualified editors are not cheap labor. They typically have a BA in English or communications, and should have another five-plus years of experience on the job to be an actual editor. Lower-end positions such as editorial assistant would be the positions for students or interns. Nothing will set your anger on fire than typos on your back-cover copy, and with "low-rent" editors expect such egregious mistakes. Now back to the old "bold" statement ...

How many sets of well-qualified eyes are reviewing your manuscript? If you're getting ONE editor, please note: you need more than one person to review a manuscript. The first editor is the "big picture" reviewer who looks for the larger writing and syntax mistakes. The first editor will spend the most time on your manuscript methodically going through it and providing advice or doing revisions. Once he or she completes that process, they will now qualify for what I call "tired eyes" that are not longer useful eyes on that book. Tired eyes are really snow-blind eyes that can't see the mistakes anymore. Tired eyes know what are mistakes; but the problem is those tired eyes can't actually SEE those mistakes to catch them. Thus, a fresh set of eyes need to simply read the manuscript again. And finally the author gets his or her last look, and he or she will find mistakes, too.

In my next blog, I'm going to discuss the next self-publishing mistake: graphics!

Do you need to hire an editor? A well-qualified editor? Then call 3L Publishing at 916-300-8012 or send an email to

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