Have you heard any of these recently? If you have been following links in the Sunday Wash-up, the following statements will not be new.
‘Self published books are all dire.’
‘Self publish books are just vanity exercises.’
‘If you self publish your book it will be the kiss of death when finding an agent or publisher.’
And the list goes on and on. There are many out there who are pushing the self publishing medium because it appears to be a valuable way in allowing readers to vote with their cash on a book’s worth. Publishing houses that simply can no longer afford to risk investing in marginal titles are now watching the performance of this market and snapping up authors that have built viable platforms.
However one damming criticism of the e-book and self-published works is the vast difference in quality. A lack of copy-editing and editing is allowing books to go out and sink, but worse than that, is the negative effect that these sinkers produce on the authors and perception of all other self-published work. It is a lose-lose situation.
Decent editing takes time and time is money, so decent editing is expensive. Hence many aspiring authors due to lack of cash or knowledge push out raw work that may disappoint the purchaser and certainly will not inspire a vendor to stock it. Even on a no sale, no fee basis, shelf space is at a premium and stores NEED that space for books that will sell.
The thought struck me, ‘What if we could give an editing quill rating to indie books.’ The quantity of quills would stand for “This book has been reviewed by a professional editor and is of this quality”. To do this an organisation would need to be formed that books could be submitted to, for a fee, and receive a subsequent quill rating, say from zero to five quills.
To make it affordable, don’t edit the book, don’t rate the whole book. Instead a random section of a few thousand words from the whole book submission, along with a plot summary could be sent to associated editors (along with a portion of the fee). The work can be checked against a structured check list that forms standardised feedback. So if there are spelling mistakes then zero quill rating, if it’s flawless and well told, five quills. There has to be a clever editor out there who is up to the challenge of structuring such a check list.
So when an author receives less than four quills, he/she knows the work still needs polishing and where. It is then up to the author to seek help in those areas, either by investing in an editor or by seeking focused help from peers. He/she can always resubmit after polishing the work. There are significant benefits to this proposal.
- Authors do not waste their money on what are otherwise vanity runs.
- Buyers can tell which book is likely to give them the best experience.
- The overall perception of indie books would be of higher quality.
- Indie books do become the spring board for new authors.
- The query letter, slush pile, rejection, roundabout is broken.
- Traditional publishers and agents can focus on the five quill authors.
It then becomes a Win-Win-Win-Win situation for all, (author-agent-publisher-buyer).
Plus it opens up a new revenue stream for hard pressed editors, who maybe cannot pull the $1000 contract but could easily earn more in $50 contracts.
If you know of an editor or indie author, send them this, tweet this, dig and stumble it. If there is someone out there who understands the industry and can see the potential of this and not just for lining their own pockets, which is substantial, there just might be the glimmer of a working concept in these words.
Photo; Flight Feathers, cc Tifotter