I am not just a writer. I am a book junkie. When I finish a novel, I desperately need my next ‘hit’ of fiction before the high of the last book wears off. As soon as I reach the acknowledgements, I immediately go to Amazon and peruse that section in the middle of the page, you know the section, the one that says “Customers also bought this.” I don’t look to see who the publisher is. I read the description and if it tickles my fancy, I’ll download a sample, and if it grabs me, I go right to “one-click” shopping, which, in my opinion, is the most dangerous phrase in the world.
So last weekend, I finished a book and was feverishly perusing descriptions. I picked a couple of novels that were thematically similar: split-second mistake and the aftermath that mistake causes within a family.
I poured myself a glass of wine and opened the first sample. The writing was actually quite good. Strong characters, proper word usage, nice vocab, etc. But I knew before I got to the end of the first page that I wouldn’t buy this book. You know why? Because of two minor problems: The quotation marks that led into the dialogue were backwards. ALL of them. Every last one. And there were giant gaping spaces
Between EVERY paragraph.
Now, I am not a book-formatting Nazi. But these two mistakes scream SELF-PUBLISHED! Don’t get me wrong. I love self-published authors. I AM one. And most self-published authors are just as talented as authors published by the Big 5. But the difference is that a traditional publishing house would NEVER allow those mistakes—those two minor mistakes which caused me to close that sample and purchase the other book.
As authors putting our own work out into the world, it is our responsibility to our readers to give them the best book we can. They are paying for it. Our readers deserve properly edited, properly formatted books. If we are going to self-publish, we must BECOME a publisher in every sense of the word. Being a publisher takes time. And energy. And patience. Hiring a good editor and a formatter will cost a bit of money. But our readers will thank us, and you know how? By buying our books.
Isn’t that why we write in the first place?
Bonus tip: If you’re looking for a good formatting company for print and digital books, I use MCWriting.