Self-Publishing Standards vs Legacy Standards I

I’m still trying to get over the fact that I am actually going to achieve my dream. 20 years ago, only rich authors self-published, and mostly through vanity presses. The internet has really opened a lot of options I wouldn’t have even considered 5 years ago. A cheap, easy way to get your own work out there for cheap consuming. The only problem I have is excruciatingly high standards. I don’t want to publish anything less than a traditional publisher would: that means minimal typos, and punctuation and grammar mistakes. I want to show that self-publishing doesn’t necessarily mean inferior quality.

Of course, the standards of today’s traditionally published books aren’t particularly high, either. So long as a publisher thinks a book will sell, they will publish it, regardless of the technical skills of the writer.

The other thing to consider is that self-published books are often a lot cheaper. They lack the expertise of professional editors, copyeditors, formatters, and cover designers. So do I give a reader what they pay for, or do I do my best to prove I’m just as good as a traditional author?

I’m a sucker for high standards. I’ll do my best, on my own, to be as good as a traditional publisher.

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8 thoughts on “Self-Publishing Standards vs Legacy Standards I

  1. The Daily Dabbler says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I just self-published my first two books with Amazon–The Line Between (Book 1) and The Next Cut (Book 2). It’s difficult being your own editor, graphic designer, etc., but it’s so worth it to finally see your completed book out there for others to enjoy. Good luck with your book.

    A. G. Desi


  2. Ilana DeBare says:

    Good point about the two sets of standards.

    My sense is that the vast majority of self-published books (at least the self-published e-books) have lots of typos, grammatical errors, misspellings, and is generally poorly written. Speaking purely subjectively as one reader, I find that a complete turn-off. It districts me, irritates me and totally destroys any confidence I have in the author. I would not pay to download a book if the excerpt was full of mistakes or poorly written.

    But then I was an English major…. 🙂

    My feeling is that if you take your writing seriously, you should invest in professional design for the cover and in some editing.


    • Lissa says:

      I feel my writing is already a pretty high standard and simply needs extra eyes to catch when I’m being too clever for my own good, or I’ve read the sentence so many times it makes perfect sense to me and not others. I was also an English major, and my partner was editor-in-chief of an online magazine with design skills, so he does my covers. My covers are simple, yet (I feel) effective – a self-published book doesn’t need to be as out there as a traditionally published book, so long as it’s eye catching. In fact, I find a lot of self-pubbed book covers extraordinarily tacky, overloaded with photoshop.
      Thanks very much for your comment. Let me ask you – would you download a self-published book without first reading an excerpt?


  3. Charlotte says:

    Good points. I do wholly agree about proofreading in particular – I’ve read a few self-published books lately that did really well in every area but proofreading, and it’s a shame. It really lets down the professionalism.

    On the other hand, I also picked up a free ebook last week that reached the virtual shelves via a legacy publisher. It was one of the worst books I’ve read in a long time. Proofreading was fine; plot, structure, characterisation, dialogue and style were not anywhere near fine. I thought, where was the editor for this? Why was this even published? So much for the supposedly higher standards of traditional publishing. I’m betting any self-published author with a healthy streak of perfectionism can do much, much better than that.


    • Lissa says:

      As I re-read the first book in my favourite series, I noticed three typos (missing speech marks and a spelling error) and a wrong name! This was in Vampire Academy. I was pretty surprised to find so many errors in and otherwise great novel. Then there’s entire novels that you wonder why they were even published because the idea is great but the execution is awful.
      Let’s hope authors such as you and I can help change this perception, that self-publishing is somehow not as worthy as traditional publishing.


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