Monday, January 11, 2010

Mattresses and Self-Published Novels

Family visited for Christmas and they stayed a few days. Before my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew came I had to make sure everyone would have a place to sleep. I had been putting off buying another bed for my oldest son’s old room, but now I had to do something. I had been thinking about a daybed for a while, because I thought that would really look good, but the room is small and I didn’t want to spend much, so I decided on a twin mattress set and bed frame (it all looks nice without a headboard or footboard).
While the salesman – a very courteous man, by the way – was getting together the information needed for the sale, we had a discussion about mattresses. I bought the store brand mattress and he was saying how some people only want brand names. His comment got me to thinking about books and how some people won’t spend their money on a self-published novel while others are more than happy to give these books a chance.
I am here to say, “Self-published does not mean less than.” Now, granted, some self-published novels aren’t that great. I have one among the many books I purchased last year that I am not at all happy with. I read the description and the story sounded interesting and I liked the cover, but when the book arrived I opened it and saw what looks like miniature manuscript pages that were single spaced and no thought was given to alignment (justify equally aligns text on both left and right sides; the best look for any book). I was so very disappointed I spent my money on this book, but then I thought, “Oh well, the presentation is lacking but the story may be good.” So, I will read this book one day and I’m hoping it’s a story I’d give at least 4 stars on Amazon, because when I write my review I will mention the interior (people need to know what they’re thinking about spending their money on) which has already brought down the rating by one star at least. If writers who put their own books out there really care about their stories, then they should do their best to provide prospective readers with a quality product. Have the story edited by someone who isn’t just going to correct spellings or add a comma where it’s needed but will correct errors in sentence structure, make changes in wording or phrasing, point out contradictions, etc. Hire a skilled book designer (unless you’re familiar with QuarkXPress – I mean, you really know what you’re doing- or other software book designers use) and use acid-free natural or cream paper, not white. I guess some use white paper because it’s more cost- efficient, but, in my opinion, white paper looks like the copy and print paper I use for my printer and, for me, this type of paper takes away from the book. Also, the paper I prefer is easier on the eye than pure white. I say this as someone who has published a novel, but mostly as someone who loves to buy books. (I really need to get around to reading those bad boys). Doing the things I suggested will show respect for your work and your prospective customers. And, oh yeah, to be recognized as a publishing company buy a block of ISBN numbers (identifies the title) directly from R.R. Bowker. The person who purchases the ISBN holds the publishing rights. And don't forget the barcode.
Yes, there are a couple of typos in Choices (nothing that takes away from the story and I'm not sure if readers have noticed them). I felt really bad when I noticed the mistakes after the books were printed, and all I can say now is that I'll do much better next time. But this doesn't only happen with self-published novels. I have read quite a few books by mainstream publishers that didn't have just a few, but “numerous” typos and even one or two that looked like there was no time to put the manuscript into the hands of an editor. So, you see, no book publisher is perfect.
My son slept on the mattress I bought and he had no complaints. Just like a store brand mattress can be just as good as a well-known brand name mattress, a novel published by the author can be just as good as a novel produced by an established, well-known book publisher. So, if you don’t want to buy Choices because you don't care for YA fiction or you’re not into reading books with domestic violence or date rape (felt really bad about writing that, but I wanted to make a point) or the Christian element or whatever content it contains that doesn’t interest you, that’s cool; I understand. We all have our tastes in books. But if you don’t want to purchase a copy just because it was published by Kapri Books instead of Simon & Schuster or Hyperion or Knopf or Scholastic (I’m thinking of their PUSH imprint); just to name a few big book publishers out there (I own many of these publishers books, so please don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying anything against any of them), please reconsider and give my story a chance. I’d truly appreciate your support.