Posts Tagged ‘Self-Publishing’

Has the Editing Process Hit a New Low?

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Critics of self-publishing often cite “quality editing”—or a lack thereof—as one of the main reasons why traditionally published books are superior products to their independent counterparts. True, many self-published books don’t pass the test when reviewed in terms of structure or basic grammar and punctuation. But I believe a significant percentage of books coming from large, conventional publishing houses are simply not up to scratch either.

No matter what way a book is published—be it self-published or traditionally published—there is simply no excuse for sloppy editing, especially basic typos and errors. Having said that, no matter how thoroughly a book is edited, it is seldom that a first-print edition doesn’t have at least a couple of medium-large errors amongst its pages (I too must raise a guilty hand. Lord of the Rams went through a rigorous review process by a number of experienced editors, but a few errors still made it into the final copy).

But when a book is so full of basic errors that it begins to prove distracting from the text, one really has to question the quality review process.

In truth, I haven’t read enough self-published books to comment on the standard of editing of same. But I read a considerable amount of traditionally published titles (in a wide range of genres) and my experiences suggest that quality control from some publishers is in need of considerable improvement—especially in books published in Ireland the UK. And let’s not forget that traditional publishing houses have finances and resources available to them that a self-published author does not—making such mistakes all the more unforgivable.

I recently read a UK-published memoir (which will remain nameless) that is by far the most poorly edited book I have ever happened upon. After noticing one deplorable error after the other, I eventually began writing down some of the mistakes I spotted.

This is just a handful of the offending items:

“Sylvesterr Stallone” Page 133

“Brian Denehy” [incorrect] then three lines later “Brian Dennehy” [correct] Page 134

“… let alone turn up turning up on the doorstep of a stranger …” Page 137

“And when I’d get therethey’d say …” Page 150

“… auditionedin front of …” Page 204

“… now standing iat the back of the hall.” Page 204

“… coming up two two months old …” Page 289

“… he met some of thestars …” Page 291

There were also an abundance of consistency issues with things like ellipses and quotation marks. Whilst these errors originally belonged to the author (and he must be apportioned a certain amount of the blame), ultimately it is up to the publisher to find and correct such errors. On this evidence, the author was severely let down by the publisher—I would expect a school child to spot some of the mistakes that are marked above. The publisher has since gone out of business, and perhaps this is the best news possible for authors and readers alike.

Purchase my comedy memoir Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide post and packaging).

A Comedy Classic

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

“All women are bastards.” Jimmy Collins—competent middle manager by day, suburban rockstar by night—has just been dumped. And he’s not taking it very well. Even a visit to his stylist can’t cheer him up. He decides to take control of the situation, convincing his friends to help him find the perfect girl—beautiful (but loyal), smart (but not too smart), confident (without being feminist), an expert bunmaker, who’s indifferent about shopping, enthusiastic about Star Trek and scornful of self-help books: the mythical babe who’s got it all—Superchick.

Happy New Year to all. In this month’s blog, I’m taking a look back at a classic book that began life as a self-published work—Superchick by Irish author Stephen J. Martin.

I first heard about Superchick while attending a self-publishing workshop in Dublin in early 2006. Given the subject matter of Lord of the Rams, the workshop host felt I would be interested in reading Stephen J. Martin’s debut novel. She wasn’t wrong.

As per the above product blurb, Superchick tells the story of Jimmy Collins and his search for the perfect woman. Originally self-published by Martin in 2002 while he was living in Australia, Superchick went on to sell thousands of copies via word-of-mouth reviews and recommendations. Martin draws on his experiences working in IT and singing in a Tokyo-based band to deliver a book that is packed with memorable characters, witty dialogue and laughs aplenty.

Those of you familiar with Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy will likely draw favourable comparisons with Martin’s work (coincidentally, Doyle originally self-published The Committments). In fact the Superchick book eventually found its way to a mainstream publisher (Mercier Press) and developed into a trilogy, with Rock and a Hard Place (2006) and Ride On (2007) bringing the saga to an end.

Although the follow-ups don’t match the magic of the original (but they certainly have their moments), here’s hoping Martin is working on something new within the humorous fiction genre. I’ve read a lot of so-called funny books over the years, and Superchick was perhaps the only one that lived up to—and exceeded—the publicity hype.

You can now purchase the first two books in the trilogy from http://www.mercierpress.ie for the ridiculously cheap price of just €3. So you know what you need to do!


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