I've got a bit of news for authors of all stripes: "Indie" publishing is not a free pass.
The new technologies make it possible for writers to bypass the gate-keeping functions of literary agents, acquiring editors, copy/line editors and proofreaders. Writers/authors can now offer their products directly to the customer in digital form. Say what you will about the traditional publishing model, the fact is there was some measure of quality control. The absence of these standards in the new model is proving disastrous to, if not the viability, then the integrity of self-published or "indie" e-books.
According to Rich Adin in The Digital Reader:
"I have to admit that part of the problem is the poor quality of so many ebook offerings ... of every 10 ebooks I acquire, I am certain that 8 or 9 will be trashcanned within the first 30 pages of reading."
From An American Editor:
...I’m complaining about authors who don’t see the value in hiring a professional editor, authors who think they can both write a compelling story and either self-edit it or hire the next door neighbor to give it the editorial once over...
Writers are jumping at the opportunity to do it all themselves: write, edit, design covers, market and sell. They are happy to do away with publishers and other middlemen, reduce costs and take a bigger piece of the royalty pie. My contention is that while many authors attempt to do it all, they seldom can do it well. Nowhere is this as apparent as in the egregious lack of editing in many, some say the overwhelming majority, of these books. The ones I've read, with few exceptions, are so rife with errors that I wondered what on earth the author was thinking. Even authors who have been previously published by traditional houses and who decide to go the "indie" route are guilty of putting substandard, hastily slapped together, unedited and un-proofread books up for sale.
- Authors, when you do this, you disrespect the readers.
- When you disrespect the readers you lose them.
- Lost readers means lost sales.
- When you sell substandard books you undercut the very platform that makes your "indie" venture possible.
- Discerning readers will fall back on the names and houses they know they can depend on for at least some degree of quality control.
- E-books like yours will continue to be underpriced because no one wants to spend more than a few cents on a product that has a 10-1 chance of being unreadable.
- Reviewers will continue to discriminate against self-published e-books, and with good reason.
I'm giving some unsolicited advice to authors swarming to offer their e-wares to the public: Clean up your act. Have a competent reader proofread your book (at the very least) or have it professionally edited. Readers forgive a handful of errors in books, even in traditionally published print versions. A handful of errors on every page is unacceptable.