Today, author of The Grinding, Matt Dinniman is guest posting about self-publishing. I loved what he had to say.
Pins in a Needle Stack
I’m scared of self-published books. There, I said it.
Sure, I’m a writer. But I’m a reader first. And I’m wearing my reader hat today.
It seems a bit inappropriate throwing this out in a blog that often features self-published work. For every Wool (great series, by the way by Hugh Howey), we have literally thousands upon thousands of books raining from the sky every day now by self-published authors that are completely unreadable. The great revolution that was supposed to tear down the Big Six publishers has been clogged and stalled by a choking number of works flooding Amazon at the same speed we’re putting videos of our cats up on YouTube.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying self-publishing is bad. I’m not saying it’s not a viable, even preferable alternative to the more traditional route. Just get your work edited. And not by your wife or your aunt Trudy. By someone who knows what they’re doing.
As a reader, the unedited slurry that is cluttering Amazon is making me very hesitant to try a self-published book by an author I never heard of. Reviews on Amazon have become almost useless because most of these books have 5, 10, 100 glowing, 5-star reviews that were either bought for or helpfully added by well-meaning friends. Yes, I can usually read a sample—and that’s what I do, nowadays—but that takes time. I end up reading less books.
And reading self-published and small press books is what I prefer to read. That’s where the grit is, the stories that get under my skin. But man, it’s like trying to dig through a stack of needles to find a pin.
The act of reading a new book by a new author is usually a joyful thing for me. A nuanced phrase, or a dangling mystery usually makes me turn the page. It keeps me up at night. But only if I trust the author. Sadly, it’s getting harder and harder to do that. Spelling mistakes on the first page are easy to spot, and those books are easy to discard. The bad ones are the well-written stories that have more complicated issues. I’ve read too many novels where a mystery is never solved. A plot stalls. A story that starts way too soon. Or worse, ends right when it’s supposed to start.
All things a good editor can find and help fix.
So what I’m getting at is, just because the jerks in New York rejected your vision, it doesn't mean they did it because of your vision. Maybe your story is an unedited mess. Or maybe—and I see this a whole lot—it is grammatically perfect. Pristine. But it was edited by your grammar ninja friend who knows nothing about pacing and voice and breathing life into a story, and the shattered, grammatically impeccable shell of a novel that limps onto your Amazon page is a boring husk of bundled crap.
But the story is there. The bestseller is hidden in the words. But like the doting the mother who doesn't see her own child’s flaws, a neutral, third-party has to look at it to know how to fix it. Get the damn thing edited. For all of our sakes, please.
Thank you for guest posting Matt Dinniman! To learn more about Matt and his book The Grinding, and to enter a giveaway, keep reading.
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About the Author:
Matt Dinniman is an artist and writer from Seattle, Washington. He is the author of The Shivered Sky, Trailer Park Fairy Tales, and The Grinding. When he isn't writing, he is the owner of Collage-O-rama, LLC, a company dedicated to bringing cats with mustaches to the general public.