Bad Advice for Good Authors

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1106 Design

February 23, 2012

Ask any new business owner if they want to provide their customers with a quality product or service, and the answer will be a resounding “Yes!”

Why? Because anyone who pours their time, money and reputation into a business understands that success depends on happy customers. Businesses grow when satisfied customers become repeat customers and a steady source of referrals.

So why are very large names in the publishing industry turning a blind eye to these facts and helping self-publishers produce awful books?

Authors are told it’s OK to lay out their own book in Word, design their own cover, and upload text that has not been professionally edited or proofread. This approach may be OK if your book is a memoir to be enjoyed only by friends and family, but if your book is the cornerstone of a new business, it’s the worst possible advice. Those of us who have toiled for decades to produce quality books can only shake our heads in dismay.

For generations, publishers have followed a tried-and-true process to turn rough manuscripts into polished works of art. The need for fact checking, several levels of editing, quality cover design, meticulous interior typesetting, and multiple rounds of proofreading was not questioned.

Today, mix together one part personal computer, one part behemoth bookseller who has abandoned publishing standards in pursuit of the almighty buck, and a horde of gurus who don’t know what they’re talking about, and new self-publishers are served up the perfect recipe for failure.

Every author I know became a writer because they LOVED books. But the wonderful books we all loved in our youth are in danger of extinction. Specialists who know how to produce quality books are buried in search results by huge companies who have millions of dollars to spend on Internet marketing.

Before they find true craftsmen, hopeful authors are reeled in by self-publishing companies offering cheap package deals based on template covers and interiors used on thousands of other books. Nobody explains that these templates will look homemade when the author’s book is displayed next to the bestsellers on Amazon. Nor do they explain that the low prices are a classic bait and switch advertising technique. The moment an author requests changes to the template, the extra charges kick in, resulting in a boring cover that winds up costing just as much as a custom one.

True self-publishing is a worthy endeavor, but self-publishing today has been hijacked. The poor quality books flooding the market have, in many instances, made self-publishing a synonym for poor publishing.

This article isn’t really about technology, or templates, or new vs. old methods of production. It’s about the abandonment of basic business integrity.

At 1106 Design, we’re not going to follow the crowd. We can’t change what others do, but we can offer our clients top quality work, honest advice, and all the hand-holding they need to launch their book. May we help you?

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