You know what I think about shitty ebooks? It makes me want to start channeling Chef Gordon Ramsay. “Come on! What the BLEEP is wrong with you?”
What set me off? What transformed me from laid-back, easy going, tolerant and generally all ’round good ol’ gal and unleashed my inner-Mad Chef with a potty mouth?
Before I go totally off my nut, let me state, categorically, Stuart MacBride is one of my favorite authors. He’s on my recommended reads list, he’s made my two of my top ten lists, (here and here), and I’ve blogged about his books and characters. AND because I know how publishing houses work, the majority of my wrath is directed at
Yeah, that Harper-Collins. You know, the big publisher who curates fine fiction and offers so much value to authors and readers with their editing and covers and marketing and brand name? Yeah, that one.
HARPER-COLLINS–MORE SPECIFICALLY, HARPER-VOYAGER
When I bought my first Kindle the very first book I purchased was Shatter the Bones by Stuart MacBride. Paid a premium for it, too. Despite how little I knew then about ebook formatting, I knew that book was an utter embarrassment. I could make a better looking ebook by running a Word file through MobiPocket. Along with setting me on a journey of learning how to produce a fine-looking ebook, it also taught me the value of downloading samples. Thusly I learned how much contempt Harper-Collins has for its authors and readers. They put out some of the shittiest looking ebooks around.
So why I did buy Halfhead? It looked good and I’m an optimist. I thought, well, finally! HC realizes ebook readers deserve decently formatted ebooks. It wasn’t until I settled in for an enjoyable read that I realized
THEY DIDN’T PROOFREAD THE EBOOK!!!
So to channel my inner-Gordon: “What the BLEEP is BLEEPING wrong with you? Get the BLEEP out of my BLEEPING Kindle! You should be BLEEPING embarrassed! Come on!“
Split words, joined words, backward quote marks, mixed up homonyms, and no consistency in hyphenation. That’s proofreading 101. Halfhead is filled with mistakes a sixth grader could have spotted and fixed. It’s embarrassing.
My goal as a self-publisher is to produce a book with fewer than five typos/gaffes per 100,000 words. That’s a freakin’ high standard and damned near impossible to achieve, but it’s a standard borne of respect for authors, literature and readers. The only way to even get close to meeting that standard is to proofread the ebook until my eyeballs bleed. It means loading a PROOF COPY onto my Kindle and going through the book line by line, word by word, and punctuation mark by punctuation mark.
IT MEANS GIVING A SHIT.
Having not seen a HC contract, I have no idea what kind of royalties they are paying authors. I imagine it’s around 25% net (with publisher accounting that can mean only pennies per unit sold). So figure roughly that authors–for the privilege of being published by HC with all its supposed services and benefits–are giving up anywhere from 82.5% to 94% of the cover price. My question for Mr. MacBride (and any other HC author) is WHY? Why do you let them treat your work like this? Why do you let them abuse your readers with sub-par production? Proofreading is so elemental, so necessary, and to let a book go out the door without it is completely, utterly inexcusable.
ANY ENTITY THAT ALLOWS AN EBOOK TO GO LIVE WITHOUT BEING PROPERLY PROOFREAD DOES NOT DESERVE TO CALL ITSELF A PUBLISHER
No proofreading… Are you BLEEPING kidding me?