Tuesday, June 12, 2012

[Guest Post] Edited and Unedited Books By Shannon Mayer

Dividing Amazon into Edited and Un-edited Books
By Shannon Mayer

I’ve had several guest editors on my blog that have written about the importance of getting your work edited before you self publish. The general consensus is that (and I agree with this) all writers should have their work edited prior to self publishing.

But there is a conundrum when it comes to the market. Readers want books that are inexpensive and often won’t take a chance on a new author if the book is over .99. Readers are afraid to put money out for a book that isn’t put together well. I don’t blame them. I have seen a number of e-books by self published authors that are not only riddled with mistakes, but also look as if the author hasn’t cared to even attempt a proper e-book design.

You know, the book is missing things like chapters, an attempt at formatting, spell check. Basics that should be done no matter what you decide to charge.

So I don’t blame the readers one bit for not wanting to take a chance on an e-book. I get frustrated too.

There are authors who say that they can’t afford editors if they are only going to be putting the book up for .99. Their argument is something along the lines of what do you expect for a .99 book? Again, I can understand that. Let’s say you put $1000 worth of editing into a book (that’s not a lot by the way, that is a mid-low range of cost) and then you put your book up for .99. Under the current royalty rate at Amazon, you need to sell over 2800 books just to break even. That’s a lot of books, most authors won’t sell that in a full year.

But what if there was a different way to go about this? A way to, in a sense, reward authors who’ve taken the time and money to properly edit their books prior to publishing them?

Stay with me here. I know that there are flaws in what I’m about to suggest, but it’s an idea that may prove some merit if you give it a chance. If nothing else, it will start dialogue and through that perhaps ideas for change.

What if when you uploaded your book to Amazon (just for simplicities sake I’m going to use Amazon as my example) there was a section that said “Tag your Editor”. And then there was a list of *(1)*Editors registered with Amazon. You scroll through, find your editor and then tag them.

Editors would of course, send in their names as such, showing their credentials in some way.

In my case that would be Jessica Klassen and Melissa Breau.

Then Amazon sends an email to these to lovely gals asking for confirmation that they did indeed edit my work. They click on the “yes” button, and now my book has confirmation of being edited.

What would this accomplish you ask? Two things.

1.It would show readers that the book was, at the very least, edited giving them a higher confidence in it.

2.It would allow the author to charge a higher price for their book if they chose to.

You see, my idea is that if you aren’t an edited author, you can still publish your book, but you can’t charge more than .99 for it. Quality and cost can now intersect on Amazon.

In fact, to take this a step further, why not have Amazon break the Indie Authors into two sections? Edited and un-edited. That way the reader can decide where they want to spend their money and their time, with authors who *(2)* can’t/won’t/don’t edit or they can spend their money on authors who think enough of themselves and their work to put in a little time and effort.

If you have editors you could still choose to do a discount of .99 for your book, but again, readers would be able to see that you have CONFIRMATION of editing have been done.

Like I mentioned, there are flaws to my plan, but they could be worked out. This would give readers some idea of the quality of book they were purchasing and allow them to feel more at ease with a slightly higher price for an indie author’s book, which would in turn help the author make a living.

After what I’ve read in indie books, I can tell you that while there are a large number of authors who would never publish their book without editing, there are also a large number of authors who don’t, for a variety of reasons even make an attempt at having their work edited. The unfortunate part of this is that the people who need to get editing done are rarely the ones researching and finding out what the industry standard is, because if they were, there would be no need for this discussion.

*(1)*The editors would have to somehow prove that they were indeed legit before being able to get on the list and it could be broken down into country too. Perhaps they would have to supply Amazon with either a reg. Number from an editors association or proof of employment with a publisher or perhaps just website. I don’t know the answer to this one, it’s one of the flaws in my system that could easily be taken advantage of.

*(2)*There are a LOT of editors out there who are reasonable, I don’t think it’s a matter of can you afford to edit, but can you afford not to. Save your pennies, you can hire an editor, even if it’s for a single pass through the manuscript, it’s worth it.

About Shannon

Reading and writing from a very young age I learned early on that stories built in a fantasy world were where the fun was at. Reading books by Robert Jordan spurred me on and it was the first real epic fantasy that I fell in love with. After that came Piers Anthony, Melanie Rawn and into my older teen years, Anne Rice.

It was in Rice’s novels that the idea of urban fantasy really bloomed for me and it was about that time that my grandmother was letting me read her Harlequin Historical novels. (Okay, actually she was slipping them to me when my mother wasn’t looking, but let’s not get picky.)

The combination of love stories and darker fantasy stuck with me and it’s now not only what I gravitate towards to read on my off time (Kelly Armstrong, Laurell K Hamilton, Kim Harrison), but has become the style I love to write in.
Besides writing, I love to spend time with my family and animals, horseback ride, garden and hike with my husband.

Books by Shannon

Nevermore Trilogy

Celtic Legacy

Ingredients of a Cauldron


  1. This is a very interesting idea. I've heard lots of people complain about poorly edited indie books. I think I must have been very lucky - every indie book I've rad so far has ben great, just as good as a trad published book. I suppose my arguement would be that the option to sample a book on Amazon is often enough for readers to tell is a book is edited or not. However, anything that helps indie books dispell the myth that they are all unedited rubbish gets my vote!

  2. I love this line of thinking. I forwarded the link to my Indie Author loop because I think a "stamp of approval" of some sort is a wonderful idea. I have recently hired an editor myself, even though I cringe at the expense. It would be nice to have a way to let readers know the writing has been vetted.

  3. I really hate this idea.

    Not to mention that many indies hires "editors" that have no real qualifications and their books end up with more issues than someone who went through a couple of beta readers.

    Also, "editing" is a catch-all phrase. People get stuck on things like typos and commas, but editing is really about the craft of writing as much as the proper use of a comma.

    Instead of dragging down the standard, let's bring it back up.

    1. ^This. All of this.^

      I think it is a good idea, in theory, but wouldn't work in real life. Honestly, the average reader doesn't care if something had been professionally edited or not. They just want a good story. This "seal of approval" so to speak, wouldn't matter to most readers. The bad books will get lost in the crowd.

  4. As good as this sounds, it won't do much. I've sat in local writing groups with so-called professional editors charging thousands to edit books don't recognize a basic POV slip. Actually, they don't recognize POV. And then there was the editor who responded to a question about "info dumping" with how to deal with spam email because she didn't know the term. The books they edit show that they have no understanding of fiction techniques, but they are edited.

  5. Yeah. The problem with this is Sturgeon's Law. "Ninety percent of everything is crap."

    Unfortunately, this is a unilateral finding and the reader is the one who has to make the decision--not the author, and certainly not the editor. Just because the book "works" for the people with the most invested in it, doesn't mean it'll work for *everybody* else.

    And that's what it looks like you're trying to arrange here.

    There are also two problems I see with your establishing assumptions:

    1. While there are a lot of bargain shoppers who won't pay more than 99-cents for an ebook, the market is pretty clearly stratified. There are also a lot of readers who will only buy in the 2.99 to 4.99 range, and another -- smaller, perhaps -- group that will buy in the 3.99 to 7.99 range. Last there's a group who quite happily pay $12.99 for the latest opus from an author they love. So this idea that the market is made up of 99-cent shoppers isn't exactly accurate.

    2. The notion that a reader should "take a chance" on an ebook seems, likewise, a bit wide of the mark. The rule is "sample everything." If the book looks like a drunken monkey through the words against a screen and they stuck, then delete the sample and don't buy the book. Usually the really poor books stand out at the cover. If the cover's bad, I won't look at a blurb. If the blurb's bad, I'm done. If the sample is a mess, I'll never see the "buy this book" link and it gets tossed. I've *never* had more choices, or found more new voices, than I have by following this method...and I have a hard time thinking I'm the only one smart enough in the world to be buying ebooks this way. I'm really rather old and slow, so younger, more savvy bit-sters must have discovered that there's never any good reason to take a chance on an ebook.

    It's an interesting idea, but to my mind it smacks of trying legislate morality, and we can see how well that's going.

    Thought provoking notion, but not one I'd buy.

  6. Shannon is so right! I love her idea about Amazon having a tag for editing, and I agree that books need to be edited and that raising the price is worth it.

    Great post:)

  7. it's an interesting theory. At this point I pretty much avoid any self published stuff because I have been burned so many times by reading books that really needed an editor. Editing a book is a lot of work, I have read books from the big 6 publishers that need more editing, self edited books don't stand a chance.


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