For years now, writers have been watching, with growing excitement, as the publishing world changed with the introduction of independent book publishing. Many were delighted and jumped on the bandwagon. But there was, and is, a problem. And both authors and readers know it.
Yes, publishing is changing for the better, but readers still find that many self-published books or eBooks are absolutely dreadful, both in content and in production. Such books are a disgrace to the publishing industry, drag genuine authors down and frustrate readers.
The biggest problem with independent publishing is no longer the stigma once attached to self-publishing – that’s gone. Now it’s the fact that readers don’t trust indie books to be professionally produced and to provide a good reading experience.
Result? Many readers shun self-published books. Disaster for authors.
My journey to indie publishing came after a successful, but stressful foray into traditional book publishing. I found a literary agent after several years of searching, had one book published, which became a sell-out best-seller in the US and the UK and Japan. Then things went awry. The agent passed away and the publisher breached our contract (numerous times), resulting in loss of considerable money due to me.
I joined many authors disillusioned with traditional publishing and decided to take control of my publishing future through independent publishing.
There I found that good indie books were swamped by dreadful books that should never have been published. How do we distinguish our genuine books from that trash?
New York Times best-selling author, Darcie Chan, urges all authors to produce only professional quality work and serious authors try to do that.
“Be confident in your work,” she says, “but be careful not to put a book out into the world until you are sure that it is your very best work and professional in all respects (writing, editing, cover design, formatting, etc.). You get only one chance to make a first impression, and every reader deserves a quality product.”
Experienced independent publishing professional Philip Catshill hit the nail on the head when he said self-publishing has a tarnished reputation.
“Other than typing in a title and a description,” he said, “any document can be uploaded and self-published using only a few keystrokes and mouse clicks. There is no quality control; thus, inexperienced writers are uploading first drafts, setting a price and, in some cases, getting their family or friends to write rave reviews.
“Traditional publishing implies the work has been accepted by a third person and a publisher as being suitable for publication, thus there is a kudos with traditional publishing. I’ve seen comments on LinkedIn from readers who never read self-published books because they consider them inferior.”
This is a major tide for indie authors to swim against, but now there might just be a way to smoother seas.
PiPSTM (Professional Independent Publishing Standards) is a global organization and its purpose is to raise indie publishing standards, book by book, and to make that quality visible to all readers.
Hundreds of thousands of authors have had enough of the traditional publishing frustration, headaches and meagre share of publishing profits, and want a crack at personal success with the major share of income that self-publishing can bring. Above all, they want to be published.
But readers must be able to trust an author to deliver a genuinely good reading experience. PiPS™ can deliver that trust with a service that is unique in publishing.
It aims to make every book it touches best commercial practice, and to make such books instantly recognizable by having the PiPSTM Verified Book Quality Award displayed on covers.
Full details are set out in a free eBook, which all writers are urged to read, but here’s how it works: PiPSTM offers a “whole book assessment”, split into separate editorial and production assessments. The assessors’ reports are collated and checked by a supervisor, who then sends a detailed report to the author.
The result will go one of two ways. First, books that reach a professional standard in both editorial content and production will be recognized with the PiPSTM Verified Book Quality Award, which may be displayed on book covers, stationery, advertising and promotional material. If a book fails that standard, the author receives a detailed step-by-step guide showing how to reach that standard and inviting him or her to resubmit to PiPSTM for a fresh assessment.
Brian Morgan is the founder and CEO of PiPSTM and has been involved in publishing (newspapers, magazines and books) since 1975. Before that, he was an accountant and business executive for national and international companies. He is the author of eight books in print and 12 eBooks.