I review a lot of books.  Not always under my own name - some for this website, some for self-publishing companies, others for self-publishers themselves.  I love it.  It’s great.  I learn so much from each and every book I am lucky enough to be asked to read and review.  Some are amazing...ly bad, some flow eloquently and draw you in from the word go. Others read like the writer has a lot to say but has no idea how to say it and some have been just plain ridiculous.  But they all seem to have one thing in common:  none of them appear to have engaged the essential Copy Editor.  But then, what do I know? - maybe they have but said copy editor just isn’t very good or lazily uses a computer programme that sweeps emotionlessly through the manuscript thus missing the point of the writer’s efforts entirely. That is one of the pitfalls of the self-publishing swamp - there are no lifeguards to save an unsuspecting writer, especially if they don’t even know they’re drowning.  

Three books have landed on my desk today, all with requests to review.  A quick glimpse at the first page of each of them tells me that two need a substantial life ring; the third made sure they weren’t drowning in the first place - and boy does it show.

This epublishing lark is meant to cheap and easy, right?  Well yes, it is.  But your book - you want that to be good - brilliant even - with the film rights bought and multi-dollar contract with 20th Century Fox to follow, right?  Well yes, you do.  Admit it, you do.  But you ain’t gonna get there if you don’t ask for a teensy weensy bit of help along the way.  If however, you don’t much mind if your book is brilliant or not - you just want it out there, or if funds are limited so you can’t employ someone to dissect then reassemble your MS, then go ahead - dive in to that swamp.  There are, after all, many examples of poorly written novels that have captured the imagination of readers and thus promoted to book into the limelight.  Or elight, as it’s likely to be these days.  But sadly, so many will sink without trace.  Once you’ve done the rounds of f's&f's who all tell you how wonderful it is, approach others - preferably strangers - to read it.  Join-on line forums and get feed back: if everyone starts telling you the same thing, then perhaps they have a point. You Write On is a good place to start - link below.  My own novel ‘Jumbo’ is still in the planning stages - well, that’s not entirely true. It’s completed, and, I thought, ready to roll.  After sending it out to several very supportive writers on-line and a local sixth form college whose English department agreed to let some of their students beta read it (a term so much kinder than Read And Destroy) I understand now that it is no-where near ready to be epublished!  Phew.  Saved myself from...er...myself, there.

Here are some links to knowledgeable epublishers and some helpful sites.

Debbie Young Author 

Katherine d'Souza

You Write On

The Alliance of Independent Authors