It might not be clear to all aspiring authors that their reputation is at stake with everything they put out into the world. A typo in a cover letter, a small factual error in a novel, a few misspelled words in a short story — who will notice? Who will care?
The truth is, although many people won’t be bothered by little errors here and there, enough people will be, and it is often these people who are the most vocal or are in a position of power.
The repercussions can include having your query to an agent dismissed, your short story rejected from a literary mag, or your novel blasted on Amazon and Goodreads. Unfortunately, you won’t get a second chance with an agent, and those online reviews never go away. Furthermore, once your reputation is tainted, it can be a major feat to get it back.
The ease with which a writer can become published via an e-book has magnified this problem. With an e-book, you can bypass every other kind of publishing professional, upload your first draft to Smashwords, KDP, or any number of other e-book sites, and — voila — in 24 hours you have an e-book. There are no gatekeepers and no one to save you from yourself. You can put out a low-quality product and ruin your reputation as a writer with the click of a button.
Don’t let this happen to you. Take matters into your own hands and shore up your reputation by producing the highest-quality writing you can. Here’s how:
- Perform thorough self-editing. There are lots of tricks to this. You can read my take on it here.
- Work with beta readers. Belinda Pollard has a nice article cleverly titled “How to Find a Beta Reader” with some helpful tips.
- Hire a professional editor. Editors abound. Find a good one to help you with whatever kind of writing you do.
- If you are self-publishing, hire a professional designer to help with layout or, at the very least, buy a template from Joel Friedlander.
While the professional design won’t help with textual errors, it will help your reputation. When you are self-publishing, anything you can do to improve the appearance of your book will also improve your perceived professionalism and, therefore, your reputation.
Given how difficult it is to get noticed as a writer, the one thing you have to rely on is your reputation. Respect, integrity, professionalism, follow-through — no kidding, good editing can help you demonstrate all of these important characteristics through your writing. Mind your reputation from the beginning so that you do not have to fight to get it back.
Like this blog? Check out Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Left Bank Books, and other retailers.