These complaints will not be presented in order from “greatest number of complaints received” to “least number of complaints received” because that implies the #1 complaint receives more than the #5 complaint. That’s not necessarily true. In fact, the total number of all of these complaints is statistically low.
But even with a 99% author satisfaction rate, you are bound to get 1-2 complaints a month, statistically, when you publish roughly 150 different books a month, as we do at Outskirts Press. So 99 of our authors are ecstatic, and 1 of them finds himself or herself caught off guard by one of these 5 circumstances I have covered over the past week or so.
So I thought I would address the Top 5 “Outskirts Press Complaints” that arise, along with what leads to those complaints and what Outskirts Press does–and is doing–to mitigate similar complaints in the future.
It is my hope that by addressing these issues here that future Outskirts Press authors will be more familiar with issues that have caught an author off-guard in the past. After all, that is what leads to a complaint — being caught “off guard.”
I’ve numbered them 1-5 for the purposes of identifying them in the blog headline, and I will discuss each of these Outskirts Press complaints alphabetically.
Outskirts Press Complaint #5: Proofreading/editing
When an author submits a book to an agent or a traditional publisher, editing and proofreading that book is part of the publication process if the manuscript has been accepted. The author doesn’t pay up front for this service; instead, the cost of the editing is included either within the agent’s commission and/or the royalty split being offered by the traditional publisher. In fact, if one were to do the actual math, they would discover that such editing fees through traditional agents and publishers were in the many thousands of dollars. That fee is just hard to identify because it is “included” within a 15% agent commission and/or a 90%-10% traditional royalty split. <– That’s 10% to the traditional-publishing author, by the way.
So, the source of confusion surrounding an author’s expectations when it comes to editing and proofreading is easy to identify. In a writer’s mind, the publisher is responsible for editing the book. “That’s how it has always been.”
Well, that is how it has always been for traditional publication, where the publisher is taking all the rights to the book and paying the author a 5%-10% royalty. But it has never been that way when an author independently self-publishes his or her own book. I do not believe an author would expect the printer in China to correct the manuscript before printing it.
So the confusion arises in the mind of a small number of authors when they work with “self-publishing firms” because these companies bridge the gap between traditional publication and independent self-publication. As a result, a small percentage of authors still believe that the publisher’s job is to edit and correct the manuscript as part of the publishing process, regardless of whether the publisher is a “traditional” publisher, “independent” publisher or “self-publisher.”
This is offset by the majority of authors who either understand this is not going to happen with a self-publishing firm or, even more passionately, do NOT want the publisher touching or modifying their document. After all, for many authors, that is part of the reason they chose Outskirts Press — they keep 100% control of their work.
But even though the former group is in the minority, they are still poised to be surprised, or “caught off guard” when they review their online proofs and/or their final publication and discover that proofreading and editing was not included. Perhaps they did not read the large bold red warning signs advising them of this. Perhaps when their Publishing Consultant reiterated it, they either didn’t understand the advice or didn’t believe it. For whatever reason, this small percentage of authors expect their books to be edited for free before the book is published. When such free editing services are not delivered, this can lead to a complaint.
This issue is universal across all self-publishing firms. Editing is either optional for an additional price, or included within a “package” which itself has a fee high enough to cover the cost of editing.
I’ve already mentioned many of the tactics Outskirts Press takes to mitigate complaints about proofreading or editing. We have large “warnings” throughout the process and particularly at the online galley review process that the author must “check-off” on having read and agreed to. All members of our production teams tell our authors that they are responsible for editing and proofing their own work. When our manuscript evaluators review the manuscripts, they will make specific comments on the need for additional copyediting. In fact, many of our authors receive a complimentary “spec edit” on the first 1,000 words of their manuscript so they can see first-hand what a paid copyeditor could do to improve their entire book. This exercise is performed as a courtesy in an effort to introduce our authors to the importance of copyediting services. By introducing the availability of our optional copyediting services, most reasonable authors realize that only through the purchase of such a service will their book be edited or proofread.
Outskirts Press Kudos #5
To offset the tone of these postings about Outskirts Press complaints, I figured I would also include a comment from one of our published authors at the bottom of each posting. We receive so many positive comments each month that we never have a “place” to put them all, so by adding some to my blog, we’ll create another opportunity for our authors’ wonderful success stories to be shared. We post many more testimonials on our website here every month.
“My experience with Outskirts Press was outstanding. As a first time writer, seeking a publisher seemed overwhelming. Then I heard about Outskirts Press, and the dream of publishing my book, Surviving the Terror…Ike, became a reality. From the very first step, I was guided through this process with ease.
Support was available to me from the point of submitting my manuscript until post publication and continues even now. I would have never imagined that my book would be published at such a reasonable cost and that it has been done exactly as I wanted. The book cover is better than I anticipated. This entire experience has been one of professionalism and has truly exceeded my expectations! I encourage anyone who has a story to tell, whether fiction or non-fiction to pursue their dream with the help of Outskirts Press!” – Carole Hamadey