There’s a lot of comments going around about the pros and cons of traditional publishing versus indie publishing. The trad folks argue that indie published work contains more errors and is of a generally lower quality, whilst the idie folks argue that a lot of errors are found in trad published works too and who’s to say that an indie published work of fiction is not worthy to be out there? Whatever your stance on this point, the important thing to remember is that it’s the readers who matter, not the authors.
It’s our readers who decide what is worthy of success and what isn’t, for they are the ones who buy it. You can spend months making sure your work is error free, punctuated properly, adverb free etc, but if readers think your story sucks, then you’ve wasted your time Bro. I have come to realise that amongst the author crowd, more importance is placed upon the structure of each sentence, punctuation and the ever present adverb argument, than on whether your story is interesting or whether your characters are believable or not. To me this seems out of balance because just having a work that is spelled perfectly, punctuated perfectly and totally adverb free doesn’t ensure it is a cracking good yarn that will sell millions and make you a household name. Of course the structure is important – duh – but so is having a good story and interesting characters.
To me personally, it’s more important for me to become well known as a writer of really cracking stories, than a rich one or one who can structure a sentence in way Shakespeare would be proud of. I’m learning as I go along and each work is structured with more finesse than the last and one day I will revisit my first novel and issue another edition with the problems I can see in it, fixed. There comes a point though, when I have to decide that to go any further down a particular route is just being too damn picky and pedantic for the sake of it. An example of this is the ‘had’ rule. For those who may have only recently repatriated from the planet Zog – apparently one should NEVER include any forms of the word ‘had’ in your writing. I have taken this on board and I do try to eliminate as many ‘hads’ as I can, probably 99% of them but some I leave as I feel they add to the point I’m trying to make in a positive way. I’m not going to beat myself up because my 100k word novel contains 10 ‘hads’ or a sprinkling of adverbs. It’s not worth the stress and I believe that most readers won’t be too upset when reading and probably won’t even notice.
If you go the trad route, then the publishing house editor will slice up your work to within an inch of its life and if you want to maintain it in any way resembling its original state, you must be prepared to fight and probably lose. With indie publishing you don’t have anyone telling you that you can’t have this sentence or that paragraph. This freedom is great, after all I wrote it so I want to have control over how much of it gets sliced and diced but it also brings a responsibility along with the freedom. It is up to you to make sure everything is spelled correctly and punctuated properly, those 2 things are very important whatever route you take, but with regards the adverbs and the ‘hads’ and similar rules; I for one am all for lightening up a little.