Thursday, May 19, 2011


Beware of small presses! Not that I have anything against them, and they're not all bad, but be careful. I've read two books lately that were published by small presses. They are filled with editing errors. Absolutely FILLED! I wondered if the books were self published at first, because the mistakes were so glaring and distracting, but no, I found out they were published by small presses.

What is wrong with the editors at those companies? It's as though they aren't qualified to do the job. It's very frustrating to me because I know what it's like to yearn to be published. I know what it's like to have this wonderful story you want to share.

How terrible it would be to finally be picked up only to have your book published by a company that does not make it shine. Or that doesn't know how to make it shine.

This is what you have to do. STUDY! You have to know the rules. You have to make sure your ellipses look like this  . . .  and not like this ........ (of varying length or too overused). You have to make sure the mistakes are caught if you are with a small press. Be sure to have qualified readers critique your book before it goes to a publisher. Be in a critique group.

People. These things are vital if you want your story to shine. It's too easy to miss your own mistakes. Don't be afraid of criticism from your early readers and critiquers, because I promise you, once your book is published it's too late.


Rebecca said...

I've been doing a bit of research on small presses, and it looks like there are a couple of good ones out there.

You're right, I've found books published by small presses to have a lot of mistakes. I've also find books by medium-sized presses have lots of mistakes.

That's why it's so important to have a manuscript polished as much as you can before submitting.

L.G.Smith said...

I am so anal about this stuff. I've found errors in books published by big houses, too. It always drives me a little nuts, but I know how hard it is to catch everything. It takes multiple sets of dedicated eyes to get a ms polished.

Jennifer said...

Great Post and very good points! I can ignore one or two mistakes but when I start to find several on a page it drives me crazy

Old Kitty said...

Yay for your very sensible and very good and wise advise! You treat yourself and your work with respect and ergo with your readers!

Take care

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I don't suppose you want to be more specific about which small presses produced those error-filled books, do ya, huh huh? Just kidding. I think the caveat applies to all publishers nowadays. Publishing houses, large and small, simply don't edit as strenuously as they used to, so it's up to US to make sure our work is "all it can be."

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

I would have to agree with you, Susan. I see mistakes at times from large/famous publishers but not to this extent. These were mistakes that any editor should have seen. The writer too, should know. It irks me when I read books like this. A few mistakes . . . no biggy. A bunch on each pages . . . irritating! LOL

S.B.Niccum said...

You are absolutelly right Melissa, and ultimatelly (big or small press) the author is the one who is judged, so the author needs to make sure many, many eyes see it before it goes to print. This is on of my biggest fears.
S.B. Niccum
Author Website

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Oh, yes, I so agree with you. Those companies need to take pride in their authors' work so as to create a great reputation!

Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?
YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell coming fall of 2011!

Jarmara Falconer said...

I know just what you mean. I check out a publisher's site, after reading a book written by someone I knew online, only to find that their guidelines had spelling mistakes in them. No wonderful she had a spelling mistake on the first page of her first novel. I would be gutted if that had been my novel.

Great blog you have here.

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Carol Riggs said...

Argh, that would be terrible, to have a book published by a small press and have it overrun with errors. I'd die of mortification. Gah! Thanks for the warning.

Blaze McRob said...

Great post, Melissa! I am going with a small house for my horror novels. However, I intend to present as flawless a story as I possibly can. This way, errors will be kept to a minimum. My little publishing house with my lady will publish a lot of other genre stuff by the two of us and some stories added by our editor. Maybe there will be other writers joining us in time, but there is no sense in rushing and flooding the market with garbage. Even my Editor's stories will need editing.

No matter how you publish, you need your own skills to be honed, have beta readers, and an Editor.

Like you say, Melissa: do it before it's too late.

Hope said...

yes, I agree. this is so helpful. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Having been a composition teacher, editor, and proofreader, I knew what I was doing. I read and read and read my (small press) manuscript before the final edits, so I HOPE the book is clean. We do have to know for ourselves punctuation, grammar, etc etc, just to be sure. It's the way it seems to be today. I hear what you're saying. You find "errors" sometimes even in books published by the "big" houses.

But I've also read some excellent books by small presses AND self-publishers recently. If the story's good, I'm training myself to overlook the errors (I can if there aren't too many). One problem today is that publishers want to hurry and get the book out. You have to do all you can personally to make sure the end product is good.
Ann Best, Memoir Author

Kari Marie said...

You spend so much time as a writer working on a book, it would be frustrating to have it not meet its potential. I agree that you should present the best possible MS you can. Crit groups and knowing the rules are essential.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Good points, all. I think of those types and quantities of errors with self-publishing, not with publishing houses. I'm surprised, but I suppose in this day and I age I shouldn't be. So much is sub-par that did not used to be; too much is casual and overlooked. I hope it is not a trend.

Shari said...

It's so true. I've read a couple recently that just made me sad. It's so important to be really careful. Good points!

Honey at 2805 said...

Thanks for this post. A very helpful article. I have just become a follower!

Nina Powers said...

I'm astonished to admit that even the larger presses are drooping in the editing department. It's become a pet peeve of mine to see spelling errors in published works. Newspapers, memos, novels, how-to guides etc. are filled with them. Have the standards been thrown out the window?
Le Grand Sigh

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