And my eyes were opened.
My online research of over three dozen publishers was very revealing. A few, of course, were outstanding. The quality of their books, cover art, clients & marketing stood out–in a good way. But for every top-tier company I came across, I also discovered ten gutter publishers.
There are a lot of small publishers out there. And I’m not saying that none of the smaller presses strive for excellence. There are a few whose quality seems to be equal to that of the larger ones. How else can they hope to grow up to be one of the big boys someday? Others, however, apparently have little–to no–criteria for what they print. Many produce a sub-par product that I would personally be ashamed to represent my name.
By checking out the websites I was able to sift the wheat from the chaff. I was amazed at some of the things I found. Many of the book synopses I read could have been written by middle-school students struggling to get a “C” in English. The result was wordy, fragmented summaries with horrible grammar. If the publisher didn’t even edit the synopsis, then how horrendous is the actual writing between the covers?
And then there are the covers themselves. My artistic sensibilities were assaulted with amateur designs, poorly-rendered images and oversized, over-ornate fonts. I had no trouble imagining the dust that would find a home on these books at the local Dollar Tree or thrift store. Perhaps the middle-school art students could have been commisioned instead of those from the remedial English class. Surely the final images would excel beyond some of the artwork chosen.
Some of the publishers’ sites even contained such phrases as:
“While you may have ideas about the design of your book, we are good at what we do. We have artists and designers who ensure each book meets our standards. We know what works.”
As an aspiring author, I can only think of three reasons to choose a publisher such as this: ignorance, laziness or utter desperation. I am rarely accused of the first two traits. And the third, well, I have a long way to go before the darkness of despair encompasses me to that extreme. I cannot imagine taking the child I have been grooming so meticulously and throwing him into the back alleys to forage for food. Daddy loves him too much. I would rather we find what we need some other way: begging, pleading, dancing for our supper. Maybe there is a bit of pride bracing up this opinion. But, hopefully, it is the healthy kind.