Because of this, they'll generally be perfectly happy to publish any book submitted (unless it is obscene or libelous). If they refuse to publish a book -- because it is obscene, libelous or merely terrible -- they make no money.
Therefore, they publish many terrible books. With most of these companies, editing is an extra-cost option usually costing $300 to $1,000, which many ignorant, egomaniacal or impoverished authors decide to skip.
I recently blogged about the problem created by Xlibris's not insisting on editing.
Xlibris says, "One of our founding principles, dating back to when we were newly incorporated and making books out of a basement office, is that authors should have control over their work."
That's not necessarily a good thing. If an author has bad ideas for a book's design, or is simply a bad writer, crap gets published. The "proficient team" and "best editors" don't control the quality of what gets published with an Xlibris label on it.
One of the best examples (i.e., one of the worst books) that shows the failure of Xlibris is the awkwardly named, physically ugly, poorly written, unedited and overpriced The Truth and the Corruption of the American System by Eunice Owusu.
The author has some important things to say, but her message is diluted and distorted by bad presentation, and lack of help from Xlibris. The company wanted to collect money for the publishing package they sold her, but made no effort to improve the book.
I've preached that companies like Xlibris need to stop behaving like crack whores who will provide service to anyone who can pay the price. I also said that self-publishing companies need to develop some pride, and to grow some balls. They need to be able to say, "I'm sorry, but your manuscript is just not good enough to be published unless it gets professional editing."
Sadly, even if an author does pay for editing, the book may still turn out badly. One author told me she paid $999 for the most expensive "Diamond" publishing package from stupid, sloppy and sleazy Outskirts Press, plus extra-cost options including nearly $1,000 for "professional" editing.
She said, "I have had some scathing reviews due to the errors that were left in my book after I paid a small fortune for editing with the Outskirts editing team. I was so excited when my book was first released, but after a few family members pointed out the mistakes left behind, I can't describe the restraint it took for me not to explode. I tried to reason with my so-called marketing representative, but she simply hid behind the "fine print" they give you after they receive payment from you. It would have cost me another small fortune to revise the book, and I am still in debt from publishing it in the first place. The marketing representative simply would not assume any responsibility for mistakes that Outskirts made. Outskirts made me feel paranoid about not getting their editing service, but when I did it was as if I had no editing at all."
Over the weekend I had the misfortune to flip through a horribly produced book from Outskirts Press, Stupid In Montana As America by Robert E. Milliken.
Virtually everything about the book is either inept or wacky.
- It has two reviews on Amazon, and one was written by the author.
- It's overpriced.
- The title makes no sense.
- The description on Amazon misuses the noun "dupe." It is not a synonym for "stupid person." Some dupes are smart people, like clients of Bernard Madoff.
- The author's promotion in an authors' online group is filled with religious nonsense, and nonwords such as "accurd" (occurred) and "maltible" (multiple).
The first sentence in the first chapter says: "I may have a deferent different view point than of the local’s who live there." I've read a great many books, but I can't recall any short sequence of words with as many errors as this one. Like Owusu, Milliken has some important things to say, but his message is horribly weakened by the unprofessional publishing provided by Outskirts Press.
Sadly, this book about stupidity is a great example of stupidity. It is really stupid to publish an unedited book.
Fortunately, there are self-publishing companies with higher standards than Outskirts and Xlibris.
That's the way publishing is supposed to be -- regardless of who pays for it.