Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Silly 'professional' errors should make good amateur publishers feel wonderful

I've often pointed out that self-published books are suspect -- often assumed to be substandard even before their front covers are flipped open.

To counter this prejudice, I've preached that self-publishing authors should make their books as good as the books produced by professional editors, typesetters and designers employed by the major "traditional" publishers.

Sadly, sometimes, the work of the pros should not be emulated.

Car Guys vs. Bean Counters was published by Portfolio, an “imprint” of the Penguin Book Group. Penguin is one of the largest book publishers in the world, and started in 1935. It recently merged with competitor Random House and bought shitty self-publishing behemoth Author Solutions.

A publisher with vast size and long experience should know what it’s doing, but it doesn’t always do the right thing.

A few years ago, Penguin's Riverside imprint published a phony autobiography, Love and Consequences. Before the hoax was revealed and the book was recalled, it received an excellent review in The New York Times.

Bob Lutz’s “Car Guys” book exhibits a much smaller sin -- a silly typesetting error which should have been noticed by one of Penguin’s experts before printing. It’s mostly a good book, otherwise.

In this case, "professional quality" is not good enough. Amateurs should do better.


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