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Writing and Publishing

Does the Type of Publisher Skew Our Perception of Book Quality?

When I read a book and catch an error or spot something questionable in the layout, I generally overlook it—the first time. When I catch a second oops, I turn to the front matter and see who published the book.

If produced by a traditional publisher, my tendency is to overlook the errors. After all, I doubt any book is ever completely error-free. I assume I’ve found a couple of anomalies and happily return to my reading.

However, if it’s self-published, I groan and subconsciously begin looking for more mistakes. In fact, I expect to find them. Then each time I do, I moan over the lack of quality. My esteem of the book and its author diminishes a bit more each time I spot something amiss.

This is unfair. How the book was published shouldn’t skew my perceptionof quality. This is not how it should be, but I can’t help it. As a publisher, this might be an occupational hazard, just as I find myself mentally editing books as I read them. I can’t help that either.

Ideally, we need to judge each book on its own merits and not be influenced by who published it or how it was produced. I’m not there yet but hope to be one day.

Regardless, we need to do all we can to ensure our books are as error-free as possible and conform to the highest standards of quality. Then, how it was published won’t matter.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

4 replies on “Does the Type of Publisher Skew Our Perception of Book Quality?”

Like I said before: Where were you a couple of years back?
Good post Peter! And good of you too be magnanimous! ;)))

I’m not a publisher, but the editor in me does the same thing. If I find one or two mistakes, then my focus quickly changes from reading content to proofreading. All the more reason for self-publishers to have several solid proofreaders at their disposal.

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