Opened my in-box this morning to a discussion that got me thinking about self-publishing. Every editor/house has lost a few really good authors to self-publishing -- it's a hazard in this business, especially with writers who are exceptionally clean and well-edited before someone else looks at it. Sometimes an established author feels she can make more money on her own. I have to respect that, knowing how much work is involved.
Unfortunately that "clean and well edited" description doesn't apply to all authors who decide to self-publish. As a dyslexic author, there's no way I could ever self-publish. (Yes, I'm one of the owners of the company, but as an author, that gives me no preferential treatment. In fact I'm pretty sure the line editors love torturing me.) I want -- need! -- the best editor, proofers and line editors I can get. And I'm still terrified some of my numerous M-isms will slip through!
Just going through a well known publisher is no guarantee of a spotless book, either. I was reminded of that recently when we accepted a story that had been published in an anthology at another house some time ago. The author warned me one of the reasons she didn't renew the contract was that she'd spotted typos in it after release and the publisher refused to fix them.
Typos? I think they must have added typos! This writer's usually very clean -- she's one of our best proofers! -- and yet we found nearly 100 errors in the book. In a PUBLISHED book. Inexcusable. Do we miss things in copy edits? Of course. None of us are perfect. But if we know we've missed something, there's no reason not to fix it -- especially if we find out about an error right away. Yes, it takes some time to reformat the file to all our release versions. But compared to a rep for poor editing? Priceless.
Before you publish anywhere, read enough reviewer comments to find out whether "editing issues" are a recurring problem. If you're going to self-publish, hire an editor, and a copy editor. Ask for references and titles. Check the reviews on other work they've edited, just as you would any publisher's. There's no guarantee your work will get fab reviews because you went the extra mile. But there's a better than average chance you won't get blasted for bad grammar, spelling, and punctuation if you do your legwork first.