I suspect most of us take publishers for granted. We may not even be aware of who published the book we are reading. For most of us, unless we are writers or are in the book trade, publishing is a “black box.” That doesn’t mean we don’t have opinions about publishing. That’s true of my reader friends on Facebook who recently shared what feedback they would give publishers. Here are ten of their suggestions:
- The biggest beef they shared was poor proof-reading. Some of the errors reflect the use of spell-check or autocorrect, sometimes resulting in a correctly spelled wrong word. If you were raised to pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and spelling, these kinds of errors are huge distractions. Also keep the convention of quotes around dialogue.
- Maps were a big deal for some reason. One person requested maps at the back easily folded out for reference at any time. Maps are always appreciated when there are geographic references and territory changes. Some of us like pictures as well.
- Covers are a big deal. People really don’t like it when you change graphic style in the middle of a series. Also, don’t make all the covers in a genre look alike.
- Romance covers came in for criticism for racy covers. This is particularly objectionable if you are not heterosexual.
- People like “soft” soft back covers that don’t crack.
- People do want options of both physical and e-books. Don’t release books in only one of these.
- Print size. Make it so that people don’t need magnifiers to read the page.
- One person asked for the abolition of endnotes–footnotes only. I understand. Flipping back and forth can be frustrating.
- Release books at the same time in different countries. It can be aggravating when friends in another country have a book months before you do.
- Finally, some people would love to see publishers open to new blood, to give a chance to new writers, whatever their age.
This last reminds me of what a challenge publishing is, sometimes because of the sheer number of manuscripts to evaluate and the challenge to calculate what books will do well, going through multiple printing, and which will go to the remainder sales. One person responded, “None. I believe it is hard enough to be a publisher without any additional advice and I would not like to see the end of this essential species.” There’s something to that. They take the risks, make the calls, and we get to read the finished products. We may not always like the books and have probably wondered how some made the cut. Then there are those wondrous books, sometimes from a new voice, that make you grateful that they took the risk.