I've read a lot of Kindle ebooks recently, many of them self-published, others published by digital-only publishers, most of them by writer-friends. (They advertise on Facebook, and I just have to go and buy their books!) Without exception I've enjoyed reading every single one of them.
But, and it's a bit of a ranty but.
Some of them are full of errors. Typos, spelling mistakes, incorrect grammar and punctuation, and endless formatting problems. I do find this very off-putting. In most cases these errors could have been spotted and corrected by a careful final proof-read. The formatting problems can be avoided by doing a bit of research on how to publish on Kindle, and formatting can easily be checked after an initial upload. I do feel that if you are trying to sell a product, you should make it the very best it can be. You've slaved over your plot, characterisation, dialogue and description so why not also ensure your manuscript is pristine, error-free and perfectly formatted? Don't you owe it to your reader?
I've self-published a couple of books as you know, and perhaps some of you are reading this and tutting, saying 'people in glass houses....etc'. There may be a few errors in my own books, and if there are, I do apologise (if you spotted any, email me and I'll correct them and re-upload the books). But I know I made a huge effort to ensure they were as error-free as possible. I proof-read on screen, then printed them out, read through and corrected more errors, emailed them to my Kindle and read through again to check formatting, corrected more errors and only when I could find nothing more did I publish them.
Some of the ebooks I've read this year cannot have been proof-read, they're simply too full of problems. In one, the name of a story changed between the contents page and the start of the story. In another, the first page on my Kindle alone contained about 4 errors. In a third, the formatting was so poor there were paragraph breaks half way through sentences. These books have received some great Amazon reviews, and rightly so because they are good books with fabulous plots. But the formatting and punctuation errors feel like the elephant in the room - the big problem that no one is talking about. I could bear it no longer, hence this post.
I should also point out that some of the ebooks I've read this year have been perfectly formatted, with not a single mistake throughout the book. And those are an absolute joy to read.
So this is a bit of a plea to all self-publishers and small ebook-only publishers out there. Spend the time and get it right. Or if you don't feel you have the skills yourself, get someone else to do it for you. If you don't know anyone who can proof-read and format it for you, pay someone to do it, for instance Soundhaven.com offer very reasonably priced services for formatting, cover design and uploading (though they don't proof-read).
A beautifully-presented book is so much more professional than an error-ridden book. People are much more likely to review it, recommend it, and buy your next book if your first book was a quality product.