Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Author Steve DeWinter is One Hot Indie Author

"Don't mess with this chick!"

His name might literally mean "of Winter" but this bestselling indie author is becoming hotter and hotter with books like Inherit the Throne. I met Steve DeWinter in person at the recent ITW Thrillerfest in NYC and we hit it off smashingly as they say in Londontown. We tipped a few, cruised into the heart of Hells Kitchen for some Asian along with my girlfriend and publisher Aaron Patterson, and just generally laughed a lot at some silly stuff. Oh, did I tell you that despite his serious talent, dude's as silly as I am?

Ladies and gentlemen I'm happy to introduce to you for the very first time, Steve DeWinter:

Publishing is a lot like baseball.

There are seasoned professionals who have been playing the game for a long time and then there are the rookies who are just starting out. The same can be said for published authors.

For the sake of argument, let’s consider those authors who go through publishing houses as seasoned professionals. Now before you get your panties in a bunch, let me just say that the reason I have put authors who have signed on with traditional publishers (and a growing number of indie-publishers like StoneHouse Ink) in the professional category, is that these publishers invest in the books they publish. Money has been spent, prior to publishing the book, to ensure that all the spelling, punctuation, grammar and word usage (hear vs here) errors have been vetted and eradicated. These books are put through a rigorous editing and proofing phase before they are released for public consumption.

Now that I have qualified the professionals, I'm sure we can all guess who the rookies are? I'm not saying that a rookie author can't write a great story, but if you are the type of reader who is jarred by the occasional misspelling, and cannot enjoy a book because of it, you will want to stick with the professional authors. But here is your quandary. With online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble opening up the floodgates and letting just anyone publish their eBooks for Kindle and Nook, how can you, the reader, tell the difference between the seasoned professional and the rookie?

By the editing.

There are two forms of editing that can be done for a book. There is objective editing and subjective editing. What’s the difference you might ask, editing is editing. Not quite. Objective editing is based on hard and fast rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar. As an author, you will never find yourself arguing with an editor over the spelling of a word. There is only one way a word is spelled correctly; and that is that. It is the subjective editing that pits author against editor all too often. Subjective changes (story flow, funnier dialogue, etc.) are changes that all boil down to a matter of personal taste. And these changes are not necessarily improvements, just changes.

If an author has done their homework and learned the craft of writing, all they really need is an objective edit by a proofer. Someone who will check to make sure that the spelling, punctuation and grammar (the objective and unquestionable changes) is perfect in their book. Everything else is subjective.

But what if I don’t want to waste my money on a rookie author’s book filled with spelling and grammar errors, what do I do? One of the easiest ways is to read the comments written by other readers and reviewers. Don’t worry about how many stars someone gave in their rating, which is all subjective anyway, just read the comments. All the comments. Even the comments on the comments.

And here is what you are looking for: Feedback about spelling and grammar. Look for this type of feedback even in the five-star reviews. I can guarantee that if there are no mistakes, it will not be mentioned. Nobody ever puts in their review, "I was pleased to find that every word in this book was spelled correctly."

In baseball, it takes years of practice for the rookie player to become the seasoned professional.

Thank goodness publishing is not exactly like baseball.

After being dinged by reviewers early in my published career for the handful of spelling and grammar mistakes in my debut thriller, I realized I needed to elevate myself above rookie status and invest in my books. I needed to be more than self-published; I needed to be a self-publisher. By hiring a solid objective editor (a proofer), I would propel myself out of the ranks of being another rush-to-self-publish rookie and into the professional category of authors.

And do you know who really wins? My readers!

I want to write the best stories possible, but I don't want to make it hard for my readers to enjoy my books by publishing them filled with rookie mistakes.


  1. Great suggestions, Steve. Readers need to be able to navigate the flood of self-published books, so they don't waste their money or time. Wish you well with Inherit The Throne.

  2. Thanks for having me on The Vox. And thanks for the great intro Vin. Now I have to live up to that reputation. - Steve DW

  3. Steve - I am a reader who gets ticked when I find too many grammatical errors in a book. I have put down numerous indie stories because of the poor editing, which has made me leery of self-pubbed authors. Happy to hear that you invest in the editing. :)