Self-Publishing & MWSA

Image from the Forbes website (Anna David MIKE CARANO).  Click on image to go to article.

Image from the Forbes website (Anna David MIKE CARANO). Click on image to go to article.

I recently read an article on the Forbes website titled, The Biggest 5 Mistakes When Self-Publishing A Book. It provides an interesting take on the pitfalls of self-publishing--especially mistake #4. I'd have put it more "diplomatically," but the concept still applies. In this short article, I’d like to expand on that 4th “mistake” from my perspective as awards director.

What problems is MWSA seeing with our members’ self-published books?

Between a third and half of books submitted to MWSA each season are self-published or published via very small publishing houses (who may or may not have a full-time editor on staff or contract). Of those books, quite a few end up scoring rather poorly in our evaluations.

In almost every case, the most noteworthy problems are of a technical nature (grammar, punctuation, capitalization, etc.). We also see glitches in layout--this is especially the case for eBooks. These types of shortfalls can usually be identified and fixed via a round of editing with a pro. But not all self-published or first-time authors are prepared to go that route (financially or emotionally).

What are your options as an MWSA member-author who isn't quite ready to work with a professional editor?

Use MWSA's Beta Reader Program to have someone other than friends and family check your work.

Through our Beta Reader Program (, full members of MWSA can arrange to have another MWSA member-author go over their work. Most of our members are not editors, but having written books themselves, they probably have a different perspective than your run-of-the-mill beta reader. Also, since they don't know you, you're likely to get the honest feedback your family or friends might not want to share with you.

Run your manuscript through something other than your word processor's spell-checker.

There are several free or low-cost programs out there--Grammarly seems to be one of the most popular. Give them a try and see what works for you.

It's undeniable that self-publishing a book is becoming easier all the time. However, self-publishing a high-quality book still requires work. That's the difficult part, and MWSA would like to help you get there.

John Cathcart
MWSA Awards Director