Quality is Key: Guest Blogger SaraLynn Hoyt Discusses Indie Books

Quality is Key: Guest Blogger SaraLynn Hoyt Discusses Indie Books

SaraLynnHoytI’m excited to host Sheryl Hoyt (who is writing as SaraLynn Hoyt) on today’s stop on her blog tour today!  

If you recognize her name, that may be because you read about her in a recent Time Magazine article focusing on the rise and success of indie authors.  

It’s a topic that fascinates me as I am very happily and very well-published by a traditional New York publisher.  But I’m also getting my feet wet as an indie  author by putting up my backlist and (soon) adding new indie books to pre-existing series that were discontinued before I was ready to stop writing them!

SaraLynn’s article focuses on the question of quality, from her perspective as an indie book author and a reader.  So, without further ado, please welcome SaraLynn!

Recently, I was featured in an article in the 12/10/12 issue of Time Magazine, entitled “The 99¢ Best Seller” where journalist Andrew Rice wrote about my self-publishing journey.

When I started down this road of self-publishing, I knew there was a stigma attached to what used to be called vanity press. Thank goodness for the Kindle
and a new attitude about self-publishing or as Andrew said in his article, I’d still be pitching to NY waiting for some overworked, underpaid editor to pick my book off the slush pile.

With that said, what is the biggest criticism Indie authors are still subjected to?  That the quality of Indie books is lower than NY published books. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Besides, I’ve never seen a perfect book, not ever. I’m not just a writer, I’m a reader and I’ve read a lot of NY Times bestselling books published by the Big Six and there is always at least one typo— usually more— and some of the editing, let’s admit, is not always so great.Dangerous Heart by SaraLynn Hoyt

I remember reading one of my favorite authors after she’d had many books published and I honestly wondered if the editor had all of a sudden decided that since she was a best-selling author, there was now no need to edit her books any longer because people would buy them regardless of how crappily they had been written. No offense to the author since, after all, that is why we have editors, beta readers and critique partners.

I won’t go into more details here on badly edited books I’ve read from the Big Six, but I think we’ve all seen ‘em. <wink>

So the truth is Indie authors can actually have a higher quality product if they want. Plus, Indie authors can actually fix any errors that readers find! How great is that? If a NY pubbed author finds and error in their book— like let’s say the hero’s name is Tom in the printed copy and Tom turns into Ted once or twice—what can they do? Nothing…hope for a second printing? That’s about it. However, as an Indie author, I can simply fix the error and re-upload my book. Problem solved.

Heaven Made by SaraLynn HoytSo how do I publish the highest quality book I can? I follow these steps:

  • Write a book that I would want to read.
  • Make sure my research is tight.
  • Rewrite the book multiple times.
  • Have an honest critique partner tell me what I need to fix.
  • Fix the stuff my honest critique partner has told me about! (Don’t skip this step no matter how much you want to!)
  • Put the book away for a week or two or three, then sit down and read it through in one or two sittings and DO NOT MAKE EDITS. This is where you find out if your book reads smoothly and is ready for the final process or not.
  • Now you can go back and make all your final edits before you hire an editor.
  • Hire a professional editor and wait.
  • Make edits suggested by editor (that’s what you paid them for).
  • Spellcheck.
  • Find a Beta reader and have them make comments and ask questions, find errors etc.
  • Make edits based on Beta readers’ comments.
  • Do a final read thru and fix any errors you find.

If you follow these steps, you will have a very high quality product to put on sale that you can be proud of. My only caution is at some point you will need to stop editing and be satisfied with all your hard work.

As writers, we could potentially keep rewriting and improving forever. Instead, write another book and start the process over again. Your fans will be happy you did, because not only do they want a quality book, but they want lots of quality books. Happy writing!

Sheryl Hoyt was born and lives in the Seattle, WA area. She resides in the beautiful Cascade foothills with her high school sweetheart and their cats. A business professional by day, Sheryl has been writing novels in her free time for over 20 years. A lover of all things historical, she enjoys research and travel in order to expand her knowledge and add authenticity to her stories.  You can find her on Twitter and Facebook, and lots of other social media outlets.  Visit her website to learn more!

Thanks so much for being here today, SaraLynn!

Okay, readers, what say you?  Are you an author of indie books?  Avid readers?  Do you have thoughts about SaraLynn’s suggestions for making sure you work is of the highest quality?

As for me, I think the list is an excellent one.  Even so, I’ll raise my hand and start the conversation rolling by saying that I disagree that fixing the stuff your critique partner and/or editor flags is a must-do. Honestly consider it? Yes.  Realize that something you wrote gave them pause, yes.  But that may not translate to taking their actual advice as to either the problem or the solution.  What do I mean?  Well, that’s too much to go into here … but thanks to SaraLynn, I think I’ve pinpointed a blog post for later this week … so stay tuned!

Be sure to share your thoughts below!



Deborah Schneider

As the “honest critique partner” I can tell you that when we work together, it’s always with the goal to make the story the very best it can be. My husband once overheard us working together, and said: “You guys are brutal!” But the point is Sheryl (SaraLynn) already knows I love her writing. My job as her “developmental editor” is to point out the things that don’t work and can be made better. As Indie published authors, we know our writing needs to be strong and our books as perfect as we can make them.


Oh, absolutely! I don’t think any beta reader, critique partner or editor would do otherwise. My point is just that the author needs to honestly access all comments and decide if they really do need to be addressed. Perhaps the issue lies not in the comment, but somewhere else in the book. Perhaps, as has happened to me, a reader has their own spin on what they want a character to be, and so their comments skew that way (more alpha, more demure, whatever). The challenge is to know your own work. Then respecting the comments, analyzing them and implementing them (or not), flows from the work and not from a reaction to a critique. I actually think that SaraLynn and I (and you) agree. I would never skip the step of reviewing all CP comments. Or, for that matter, of taking action as a result. The question is what that action is: the suggested change, another change, or nothing at all.

Ann Lawrence

Loved the list. As someone who is rereleasing a backlist and who has decided after a long hiatus to put her foot back in the publishing pool, I’ve been reading posts like this for advice and encouragement. I’ve always had a critique group. I couldn’t do it without them. I especially look at comments from my non-historical reader as she finds spots where I’ve either put in too much of my beloved research or not enough for clarity. I also agree that you have to go with your gut on what you think is best for your book in the end. But when all of my group picks up on something, I really give it a look. I also have my beta reader.


Thanks for coming by, Ann! I think balancing research in historical novels is a hard task indeed!


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