Attention Indie Authors: Amazon is not your publisher

Manuscript Finished

Recently a Network member mentioned to me that a Facebook follower – weighing in on a discussion about the poor quality of self-published books – stated that …

Amazon was not likely to edit the many, many books they post on their Kindle site because they are too concerned about filling their coffers.”

Ahhh – perhaps this misconception of Amazon’s role in the publishing process helps explain why so many Kindle books are of such poor quality.

What Amazon is – and is not

Amazon is not likely to edit any book because they are NOT a book publisher. They are a bookseller. One might call the Kindle platform their “distributor” role, as they help get your book into the sales channel.

Would you take your book into the local bookstore for selling, but expect the bookstore to edit it first? I don’t think so.

What you are responsible for as a self-publisher

If you are self-publishing your book – that means writing it and sending it up to Amazon Kindle yourself – YOU, my friend, are the publisher and responsible for the editing.

It has always been the responsibility of the publisher to see that their books being published have been properly edited. Today, many selling through Amazon are independent or self-publishers – and instead of paying for proper editing, they are simply throwing them up there, with cursory, even amateurish editing.

But it is certainly not Amazon’s responsibility as a bookseller/distributor to do any editing. (They can decide which books they do not want to sell – such as those using unchanged PLR material – the same as any bookseller can decide which books not to carry. But that has nothing to do with editing accepted titles.)

And, yes, Amazon does have its own full-service  publishing arm  — with multiple genre imprints. But those imprints act in the traditional publisher mode, with their own acquisition and editing staffs.

Bottom line: You are responsible for the quality of your indie book

Amazon is not. If you want a quality book with a scintilla of hope of selling in the Kindle (or other) marketplace, you need to pony up for some professional editing.

Professional editing does not mean a family member who was good in English or reads a lot. It does not even mean an English teacher beyond the basic grammar review; school writing assignments have little correlation to popular book content.

Many of the self-publishing services (BookBaby, Smashwords, Lulu, et al) have contract editors to work with you for a fee. You will also find freelance editors in the groups on LinkedIn. You can search on Google or Bing or Yahoo for freelance book editors.

Our own Writers-Editors Network has a number of professional freelance editors. Simply  tell us what you need  and we will post it on our Members-Only private Bulletin Board. Interested editors will then contact you directly with their backgrounds and fees.

Not sure what type of editing you need? Here are the differences among proofreading, copyediting and content editing:

But do not expect Amazon to edit your Kindle book. That is your responsibility as an indie publisher.

Manuscript finished? Get thee to an editor.

Have you hired a freelance editor for your self-published book? Or did you write it and publish it unedited? Has it impacted comments or sales? Please do share your thoughts below.
About Dana K Cassell

Hi, and welcome to our Network. I'm Dana Cassell and am the one writing most of the posts on this blog. I've been in this writing/editing business for way longer than I care to admit. My goal here is to provide you with useful insights from our professional members and from my own experience - to help you achieve your own success, grow your editorial business, and publish successful and worthy books,


  1. All too many authors think that automatically means they will be successful.

    What they don’t consider is that becoming an “overnight success” takes practice and skill. It takes time and artistry. It is anything but “overnight”.

    And it doesn’t require a mainstream publisher.

    As a matter of fact, with 1) a well-conceived, finely-constructed, compelling, and interesting story that has been properly edited; 2) an attractive, professionally-designed, genre-appropriate cover; 3) the correct price-point; 4) well-positioned (and not overdone) marketing and management efforts; and 5) the appropriate level of education about your craft and the industry as a whole, an independent publisher can be tremndously successful without NY involvement.

    It takes hard work, discipline, commitment, and dedication; but, it can be worth it if done well.

    Unfortunately for the vast majority of people publishing, they haven’t put in the necessary sweat equity and they put out unsaleable product. Their poor quality gives “indie” a bad name.

    That isn’t to say all indies put out bad work.

    We are now publishing full time due to circumstances beyond our control with the old day job. However, we are doing well.

    Our books are selling well, and now that our production schedule has ramped up, we expect to match our old salary by the end of the year…God willing.

    Find a mentor to help you navigate these shark-filled waters and don’t fall for the shysters out there who just want to take your money.

    Do your homework. Practice. Repeat.

  2. Just Tweeted this. It’s a “must read” for every Indie author.

  3. Dana, thanks so much for putting this message out. The misconceptions about the processes of self-publishing or of going with an Indie publisher are amazing.

    I work mostly with new authors and perform primarily developmental edits. I rarely ‘just’ edit a manuscript anymore, but rather also ‘teach’ about marketing, website development, social media, query letters, genres… [sucks in deep breath] So! Over the past 10 years, I have expanded (and expanded) my specialized knowledge in order to provide the support that stretches beyond ‘just’ editing.

    Authors often have no concept of marketing, no platform, no idea of book design. This will change as time marches on, but at this time many authors are entering the world of self-publishing and finding the steep learning curve daunting.

    My education background is ancient and nothing special: Business & Journalism & Psychology, but I am a business-owner and understand that anything I sell, from editing services to copy writing to books, has to be marketed. I need to approach everything I do as a professional, not as a hobby. I need to know my target audience/market and how to reach them.

    Whether an author writes with the intent to self-publish or traditionally publish, they must be prepared to do what it takes to produce a professional-quality book. That means well-written and well-edited.

    Books take time to write. Books take time to edit. Books are not meant to be writings that are on a par with high school term papers, college short stories that earned an “A”, or journal/diary/memoirs. Good books can come from such things, of course, but only with high quality writing craft.

    Again, thank you, Dana, for bringing this concern forward. I would enjoy seeing an article on writing skills and the discipline involved in creating engaging writing that maintain quality consistently throughout a manuscript.

  4. I wish everyone considering self-publishing would read this. When I wrote my book, I had an instructor urge me not to self-publish due in part to the vast quantity of low quality self-published books. I went with a traditional publisher, and I’m glad I did. I couldn’t have afforded to pay for all the editing my publisher gave me. But now that I’ve gone through the process, I know to check a self-published book for editors before I ever start reading it. Now, if some traditional publishers just had better editors.

    • Pleased you like the post, Eric. Now, if only all authors would acknowledge their editors in the front of their books – partly so those invaluable souls would get the credit they deserve – but also to help us all in our reading selections, as you mention — good tip!

  5. Good comments. If my own experiences are typical (and they might not be), I have encountered editors who not very good and agents who were fronts for book doctors or who just accepted books based on their personal tastes. I am, as you know, more than a grammar teacher but a professor who taught writing here and in China, and who has been an editor once or twice. Editing one’s own material is another ballgame, and it takes me forever to edit my own novels. This involves constant changing and re-writing, of course. I wish I had just a second reader to proofread what I have written — just to get an exterior view. Unfortunately, I don’t have that. Maybe someday. So I have to be my own judge, and this is where basic insecurity comes in — or, as someone on an Academy Award show (Robert DeNiro, I think) referred to writers as self-loathing. Could be true. Many of us are a neurotic bunch.

    • Thank you for reminding me that all English “teachers” are not from the same cloth, Charles. I was referring to those English teachers who have not written or published books – especially fiction – but who do know the rules of grammar and can be very helpful in the copy editing phase. However, book development editors have a different talent and training – not always recognized by the neophyte author. Being one’s own judge and jury is not only difficult, but usually not wise. It’s amazing how a different set of editing eyes sees things the writer will continue to miss. Although if one could leave it alone enough years, some of the story “problems” might jump out. I have looked at my own published articles from decades ago and wondered, how in the world could that get published! I could do such a better job now 🙂 – For this reason, I think one should never hesitate to pull out some older, unfinished draft and take another look. What didn’t seem to “work” back then may be fixable now, with our more experienced eyes.

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