I recently came under fire by a new, young author who had self-published a book. The premise was rather interesting and when I chose to review his book for my blog, I arranged to receive it, read it and prepared to review it. I found it difficult to read and suggested double spacing. He quickly compared his book to many of the greats who single spaced theirs, including J.K. Rowling. That was the first red flag. Then the fact that he insisted he was right and I was wrong about the spacing over and over, was the second red flag! The fact that he felt his book was done and out on the market as it was as being okay, even after I pointed out a few mistakes, greatly disturbed me and up went the third red flag! I knew I was arguing with one of those authors.
I came across many sentence structure errors, issues with tense and plot, and general story structuring. Instead of writing a review reflecting my disappointment, I contacted this author thinking he’d want to know what I discovered. I was sadly mistaken.
Because he didn’t agree with me, he questioned my ability to review books. I explained I was not trying to attack him but wanted his book to be successful, as I feared with the way it was, it would not be. He told me all he wanted was a review from a reader’s perspective, not an editor.
I got to thinking that he must think readers are stupid then. How can a reader thoroughly enjoy a book full of errors that break up flow, plot and narrative? They won’t continue reading a book if it’s so poorly put together that the story is choppy, disrupted by grammar and tense issues. I read all the time, I know I’d never finish a book in such shape.
He had self-published, which I must now insist there is nothing wrong with indie authors, but a good one will get their work edited professionally. The stigma that independent authors produce inferior quality work is a very frustrating reality when considering my recent encounter.
I also recall a conversation I recently had with an agent and publisher, who informed me that the worse author to deal with is the one who won’t listen to critiquing, suggestions and feels they know it all. They avoid these authors like a plague. I understand why.
Experienced writers have been down the many roads to getting published; one would think younger authors would appreciate their experience and wisdom. But this is not always the case. People in the publishing profession know what they want and often times, see potential in something if certain changes, corrections or adjustments are done. When an author refuses…, becomes defensive and argues that they are right and the publishers are wrong, this shows a difficult author to work with and one who may remain traditionally unpublished. So is it fair for these now independent authors to ask readers to pay for their unedited books? Of course not, but it does explain the reason why good independent authors struggle to be taken seriously when one bad apple thinks it is okay.
Many times, younger independent authors tell me they don’t understand why they can’t get published. It’s a good question. Did you edit your work, or have it professionally edited? Did you acquire Beta readers who offered critiquing? Have you checked it over for plot issues, grammar mistakes, especially sentence structure? How are you when receiving critiquing? Do you argue, become defensive when someone questions something about your book? All authors are protective of their book babies, but fresh eyes may see things they had not.
We all want to reach that moment when our book publishes. That moment when we are ready to promote and sell our thoughts hangs over our heads as we type that last chapter, but taking your time and developing a good sense of what’s required of you as an author is important. You owe it to those who are willing to buy your book and read it. Remember, first impressions are the most important ones.
As a record, I have always contacted authors when I find far too many errors to give an honest, favorable review. This contact, in my mind, gives the author a chance to get Beta readers, editors and whatever else felt needed, to fix those issues. Once that has been done and the book is ready, I’ll be ready to give that honest review, but not before.