Not all of them, of course. There are those I trust to tell me about books that I not only might enjoy, but that will also be readable. Not because I already have too many books to read. Impossible. I have decided that I cannot die until I read all the books on my tbr lists, so I am pretty much guaranteed immortality if I keep adding more, yes?
Let me give you an example of what I really mean. This is based on an actual event:
Friend and I are talking, and Friend says, “Oh! I have a book you should read. It’s really good, and I think it’s just the sort of thing you would like. And I know you will love Author Writer. As an independently published writer yourself, I know you will appreciate their writing. I loved it!”
And then there’s the double whammy (which doesn’t occur often, but it does happen): “And, you know, Author Writer is also a friend of mine.”
(Outwardly) “Really? Well, I’ll look it up and see what I think. Thanks!”
Because what happens far too often is I went home, got on the computer, and went to Amazon. Typed “Author Writer” in the Books search and found the book recommended. I read the book description. It was long and rambled a bit, and could have used a bit of editing. But the basic story was pretty much in my wheelhouse: urban fantasy, mythology, religion, mystery, end of days, all that. I liked the idea, so I downloaded the sample.
I repeat: *facepalm*
The opening two paragraphs were wildly overwritten and repetitive. Author Writer seems never to have met an adverb or adjective they didn’t love. Okay, I am not Stephen King and think you should kill them all, but four or five in one sentence is a bit much. Author Writer could have looked at a refresher course on when to use- and when not to use- commas. And that Subject + Verb (+ Object) = Proper Sentence Structure. There was more, and that was only half of the sample read. If it were priced at a buck or two, I might have bought it anyway, because the story idea does intrigue me. But I just don’t know if I can justify five for a book that really needed both a content editor and copy editor. And now I have to tell Friend (because, of course, they will ask):
Story Idea: Good
Mechanicals: Not so much.
Okay, I hear you out there: “So, you’re such a great writer you can criticize like that?”
Uh, no. I know I am not a great writer. I probably never will be. That’s why my current project is out with readers right now. Not readers who will come back to me with: “It’s perfect just the way it is!” Or “I love every word!” Or “When will we be able to buy it?” No. They are going to tell me: “WTH was going on in Section? I had no idea what you were talking about!” And: “Uh, Character J? If he were any more cardboard, he could be one of those life-size cut-outs they sell at comic book stores.” And “That ending just sucks. It’s predictable and trite and not at all satisfying.” Do I WANT to hear that? No. Do I NEED to hear that? Damn straight. And so does every author, traditionally published or not.
You hear it all the time as an independently published writer. Get (good) beta readers. Get an editor. Get a copy editor. So many don’t bother. They think they can do it all themselves. You can’t, simply because you are too close to the story. You know all the behind-the-scenes bits and pieces. It all makes sense to you, even if it doesn’t to someone who doesn’t know anything about it. And at the very least and for the sake of all of us who have to read your stuff- learn to use the language. Look up that word that you are pretty sure you are using correctly (you’re probably wrong. I know I often am.). Get a copy of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, and use it. Understand the judicious use of adjectives, and most especially, adverbs. Your writing will be better for it.
Oh, I know I am picky. But I kind of like the English language, for all its faults and oddities. I try to use it correctly, to know the meanings of the words I choose, and to put together sentences that both make sense and tell a good story.
Oh, and friends? Keep recommending books to me. I love discovering new writers and good stories. But put it through a quick readability test first. Twelve grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors on the first page? You might be able to ignore that. I know there are people who can. I probably can’t.
After five years away, Kaili is coming home for the ceremony to install her sister as head of the family business. When an old rivalry threatens the family, Kaili and her partner need to use all their skills to save the sisters’ lives. Learn more here.
A collection of six short fantasy stories set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Learn more here.
A short novelette set in a dystopian Earth after the final environmental collapse. Sam is a genetically engineered chameleon who may hold the key to mankind’s survival. Learn more here.
In a world reeling under the effects of severe climate change, food shortages are common, and arable farmland is scarce. Unscupulous distributors like Beni Oligowma take advantage of the shortages for their own gain. When a promising new technology for growing food even under the harsh conditions is unveiled, grocery store owner Frank is determined to see that everyone is able to benefit from the results, not just the Benis of the world.
Feed My People is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free. Learn more here
Demon hunters Johnny and Cerise travel to the small town of Carroll Fork where they find a demon-possessed thrift store, a sweet old lady who is more than she seems, and an army of underworld inhabitants. Can Johnny and his trusty yo-yo save the town from a devil of a problem?
Five and Daemon is a short novelette in an urban fantasy setting, with elements of the supernatural and humor. It is free to download.
Learn more here