I’m reading a book a friend recommended… and I’ve been a little temped to ask if he recommended it because he knows the author personally. I haven’t. I don’t want to be disrespectful, but there have been several things that have really bugged me about it, and it got me thinking.
I’m pretty sure it was self published…
|Well would you look what you find when you search 'bad book' teehee|
And I don’t say that to put down all self-published books. I have a lot of friends who are doing it right—going through all the steps and publishing really professional products. I just think there are features of THIS particular book that could not have made it through an actual publishing system.
See, the STORY is pretty good… and there aren’t grammatical and typo-type errors (or they are very rare—I noticed a ‘wrong word’ but those are the ones I find hardest to catch, too).
But what it seems to be missing… and what I can’t actually expect my friend to have noticed… is it hasn’t been edited by someone in the industry.
There is a lot of passive language. Helping verbs. This is normal for speaking when we ‘are describing’ something. It is a natural thing to do. And it is a no-no.
The sentences have a lot of qualifiers (which I probably most especially notice because I have to work so hard to limit these in my own writing—it is just how I talk, so they creep in.
The VOICE of it… it is written in third person but SOUNDS like first person, if that makes sense. I think, in fact, a lot of those qualifiers wouldn’t bug me as much if it were first person. Then I could attribute it to narrator quirk, rather than thinking the NARRATOR (meaning the author) ought to know better.
I will be eager to see if the plotting still is good when I’m further in, as that’s another thing that I think a good editor helps with. In fact, I think that is sort of the first level.
I have a confession.
Fitting, possibly, since confessions is part of my blog title. I am toying with the idea of self-publishing a couple of books. I don’t plan on doing it right away. Like I said, I am honestly just toying at the moment. But my primary reason for WAITING is financial. Professional editors cost money and I’m not going to put my stuff out there without it.
Here is just a SAMPLING of the things my editors have helped with for my Gardening series:
|Contrary to fantasies, super-editor actually has to be HIRED|
You really need to move the body forward. A lot. It should show up in the first few chapters. (I moved the body… in fact rewrote most of the beginning)
“Wouldn’t she know this if they’ve been friends all this time?” (had to give a ‘why not’—clarify the relationship)
“Where did her dad go? Is he at the party like she thought?” (add the sentence to clarify)
See… there are a thousand things we take for granted… that WE know, because it is our story, that a reader might get pulled out of the story wondering… I’ve also had a reader point out the coincidence epidemic (in my 2nd book). This is a good time to point out unlikable heroes and deus ex machina, too.
Is it going to slow?
Is it going too fast?
Has a character shown up who is never introduced?
Is a subplot dropped off the face of the earth?
Is the motivation realistic?
Is the villain canned?
“Sweet Surprise, per first book.” (I inadvertently renamed a place)
“The Fish Market is actually a restaurant. NOT a fish market.” (fact checker extraordinaire…)
And then there is the language, voice stuff and only after THAT the proofreading.
I've had FABULOUS experiences with my editors but the process has made it crystal clear to me that I need not just a person, but a TEAM to make sure my process is fabulous. So until I have money to hire one, I am going to keep running the traditional paces.