Monday, March 25, 2013

Not Fun...

Wow, I was totally unprepared for anything last week. Had maybe two posts go up and then I got sick. I thought I'd be able to post a couple little bits, but sadly that didn't happen.

I'm feeling much better, but now trying to play "Catch Up" on everything!

My desk still looks like a bomb went off on it. That is one of the things I didn't get to.

I did a lot of reading... well, more like "trying-to-get-past-these-first-few-pages-oh-please-let-this-book-get-better", rather than reading. I think I dumped six books off of my Kindle in one night before I found something I could actually get into.

Here's the thing. I love reading indie authors. I really do! I just don't like how when I choose the books, I have to filter through twenty of them before I find the gem.

Here is why I dumped those six books:

1 - There was one book where the author told me everything. I was sitting through a six page narrative and being shown very, very little. I didn't connect with anything in that book at all. And before I got too invested in it, I skipped ahead and was still being told. So I dropped it.

2 - One book started off great and hooked me, then flopped because it wasn't getting to the point. It more or less was beginning to be all about the teenage girl ogling the "strange, mysterious" boy beside her. I suffered through several chapters with no more information than I had when I started.

3 - Flat, flatter and flattest! No substance to the characters, the story and even the world they were presented in.

They wrote such great blurbs for the books! But once I started reading, it all fell apart very quickly. Typos, grammar errors, lots and lots of mistakes. One dimensional characters and lifeless dialogue.

Maybe being sick made me a bit more grouchy and snarky than usual, but I really had to look at these books, and the authors, and wonder... what the heck?

I know my writing isn't perfect and that I tend to repeat phrases a bit too much. (I'm not the only one!) But I care about what my story is going to look like once it is out in the real world. I'm even ashamed when I come across a typo. (I surely should have caught that before it went to print!!!) But it does happen. I can't fault anyone for being human. But I can sigh and be exasperated at people who do seem to have a talent for writing, but are in such a rush to get their work out there that it is riddled with mistakes.

Sad thing is, that could have been me at one point last year.

I was in such a rush to get my story out there, to put it in the hands of everyone I knew would love it, that I didn't want to take the time to fix it. But I had to. I didn't feel comfortable self publishing my book because I was afraid it, too, would have so, so many errors that people would get through the first paragraph and then just remove it from their e-reader.

Again, I say this: If you are going to self publish your book, polish that baby up! Be proud of what you have created and take the time to dust off the mistakes and clean around the edges to make it shine and be something you can be proud of, not something you want to shun later on down the line.

What turns you off about a book? What advice do you want to give to authors in a rush?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Certainly have someone else edit it first. And too much description turns me off.

Hart Johnson said...

I think you've nailed the REAL problem. The Indie process allows people who aren't ready to bypass the revise revise revise thing. My first drafts OFTEN have some of the problems you are talking about (and I'm writing my 15th book). Had I decided on Indie a long time ago, I may never have learned I need to reach a draft somewhere in the teens before I get to one that is about ready.

Talli Roland said...

Hope you're feeling better!

Wow, that's a tough question. I'd say employ a professional editor and if you can't, try to have at least five different people read it and give feedback - people who know the genre and aren't relatives!

Sanderella said...

Thanks for sharing! I read three novels this weekend and while I wasn't overly thrilled with so much information....the author is famous and the professional published by a good house, so maybe I have something to learn when I get something on paper!!

I also love holding my books...there is something wonderful and magical about holding the actual book itself, turning it's pages! Ha I have tried both ways....prefer the old fashioned way to enjoy my reading! But that is just me!

Mel Chesley said...

@ Alex ~ I agree. I can be descriptive and sometimes I even go too far. But there is such a thing as too much.

@ Hart ~ Absolutely! I revised my stuff lots of times and then went through the wringer with an editor.

@ Talli ~ Good advice! I've let people read my stuff, then revised. Then revised again and again before it went to the editor.

@ Sandy ~ I love a good paperback and how it feels in my hands. But to get through so many books to do review requests, the Kindle wins. Most don't have paperback out yet and I hate making someone pay for shipping just for a review.

Thanks for your comments!

Silvia Writes said...

I've given up on most indie books I've tried before the second chapter. The ones I stuck with were as favors for writer friends. I understand the frustration. Some books published by the big six in NYC don't look a whole lot better. But ... they are readable, if that's even a way to compare.

Silvia (form A to Z Challenge)

Unknown said...

Even with a professional editor, things get through from time to time. Still, you've got to at least make the attempt. It's astonishing the number of people you can have read something over with an eye toward errors and still not find them all.

I'm also a little heartened that I didn't hear anything that sounded like my book among your six. ;)

Donna Hosie said...

I think Jeff makes a good point. Even with a professional editor, things get through. I have the Potter ebooks and the formatting on one was dreadful, including words running together.

Writers have got to take their time.

dolorah said...

I haven't dumped anything from my Kindle yet, but I've started several books that I had to force myself through the first 10 pages. But the books receive awesome reviews, or the blurbs just grab me and I wonder if there is something wrong with me as a reader.

Too much description, angsty swooning characters, a focus on clothing; and certainly technical and formatting errors will have me putting the book away immediately.

Glad you're feeling better Mel :)


Mel Chesley said...

@ Silvia ~ This is true, even the traditionally published have horrible mistakes that you would think someone would have caught.

@ Jeff ~ Yes, there is lots that doesn't get caught even after a dozen eyes have gone over it. But sometimes it makes me wonder if anyone looked over half of them.

@ Donna ~ Again, true. Formatting issues are a big problem going from hardback/paperback to e-Book.

@dHole ~ That's the other thing that gets me! How did they get such good reviews? Half the time I feel like it is just me as well. Glad I'm not the only one. XD

Unknown said...

One of the things that turned me away from self published books completely was the lack of attention to good spelling and grammar. It really annoyed me that some authors appeared to not even edit their own work.


Mel Chesley said...

Yeah, I have to agree with that, Jamie. That's a lot of what I was getting with some of the books. Too much in a hurry to get it out there. Doesn't matter if the story is good, if it doesn't keep my interest, forget it.

Unknown said...

@Mel - No, you're probably right that some (most?) never saw a proper editor when the mistakes are glaring and frequent.

As for the ebook formatting errors, I think it's a combination of lack of technical understanding of the process and a lack of QA. A lot of converters will spit out something functional, but not perfect. You should find a way to check the digital formatting on the major platforms. I have a Kindle, but made a point to borrow a Nook to flip through the whole thing looking for formatting. It's tedious, but unless you're paying someone else to do it, you've got to put that time in.

Mel Chesley said...

See, Jeff, that is what I call professionalism. Taking the time, if you can't afford to have someone do it for you, to make sure you are doing it right.
I know e-books are still kind of "new-fangled" technology. There isn't a lot out there to help you figure out the formatting all on your own. You can't just save the file and "poof!" it works perfectly for each e-reader. This is why it is important to do the homework! :)