How To Ruin A Reading Experience

ağaç altında kitap okumakThe Knight raises his arm into the air, flashing his shimmering steel sword as it soars arcing towards the beast and sices the dragon’s hair off …

Sices? What is sices? Oh you mean slices! Hair? That doesn’t make sense. Perhaps head was what the author meant.

Many of us can understand the frustration at witnessing grammatical errors and poor transitions that can flood our reading journeys with distracting annoyances. As a rapid reader, I find that poor editing is a growing epidemic in storybooks, and grammatical errors and typos aren’t getting fixed any time soon.

While tromping through a wild forest, suddenly the mystery has vanished as you become focused on the poor use of language or misspellings. From my personal experience,  I will admit that this tends to be more prevalent with self-published authors, which are an increasing population. I hesitate to pick a self-published story up, afraid of the grammatical horrors that often lay in wait for me. However, I am also seeing an increase coming from small and large publishing houses. It is almost as though the need for speed to get books on the market has become more important than the actual quality of what it being printed and provided to the public.

Speaking as a reader who loves the stories that authors create, I ask humbly that you take editing seriously. A story can be ruined by the lack of refinement. Stop rushing. Your book will be more successful and enjoyable if you give it a proofread or three proofreads. A well edited book shows the reader that you take your craft seriously and that you want only the best of you to be presented to your eager audience.

There are many fee-based editing resources out there. Even the most amazing and famous author needs to be edited. No matter how awesome you are at proofreading, you cannot be the only eyes on your own work. When we are too close to the content, we make mistakes. Take the time to research for editors and invest in quality rather than quantity.

Of course, editing resources can be found right here at Turn The Page Editing. Here are a few others to check out:

https://www.elance.com

https://www.fiverr.com

https://www.odesk.com

http://www.upgradeyourstory.com

-Sheilah Randall

Advertisements

Self-published authors are NOT destroying literature

snoopy

Today I read a an article at GoodEReader.com by Michael Kozlowski  with the headline, Self-Published Authors Are Destroying Literature. I was immediately offended for all self-published authors who’ve written solid work, I mean what a blanket statement. We all know that the facts are in, and that self-publishing has an obvious role in the future of book publishing, so blaming self-publishing for the downfall of literature seems  rather unrealistic.

For one thing, if you’re going to blame anything, blame digital publishing and the ebook revolution. But honestly,  I didn’t realize that literature was being destroyed. From my perspective, it looks like literature is being expanded to encompass more by allowing writers outside the mainstream to have a voice, while also giving the author more control. So many elitists tout the Big Six (not that I wouldn’t love to have them notice my work) but I’ve got to tell you, some of the stuff being published today by the big publishers is yawn-worthy. It’s almost as if there is a formula for success in certain genres — ahem, young adult or anything to do with vampires.

For awhile there, I didn’t want to get into the whole ebook fad. I’m a print loyalist, I’ve said it before. But then I started reviewing books and it just became the easy way to go about business. Since a lot of self-published books start in the ebook format, I’ve read a few. There have definitely been some less-than-polished products, although our good writer over at GoodEReader.com seems to think self-published books in general “devalue the work of legitimate published authors.”

His argument follows the line of thought that because indie authors often price ebooks between $0.99 and $2.99 that it makes readers unwilling to pay for mainstream work that’s going for $7.99 to $12.99. I’m sorry, but I don’t care if you were published by Penguin or your very own self, I refuse to spend $12.99 on an ebook, except for the one time when I did because I was just so addicted to the series. My excuse is I had a gift card. But in most occasions, I would just rather buy the print edition. You can’t  lovingly turn the pages of a digital copy or see it age and wear with rereads. It is just not worth it to me no matter who you are to buy an ebook at that price. Unless, like I explained before, I was already addicted and not in my right mind. I mean it was like 1 a.m. and I just had to know what was going to happen next.

Here’s the thing, I’ve read self-published stories that I didn’t think were up to par with their editing — a grammar mistake here, a weird space there, or an entire chapter that could have been pulled. I’ve noticed when more editing should have taken place, but I can’t discount that many of the stories have been wonderful. And that’s not to say that all self-published works even have that problem.

Joe Vampire by Steve Luna was initially a self-published work, although he is now published under the Booktrope label. He was seriously a little bit of an inspiration in the vampire genre, where so many authors are trying to ride on the coattails of Twilight. It was refreshing to read a different take in a saturated topic.

I’ve also read truly awful stuff published by mainstream publishers that may have been edited to death, but still have grammatical mistakes. That said, I don’t think self-published authors are singlehandedly destroying quality literature, especially beacuse there’s plenty of quality coming from that spectrum of publishing.

The one area where I can agree with Kozlowski is the tweeting. I follow a lot of authors on Twitter, many of them probably self-published, and my stream is almost a solid mass of writers trying to get people to buy their books. I completely understand that this is one reason why Twitter is helpful, but as a reader, I’m more interested in what they have to say as people. The constant advertisements just blur together, and it’s only when I see someone tweet something interesting that I’ll really pay attention. Initially, when I first started my book review blog I caught a few titles off the digital bookshelf stream, but now I really have no need.

Like most things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many would agree that Ernest Hemingway was an amazing literary author, but I’ve known people who didn’t like his writing at all. E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Gray certainly seduced readers in droves, but I wouldn’t deign to touch the book. So let’s give readers some credit for being able to choose their own literature based on their own personal tastes. If they choose a self-published author over a mainstream author, I’m sure the mainstream author will find plenty of other readers being backed by a big publishing house and the grace of newspaper book review lists. And if it’s bad, then it’ll tank. Like any book.

Just in case anyone thinks I’m writing this because I’m going to hopefully publish my book sometime soon, let me explain. While I respect self-published authors, I in no way want to go that route myself. It just seems like so much work and I want more support for my first book. But it doesn’t mean I never would. Publishing today is a whole new game, one that elitists should get on board with soon because the writing is already on the page.

A rebuttal to “Writers, why does everything need to be a series?”

harrypotterI’ve often heard random people mutter that every book seems to be a series these days. It’s true that the hottest sellers do seem to birth sequel after sequel, especially in the young adult genre. Earlier today, I read a post on author Scott D. Southard’s blog, titled “Writers, why does everything need to be a series?” Well I may not be a published author quite yet, but I’m going to raise you that question and give you an answer, not that you asked. But here you go.

When I first got the idea for my book, let’s tentatively call it “The First Dreamer,” I had no desire to go beyond the one.  This was in 2005 when I was finishing up grad school in Boston by interning for a small, nonprofit magazine.

In my small bedroom in a house shared with three other local students, I got an idea and I started to take notes. Given the fact that I just finished writing the first draft in February this year, it’s been a long time coming. The journey has been fraught with self-doubt, inspiration and a cursor that can delete with a homicidal vengeance. Many ideas and concepts have changed from that first seed of a story.

Along the way, as characters took on life and the idea blossomed and grew, I realized there was just more to tell. The story could not be summed up in only 300 pages. Sure, I could make it one giant book as J.R.R. Tolkien apparently did, according to Southard, but that’s daunting to today’s typical reader. My characters just can’t be confined to one book. They need two more. I may not have set out to write a trilogy, but I lost control awhile back. It’s them. The characters.

There are many different styles of writing. Some authors make detailed outlines, and follow an organized, set way of writing. While others, like me, have only a dream of an idea that needs time and patience to become the full-blown story that it is today. In my case, it’s through the writing process of time that saw my characters become who they are, and the storyline mature in the way it has.

Southard suggests that many authors today decide to write a series for the money. I’m just finding this out, but apparently, series writers were looked down upon at one point. But I can tell you, when I decided that this was going to be a trilogy, money was the farthest thought from my mind. I don’t even know if I’ll make a dime. It was merely that my characters dictated they would not be done in the breadth of one novel. Although I didn’t know what would happen in the first book, their stories became clear to me as I wrote. So I have a pretty good idea how it will end. But you never know. Stories change.

I’m the type of person who would eat dinner with her nose in a book as a kid. Spending the entire day reading a page turner is a luxury I can’t afford since I had a son, but I used to do it all the time. And I love authors who give me more (sorry if I sound like an AT&T commercial). Give me a trilogy, give me a series of 10. If I like the story, then I can’t get enough of it — Babysitters Club, Vampire Diaries, Sookie Stackhouse, Harry Potter, Twilight, Sarah Douglas’ Axis Trilogy, Tanya Huff’s Wizard of the Grove, Louise Cooper’s Time Master Trilogy. I read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, which Southard says was a “philosophical mess,” and which I can’t remember, so it’s possible he was right there. But overall, I haven’t been disappointed; it’s not like the movies where the second one is never as good as the first. In my experience, book sequels rock.

I’m not saying they should go on forever. Every story has an expiration date as does life. But if an author can give me a little more, a little longer of a world I cherish, then I’m perfectly content to read on. And I know there are a lot of readers out there who feel the same way. Otherwise, all the books in a series wouldn’t be doing so well.

Refuting the greatness of the book series, Southard gives  us an example of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, where in several paragraphs, the main character walks the reader through all the outcomes that happen after the book ends. While he seems to think this is just great, I say what’s the fun in that? I want the book. I want to keep living those characters’ lives. That’s when you know you’ve found a great story teller, when you’re sad the book has ended and you’re clamoring to get the second one in the series, and then the third and so on.

Next time I write a book, I hope it’s just one. Because it is probably much easier. The weight of the world continues to be on mine and my characters’ shoulders, so tying up all loose ends in 300 pages would be superb. But that’s just not the case with this first labor of creativity and love. So lookout, the Tresslan Chronicles of the First Dreamer will hopefully come to a book store, or Amazon, near you when my characters tell me they’re done. And then you can expect two more.

Until then, keep reading my friends.