Attention New Writers!

Because I like to support new writers, I often buy books from them for my Kindle. Unfortunately, too many have self-published before they were ready.

What I think is happening is because it is so easy to self-publish, new writers aren't learning enough about writing.

Oh, I know everyone says there aren't any writing rules, or you should ignore them, but back when you had to find a publisher who liked your work well enough to publish you, there was a lot you could do to make sure you were ready.

I'll step back to when I began. 

First, I read a lot. I knew what a book looked like. Nowadays, I've purchased books that were formatted so strangely, it made me wonder if the author actually ever looked at the inside of a book.

I read all the articles about writing n Writer's Digest.

Going to writers' conferences taught me to so much, Even today I always learn something new when I attend one.

Because I sent my manuscripts out to agents and publishers, I received lots of feedback that I could use to make my writing better.

And through the years I've learned so much from the critique group I attend faithfully.

Also, I never send a book out to be published or the ones that I self-published without being edited by an editor.

What I've been reading lately is so full of problems I know it wasn't looked at by an editor.

Not every typo is going to be caught by an editor, but when there are typos on nearly every page it makes the reading very difficult. Simple things like repeated phrases right in the same sentence would definitely be caught by an editor.

One of the big problems I see a lot of, is the writer not having a clue about how to handle point-of-view. That's something you can learn about at writing conferences.

The book I'm trying to read now has an interesting premise, but with some good editing it could be a really good book--right now, it isn't.

Please, new writers, do yourself and your potential readers a favor and have a real editor check your work before you self-publish.



Shalanna said…
Amen! I often try out work from new writers because I'm hoping to discover the next "must buy" author. Many times I see the same old typos, howlers ("As we walked, the house turned the corner"), misused words ("disbursed" for "dispersed," aaarghh), and grammatical errors. But what bugs me the most is when a book has promise, but needs editing. Many, MANY books begin with Something Really Exciting, but after a couple of pages, the narration flashes back to the heroine's college days, how she was brought up, why she left her last boyfriend, how she moved here because of blah blah, and so forth. This backstory fill lasts for a few pages, and then we find out that the Really Exciting thing wasn't real, or was a mistake, or was easily ended. Aarghh! So always have at least a few trusted beta readers and a copyeditor, if not a developmental editor, look at your work BEFORE it goes into the formatting process to be published.
Randy Rawls said…
Marilyn. You are oh, so right. I read self-pub'ed books that break every "rule" in our business. Yeah, I know, there are no rules. I have to say that's an Agent's line. Every reader knows there are rules when he/she sees them broken. For a bunch of years, I've taught a class I call "Boot Camp for Writers." In it, I hit some of the things I've learned through the school of hard knocks. The same things you mentioned, plus others. Now I've turned it into a How-To book I call "Randy's Boot Camp for Writing Fiction." Changed the name so it wouldn't conflict with any others. It'll be available soon. Hopefully, if you and I and others who've been around the block as long as we have keep nagging at newbies, they'll come around and the future of fiction will be bright -- self-pub'ed, or not. Keep hammering them.
Thank you, Shalanna and Randy for agreeing.

What is sad is the book I'm reading now I would have loved to have given a review--but I just can't. I have a feeling the author would be offended if I told her she needs to take th book down and go over it again.
Lorna Collins - said…
As an editor myself, I agree completely. I don't catch all of !y own errors, even with the help of my critique group. We always use beta readers once the manuscript is complete. They point out the issues we miss. I have slogged through what should have been a good book, hating every !minute, but hoping it will get better. It doesn't.
Thonie Hevron said…
I agree with you, Marilyn and everyone above. In some cases, the editing takes as long as the first draft, for me. There are rules, no matter who says there aren't. Readers have expectations and clean, formatted copy is paramount--certainly for me. My books are edited, proofed, re-edited, critiqued, re-edited, then read aloud. I use editing programs, editors, critique group partners, beta readers (big one for me--credible beta readers to catch cop procedure mistakes) and my own techniques to make my works readable.
Then, Marilyn, what do you do about an author who asks you to read and review their work--and it has all the above issues going on? I've wrestled with that several times.
Thonie, that's the problem I'm having with the book that prompted this post. I know the author and I can't review the book. I don't know whether she knows I'm reading it or not. If she should ask me for a review I'll have to tell her, it needs major editing. That's hard to do. But I took a lot of that kind of criticism in the beginning and though it hurt, it made me grow as a writer.
Lester said…
I suppose this is why some big distributors still will not handle self-published books. I totally agree with what you are saying. I've been looking at some of these books on Kindle, and have been very disappointed in the lack of quality. In some cases, I'm not sure that even an editor could resurrect the results. Everyone wants reviews, but I don't have the heart to do it to them, because I know what it feels like. On the other hand, I look at a listing of publishers and my heart sinks. I hear of people like Charles Martin getting 85 rejections on their first novel, and my heart sinks some more. Recently, I read a post where the author said that he has published over a hundred books. I know, without reading a word more, that it isn't worth even joining the conversation. Yet I can't help but feel sorry for these people. The hedge around genuine publishers is so thick and thorny that most of us will never find a hole to get through....
Hi, Lester, the biggest problem with small publishers, even the best of them have problems at times.

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