editing rambling

I’m NOT going to mention title or author because she’s indie (and probably very young or uneducated), but I stumbled upon a free read that deserved 1 star for grammar/style/formatting and 3 for story. So I’m not going to mention who suggested it either, but other reviews went from 1 to 5 stars – which probably means something.

What I felt is she uploaded her piece too soon, without even bothering a pass with the spellchecker. Punctuation was an optional, correct formatting of dialog and whatnot almost unknown and similar sounding words (you know, like their/they’re/there?) were constantly misused which made the story really hard to enjoy (and sometimes even to follow). That’s the 1star part.

I hated her crybaby protagonist, which reminded me of a friend’s story in the same genre some 15 years ago, where both her (male) protagonists were crybabies. Here it’s only one, but it’s still too much. But then, I also usually hate romance heroines, so I’m probably the sociopath here! 😉 And I couldn’t appreciate the high school setting, because I’m not American, so it didn’t remind me of anything (which was a good thing for the highest rated reviews).

Anyway, I’m certainly not going back to that author. A typo or two will always be in any manuscript or traditionally published book, but one or two on each page is way too much. Her English is worse than mine (she keeps using “then” instead of “than” by the way…), and I’m not a native speaker, so if I can’t improve MY English, why waste my time! 😉

So what I would like to recommend to ANY and ALL writers is: be aware of your limits. If grammar or punctuation are your weak spot and you don’t have the money to pay a pro editor (like I do with the novels, but not the shorter pieces), find a friend who is an English geek  and use him/her for proofreading. You live in English speaking countries, it can’t be too hard to find somebody! My friends mostly speak Italian (that’s why I rely a lot on my beta from my offline writers group), so it’s harder for me now that I switched languages. But when I did write in Italian, I knew what my weaknesses were and I had specific friends to catch my specific problems (like putting too much Roman dialect in dialog, so I had a Tuscan friend go over it – Tuscany is supposed to speak “real” Italian, so those are the best judges).

It’s hard to catch your own mistakes, so always have at least another set of eyes checking your work of fiction before putting it out there, either as submission to trad pub or uploaded as indie.

Maybe in a few years this author will be the next Amanda Hocking (who has been criticized for bad editing of her best sellers, in case you didn’t know), but at the moment she’s on my “forget her” list… don’t do that to yourself, or even giving away your stuff for free won’t bring in any new readers…

Happy writing!

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  1. Thanks for the review of what you didn’t like about a book and the lesson behind it. Thank you more for not ripping the author to shreds over it by stating her name and book.

    I appreciate the honesty and think we can learn great things from a review like this. Including how to review gracefully.



    • I will NOT bash another author in any review. If I didn’t like the book, I’ll just talk about it in general, without mentioning the title. I don’t want to enter the war between authors. Hopefully I’ll reap what I sow! 🙂


  2. That’s the elephant in the room, so to speak, with self-publishing. There’s lots of quality stuff that can get published this way these days that othrwise wouldn’t see the light of day in a traditional publishing model. But it also opens the doors for, well, anyone with a computer to upload whatever they want… which does not always lend itself to the highest quality output. It’s hard to trust random reviews from anybody on these works, too, because they’re effectively anonymous (and could even be the author trying to pimp his or her own book). It seems like there is a need for some dependable authority on what’s actually worth reading and what isn’t… (Or, more precisely, authorities… since different people will have different tastes.)


    • I admit I don’t read the reviews for anything, I only need to know what the story is about – I’ll be the judge next! 😉
      And yes, I’ve heard of authors who pimp their books with fake reviews (not going to see me do that, but I know it happens) and I’ve heard of people who upload pirated or copied stuff too. So it’s a real struggle – but the good ones will emerge eventually! 😀


  3. Viv

     /  12/07/2011

    This shows what a kind and generous soul you are, Barb and I am sure you will reap the rewards.
    I am not someone who cares much about the mistakes of others, but from what you say, I suspect this would annoy me too.


    • I don’t care if there are typos here and there, but when it spoils the reading experience… you know what I mean! 🙂


  4. Typos annoy me less than inconsistencies. For instance, I read a book recently where they turned on the radio during a power outage, and confirmed several pages later that they didn’t have an emergency radio. I’m sorry you had a bad reading experience, but I think it was nice that you didn’t give up the author’s name 🙂


    • oh, yeah, inconsistencies! That’s something I can have too in the first draft, but when I re-read I usually find them… although another set of eyes is always better to spot those! 🙂
      And when authors confuse their own characters names? Or kill them in one scene and have them back later? And they’re trad pubbed and the editor didn’t spot those either? Happened to me with an Italian fantasy author… I knew her creative writing teacher and complained to him, but obviously there wasn’t much that could be done… but the “gatekeepers rant” is for another post, haha! 😀


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