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…