Friday, August 11

Bad Books and the Reader who Hates Them

Happy Friday Wranglers! My post-RWA Conference weeks have been a flurry of activity and I can’t
believe we’re already well into August! Aside from catching up on my z’s and pondering all my conference learnings, I closed on my mother’s house, sent the kiddos off for their first few days of school, returned to writing on my third book with a surprising amount of renewed focus, and promised hubby I’d start a serious job search this month. So, to recap: yay, yay, YAY, blech. ;-)

But what I really want to talk about today, and which fits nicely with this week’s National Book Lover’s Day, is my renewed interest in reading. I’ve heard it before and it was stated many times during the conference: a good writer is an avid reader. While my current level isn’t anywhere near “avid,” I have been reading these past couple of weeks. For fun. Which means I’m not counting the “How To (Insert Writing Skill)” books I purchased based on the recommendations of the many workshop presenters… you know, the books that will surely kick my career into overdrive just by the sheer fact that I purchased them.

I have been reading actual books. Romance (go figure) books. And my take-away from this renewed experience? PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY GET A GOOD EDITOR!

I know I’ve said this before, and my heart hurts having to scream it again. And maybe I’m just a picky bitch. Oddly enough, this isn’t a traditional vs indie published issue. In fact, the books that were represented by “publishers” seemed to be the worst offenders. And it’s not newbie writers either. I read a range, from new author to established, bestselling author. And, no, I am soooo not going to name names or titles…Just because I winced every time an author breaks one of the many writing commandments I’ve been taught doesn’t mean that another reader won’t be able to look beyond and enjoy the story.

But I truly think the books could have been stronger if they had been more thoroughly edited. One book didn’t even have an editor listed… just a proofreader. Well, that proofreader missed a lot. So much so that my head has a permanent welt from banging it in frustration. In these books, I found spelling errors, little words missing or added (like when if we type to quickly an forget should reread for correctness… see what I did there?), head hopping (seriously, just because the reader can keep up with whose POV we’re in, doesn’t mean an author should hop around with each paragraph), passive sentence and verb structure, flabby writing, blasé verb choices…. The list continues and my reader enjoyment plummets.

Now, I know I’m not perfect. I’m sure my books have errors in them (just as I was about to hit “publish” on my first book, my eye caught a sentence talking about my heroine’s “wonton dreams.” Apparently she was hungry for Chinese food, Lol…). But not because my editor, writer friends, and I didn’t scour the story with a fine-toothed comb to prevent them. Stories that are rife with these issues tell me that the writer either didn’t know these basic writing tenets (yes, I’ve been that writer before!), or that they don’t care. They raced to get the story published without stopping to truly craft the best book possible. As a reader, I feel cheated. And I personally won’t be reading those authors again.

So, rant over. I’ve since cleansed my offended reading palate with a couple books by local writer pals, and thoroughly enjoyed them (Here, I’ll name names: Jillian Jacobs and Gina Drayer). Cleanly edited, well-crafted stories which immersed me in their characters. Yes, I’ve lost a lot of sleep this week because I couldn’t put the books down. And I’m a satisfied reader because of it!  

Let’s get some dialogue going here… Are you able to look past poor editing (Nan, I think I know your answer ;-)

13 comments:

  1. Yay for you! I just left a review for a book written by a local author who should have known better. He wrote for a newspaper, for heaven's sake--he should have hired an editor! It could have been such a good review...

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    1. I hate feeling this way because I really wanted to like those books, but I just can't!

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  2. Um, no. Feels like I should add more to this, but anything I said would sound like promotion for own editorial services, so just no.

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    1. Understood! Some suggestions on how to find a good editor might be helpful (not that I'm looking... mine is awesome!!) ;-)

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  3. The rare and tiny flaw in an otherwise engaging story I can likely forgive. But omg I am totally with you otherwise.

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    1. Maybe that was part of my problem... Either the stories weren't engaging enough to keep me overlooking the issues, or the issues kept me from immersing myself in the stories... Whichever the case, that was money and time that I'll never recoup!

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  4. Nothing takes me out of a story faster than something where the editing is either horrible or nonexistent. I can't see spending the time on writing a book and not investing in a good editor.

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    1. "Investment" is the key, isn't it? Any new business or career requires that a person invests time and money in order to be successful, and I feel like these authors cheated or sought to cut corners, at the reader's expense...even if they did so unintentionally.

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  5. I can look past a typo or two, but consistently missed little things - yeah, that drags me right out of the story.

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    1. I have to confess I felt like a little kid declaring "unfair!" because I can't also get away with the same stuff! ;-)

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  6. I was reading a book, and everything I got hammered for, was in this book. So I looked up the editor and fees, and figured out the author paid somewhere around $4000 for the service. I began to wonder what exactly she changed. For that reason, I had a hard time with it, even though the plot was interesting

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  7. *Gasp!* *Choke!* $4000?!? Yep, that's a LOT of money to spend on editing... especially for a final product that was less than stellar. Of course, our editors can lead us to water, but they can't make us drink. Right?

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  8. Since I'm currently working with an editor on the first book in a three book series that I'm planning to self-publish, this is a very timely discussion for me. Fortunately, I'm not paying any where near $4000 (*choke*), but I'm definitely getting my money's worth. Both of us are working very hard to get rid of mistakes and errors and just bad storytelling. Getting this right is too important. I don't want to be one of those writers you never want to read again.

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