Everyone has a different idea on what makes a book great, or just good; as many different styles of writing exist as are the number of opinions readers have about them, and all are valid from the readers’ points of view — even if they are vastly different. What I’d like to share today is from my experience of reviewing indie authors’ books, and the main reason I refuse reviews for an author, no matter their writing style, genre or quality.
In the past several months I’ve been asked to review books for new authors, not as an editor but as an avid reader. These books had already been published and supposedly had gone the rounds of editing. In over 50% of the books I read, the typos were so plentiful I simply stopped reading. My overdeveloped sense of proper grammar and punctuation (yes, you can call me a grammar nazi) would not allow me to continue reading; my brain was so offended by the amount of errors I couldn’t concentrate on the story. Only one book had a story so compelling I overlooked the misplaced or missing punctuation and misspelled words, but had they been in the first couple chapters I would have immediately put it down unfinished.
As an indie author I understand how hard it is to get readers and a loyal following. One way to increase your exposure is by sending free books to readers in hopes of a review; if you skimp on the editing process and produce a book that is not as perfect as you can possibly make it, you are only hurting your reputation and your sales. I know I will never try another book from the authors who did not put forth the work to polish what might be their masterpiece.
Self-publishing a book is a time consuming process, and many writers rush the final steps in anticipation of releasing the next best seller. It can also be an expensive process if you are not lucky enough to have style-educated beta readers or friends who are willing to look for grammar and spelling errors. A quality editor for a full-length novel can cost several hundred dollars — and even if you think you can’t afford it, you will never sell books without the attention to detail provided by a real editor.
I asked one author how she could publish and print a book with dozens of mistakes, and she replied that she had two people proofread and she wasn’t aware anything was still incorrect. And as writers, we cannot pick out the errors in our own work after staring at the same pages for so long; we see what we are expecting to see.
My advice to authors is this: spend the money on quality, thorough editing by a professional. If you don’t have the money, charge it, borrow it, save up by making all your coffee at home — but make this a priority. You don’t give yourself a chance for your brilliant work to be discovered and read if readers sense you didn’t put in the effort to allow them to enjoy your writing.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
MELISSA BUROVAC is a writer and photographer on Kauai, Hawaii. An avid outdoorswoman, Burovac enjoys outrigger paddling—both one-man and six-man—SUP, running, surfing, sailing, and scuba diving, as well as yoga. She is always up for adventure and loves doing things that scare her a little.