Make your work better

Jan Verbist of  Belgium via stock.xchng

For the first time since entering the world of the self-published on Amazon and becoming familiar with hundreds of books through various free e-book announcement websites, I deleted a Facebook share about a free e-book.

I am happy to help other authors whenever I can through reviews, sharing links to their books, giving their Facebook pages a “like,” tweeting and posting links to their blogs on this page.

Unless we’re on the bestseller lists, we can all use as much help as we can get, right?

Normally, I don’t share books, even free ones, without checking out the “Look Inside” feature and reading the synopsis on their product page. I should have held to that standard the other day, when I lazily clicked the “share” button on a Facebook post by one of the free e-book announcement sites.

By the time I moseyed on over to Amazon to check out this particular novel, hours had passed. By the time I gave up on slogging through the “Look Inside” feature, I was horrified.

Yes, it was that bad. No, it was worse. Terrible writing, inept editing – assuming any editing was done at all – and an author that displayed a lack of professionalism by arguing with a reviewer over a low rating.

While I have read numerous complaints on the web about poor writing being rampant on Amazon due to the ease of self-publishing, I honestly hadn’t seen much evidence of that.

Maybe it’s luck, or maybe friends and fellow writers who recommend books are more trustworthy – I don’t know. I have about a hundred books on my Kindle, and while they aren’t all Pulitzer material by any stretch, so far, I have read several new authors’ work and enjoyed it.

Thanks to Kindle and book recommendations, I’ve been able to stretch my reading experience to embrace YA, paranormal mysteries and romances, historical fiction and Christian fiction. Even those books that weren’t exactly my favorites appeared carefully edited and the authors displayed excellent writing, plotting and pacing skills.

Not this one. My Internet connection is always slow, but I did my best to race back to my Facebook page and delete that ill-considered “share.” I hope no one saw it.

If you are going to publish an e-book and hope to make some money off of your work, please be considerate of your readers. Do the scut work that goes hand-in-hand with all types of writing and don’t publish until you’re sure the work is as good as you can make it.

  • Edit
  • Find some beta readers and listen to them when they tell you about a problem or make a suggestion for improving the book. Make the changes you agree with.
  • Look for redundancies, misused homonyms and other bugaboos spell checkers can’t see and then eliminate them with extreme prejudice.
  • Edit
  • Check for overused punctuation and adjectives; too many semicolons in a work of fiction can be distracting! Likewise, exclamation points.
  • Edit
  • Is there a word or phrase you can never type properly? Do a search for it. My little gremlin is “does not,” which turns out “doe snot” every. single. time.
  • Read the whole blasted manuscript aloud and be prepared to make notes, because you will hear plenty of mistakes in grammar, flow, plot, etc. 
  • Edit
  • There is nothing wrong with said in dialogue. You can use it a million times in a row and your reader will not notice. Said is virtually invisible to most readers. But if your characters yell, scream, scoff, pant, ejaculate, reiterate,demand, observe, etc. all through the book, your readers will notice.
  • Edit

Writing is fun for those often strange folk who have something to say and want to say it to the world.

Editing is only fun for those even stranger folk who, for reasons I don’t quite fathom, decided to become grammar, punctuation and language experts. 

Fun or not, if you aren’t going to edit your work to infinity and back, consider hiring someone who will attack that manuscript like a buzzard discovering fresh roadkill. In the long run, you will find the money well spent.

Photo courtesy of Jan Verbist of Belgium via stock.xchng

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One response to “Make your work better

  1. Great post! I love the “doe snot.” My main character, Katie, comes out Kaite ever time. Not sure why our fingers are so stubborn?

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