Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Editors Against Unedited Ebooks

It's funny that despite how much reading I do for my job, in the evenings I still like to unwind by.... reading.

I pulled out my Kindle Fire the other night and browsed the "free" ebook section. There are so many to choose from, I shouldn't need to actually BUY an ebook, right?


I picked a few titles that looked interesting--nice covers, good descriptions, and good ratings (if any).

After downloading a few, I decided to begin reading a general fiction mystery type. It was part of a series, so if I liked this one, others were waiting for me afterwards.

I was expecting a lot more than I received. Only a few pages in, I shut down the book completely. I couldn't go on.

It wasn't the story, or the writing, or anything vulgar. It was the sheer volume of editing mistakes. It wasn't just here and there--it was everywhere. And it wasn't stuff that just "editors" would get--it was basic stuff that I would hope most English speakers would grasp.

No matter how good the story was, I just couldn't read it. The horrible grammar was too distracting. Misplaced commas, misspellings, capitalization issues, and more. I was so disappointed.

It's really too bad. And it probably happens more now than ever before. Would-be authors have instant access to getting their work "published," as it were. Self-publishing companies, a.k.a. vanity publishers, are everywhere. Even some of the bigger publishers have self-publishing "divisions" giving authors a false sense of hope that they will get great service. Also, it's so easy and cheap to publish just as an ebook, authors forget that may "easy and cheap" are probably not the best way to publish.

In reality, these companies are doing would-be authors no favors. Self publishers put out thousands of titles per year, and there is no way they can give the service and attention each title needs in order to become a quality piece of work or to aide the author in becoming successful.

I was telling a friend the other day that so many people dream of one day becoming an author. But so many make the mistake of rushing to the finish line. Rather than take the time to get the right publisher, they randomly pick a vanity publisher. A day, week or month later, their book is ready! But it's not what they expect. Publishing is all that happens. Their dream comes true and basically dies all in the same day. The story may be out, but the chances of their title succeeding is so slim. They find that bookstores won't carry it, reporters won't take it seriously, readers are hard to find, and the whole experience is much less glamorous than they thought.

It doesn't have to be so tragic.

Take this editor's advice and please, please search out a traditional publisher. Take the time to find one that fits your manuscript. Traditional publishers have editing teams that will take the time to go through your manuscript and make sure it is ready for people to read. They will help you develop your story to make it better. They will help other readers, like me, want to keep on reading after the first few pages.

Perhaps I will pay a little extra $$ for quality ebooks from now on.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why Books Should Have Ratings

I was flipping through the Netflix instant movie selection the other day, looking for something interesting to watch. I enjoy a good suspense, action, romance, or comedy as much as the next person. But there is definitely one requirement that is non-negotiable--the movie's rating.

I decided long ago that I would not watch anything rated R. It is a personal choice, mostly religious based. It's a way to keep foul language and questionable sex scenes or blood and guts out of my life. Plus, there are plenty of other great movies out there that are less violent and sexy and foul, so why waste my time watching smut?

I work for a publishing company, and one thing we don't tolerate is smut. As we explain to our authors, it doesn't take a lot of imagination to write swear words. And as readers are going along, they tend to focus on the swear words or sex scenes and not the plot or characters. Sort of defeats the purpose, wouldn't you say?

I recently got a Kindle Fire, and while browsing what ebook I could read next, I was overwhelmed with the volume of choices. I finally settled on a book recommended by a friend. Thankfully, it was free of swearing and sex scenes. I could focus on the story itself rather than bring smut into my life.

Now I'm browsing for something else to read. As I swipe down the list of choices, I look at book covers and read summaries. Some "smut" is easy to spot right away, especially if there is a half-naked woman on the cover. Something like that is perhaps something I wouldn't appreciate. Sultry romance novels, no thanks.

Reading the book's summary, sometimes I'll see a swear word or see something about how the main character is a cheater -- again, it is easy to see that this book is something I wouldn't enjoy reading.

But other books are harder to decipher. How do I know just by looking at the cover and the description that it's as clean as I'd like it to be?

That's why I propose books have a rating system. Something like movies would be ideal in my mind. If I knew a book was rated R, I would simply avoid it. There are plenty of other great books out there to read, so I wouldn't waste my time reading smut (well, starting to read it and then putting it down or deleting it) and get to the good stuff.