Note to my friends who self-pub: I do not necessarily mean you, so please do not get your feathers in a ruffle over what I’m about to write.
First of all, let me say that I support authors who self-publish. I purchase their work. I read it. I may not read the entire book, but I will read as much as I can before putting down the story forever. But also realize I’ve done this with traditionally published work as well. Sometimes a book that has garnered great reviews and has been greatly touted by its publisher does nothing but bore me. All art is subjective.
But I do tend to have a more difficult time with self-published work. Why? Because it usually needs a ton of work to get it to a level where I can thoroughly enjoy it. Much of what I’ve found has been simple grammatical errors. (For example–this is the wrong way to write a sentence: “I think it looks darling,” she smiled. You cannot smile a sentence. You can say a sentence, you can even exclaim these words, though I wouldn’t too often. But it should be written: “I think it looks darling.” She smiled.)
Disclaimer: I am not perfect. I will make glaring errors, probably even in my posts. Maybe even in this one. But I am not trying to sell my blog posts. I am trying to educate, not make a profit. So finding an editor to go over my blog would be counterproductive. But if you are selling your work, you should pay an editor to line edit it! Or at the very least, ask a friend who knows her grammar (such as an English teacher) to go through it with eagle eyes. I cannot stand reading work that throws me out of the story because the author cannot construct a proper sentence. So cease and desist already, folks! Get yourself an editor.
Next up on my list of dislikes: male characters that have a feminine POV because the woman writing the character does not understand how different men are from women. Men and women have biological and psychological differences, and if you don’t agree, reverse the genders in your story and tell me if it still works for you. Trust me, your reader will not find your characters believable if they aren’t developed enough in the proper gender.
Terry slipped an arm around Chris. “I think you know what I want, Babe.”
Chris chuckled. “Oh I know, all right. You want a piece of me. But you should’ve thought about that while we were waiting in line at Macy’s. Tapping your foot and complaining isn’t exactly a turn-on.”
Terry gave an impish grin. “You’re cute when you’re mad, you know.”
“You’re just plain mad,” Chris said, shoving Terry playfully.
Tell me, who was the female and who was the male? Reverse the roles to read it the other way. Does it sound strange to you? If so, then you can see how important gender roles are. Still, in so many self-published novels, the guys sound…well…like women. They think like women. Act like women. I’m not asking you to have your men be brutes. But they aren’t going to be sizing up people the same way. I guarantee you a man is not going to look at a women’s clothes and think: The yellow gabardine fabric of her jacket clashed with her silky crimson lipstick.Yet, that’s exactly the kind of thing I’ve been reading in the self-pubbed books. Most men do not know the name of fabrics, much less care about them. If you want to create a male character that does this, better give us good reason for why he’s knows about this type of thing. And why he would care.
These are just a few reasons why I have trouble getting through a self-published book. Again, it’s not every self-pubbed book. I’ve read many that are well-written, but it seems to be the majority. I worry that readers’ standards will drop if these points aren’t taken care of. So please, consider finding an editor. If not for my own reading pleasure, but for mankind’s.
I will still support your endeavors. But I won’t pick up your second book if I couldn’t get through the first.