It’s nice to be wanted. I know every Indie writer searches for an avid reader like me. I speed read and can easily devour up to 80,000 words a day. I’m always hungry for a good story. I will overlook a lot for that elusive plot that will submerse me in another time and place, leaving behind the troubles of this world.
I’m willing to take on any genre, although I’m not fond of horror. Even then it depends on the voice of the writer and the plot line. It should be a dance between me and the author. I want to be treated with respect and given their finest product.
Yet, I’m finding more often in the Indie world it’s about the writer’s ego and less about my enjoyment. I’m left to fend for myself. I flounder in poor grammar, sentences that make no sense, wandering plots and in some cases, no plot at all.
It’s like dancing with a partner who is clumsy, steps on your toes and is just plain bored with you. This is how I feel when I run across a poorly written story. It is frustrating to see a gorgeous book cover, an enticing synopsis, and then to put down my money, only to eagerly open the first page and begin wading through a poorly written quagmire drenched in disappointment.
I try, I really do. I tell myself that there is a kernel of story in there somewhere. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at some of the “diamonds in the rough” I’ve discovered. Other times I speed through, picking up the gist of the plot, but not slowing to become engaged. It feels like a school assignment. Find the most important parts so I can maybe get something out of it.
Why do I do this? Because I’m not only a treasure hunting reader, I’m also an author. I know the work that goes into writing. I want to reward the poor soul who spent all that time hammering out the story. Sometimes I can’t even do that.
Recently I have taken to writing to the authors in private, asking things like, “What Point of View are you attempting?” Answer, “I’m not sure. I don’t understand POV, I just write.” Or saying to another author, “I believe there are some formatting issues as some of the sentences don’t have spacing between the words.” Their answer, “I just write what I feel and you have to take it or leave it.” Huh?
My favorite was the response to a suggestion I made. “Could I humbly suggest you find a friend who has some editing skills to help refine and tighten up your story. It has a lot of merit.” The response was, “I’ve always been told I’m a good righter and I edited it already. Why waste the money. I made this book to make money.” (And yes, they spelled ‘writer’ as ‘righter’, no joke)
I’m not trying to make anyone look stupid by flaunting my imaginary superior skills. I’m in the same boat as every writer. I have issues, just ask my editor! Really, I’m just trying to understand where the author is coming from. I wondered if the first author mentioned above was trying for an omniscient voice (I struggle myself with POV) and I wanted to warn the second author there were conversion problems in the manuscript (I hire someone to format for me because I’m computer illiterate!).
In the last week I’ve randomly picked and read over ten Indie stories. I have found only two of those that seemed edited and pulled in my interest enough that I actually slowed down to savor the words and delve into the story. At one point as I was slogging through a poorly written story, I stopped to read sentences out loud to my husband. He shook his head, as baffled as I was as to what the author was trying to say.
Unfortunately it showed me why Indies are getting a bad rap. As a frustrated reader I can understand why people would ask for a refund on a digital book. Though I think writing crude, nasty public reviews aimed at an author is rude and defeats the purpose of a review, I can understand the irritation behind one. How do we go about informing authors they need to refine their product?
I suggest not damaging future sales for money or ego. For the sake of the readers, for the sake of the industry, for the sake of trying to sell our work, we need to do our best not only to put a pretty cover on our books, but to make the inside as nice as the outside. Hire an editor as well as a cover artist. It is well worth the investment.