Reading and Writing

I have discovered one downside to becoming a writer. Actually two, and they’re related. I used to read voraciously, and now am struggling to finish a book, even one I like very much. Just as I am ready to sit down for an hour or two of comfortable reading, one of my characters will grab me and drag me back to my computer. It could be a character from either of the books currently in the writing stage, or one from the book that the editor will start work on next week. They are insistent, and the ideas are sometimes so important that I must write them down, or run the risk of forgetting.

There’s another problem that arises in reading that I never had before. I was more lenient with those not totally skilled in the art of writing if their story was good. Having struggled through the polishing of my work now in editing, I find I am less tolerant of those who have not put in the time and effort that I have. One of the big downsides of self-publishing is that writers can take shortcuts that would not be allowed in a thoroughly vetted work. The first obvious shortcut is the failure to utilize a proofreader. When every paragraph has a mistake of some sort or another, misspelling, bad punctuation, bad grammar, homophones (you get the idea), I cannot tolerate it. More insidious is the book that has not been given at least one editorial pass. Writers who make the same mistakes over and over are easy to spot. Writers who fill their books with excessive modifiers and telling, rather than showing, are not as quickly discoverable. And hope springs eternal that the problem will resolve. These are ultimately killers of the reader’s appetite for the book in question.

And, as I write this, I realize there is one other problem. If no one has reviewed your book in any way, why do you automatically assume that you have a good story? Beta readers, writer workshops, myriad other tools are available at little or no cost to give the fledgling writer a quick read for issues regarding story telling. When I have so little time to read, I don’t want to waste it finding out whether there is a story there. I delete books from my nook and my kindle with reckless abandon if I have not been hooked within the first twenty pages. Sometimes sooner.

Please, self-publishers, get professional help before you publish your book. Once you have lost a reader, you will have to fight ten times as hard to get that reader back. I am going into debt to get my book edited and published. Why? Because I will not put out bad books, even though I will be able to fix it later. I will publish only when a professional editor agrees that my work is ready to be published. Please do the same.

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