The first time I was asked to review a book, in exchange for a review on mine, I didn’t think much beyond saying “Sure!”
What I received was a “how to lose weight using yoga” guide that was written by a non-English speaker. There were questions asked in chapter headings where no question was intended, a screamingly offensive treatise on “how to tell if you are overweight,” and yoga poses that were not only NOT described, but not pictured.
I sent an email back to the guy and suggested he edit and add some damned pictures.
A few days later, I fell for another one. This woman had a GREAT cover, said she was “bestselling author” and the premise of the book sounded interesting, so I told her to go ahead and send me the pdf. It was laughably short, all of 14 pages long in Adobe Acrobat. Along with it she sent a note, “As a sidenote, I was in such a rush to get this done that I didn’t have it edited, but I think my writing stands well on its own.”
I opened the “book” and found within the first page a paragraph that literally had brackets and said [Insert book title here].
Christ on a stick.
I sent an email back to her and told her I wasn’t going to bother until she was willing to actually edit. Which was pretty kind of me.
And you think I would have learned.
But no, I had to have the lesson taught a third time. The other day I received a request and the link showed a godawful cover – and if you don’t think those things matter, believe me they DO – but a couple of the reviews seemed to indicate that this might be a great story clothed in a dog butt of a book cover. So I said “yes” and did a face palm after reading the first couple of pages.
It was agony reading more than that. It is so bad, SO BAD, that I can’t even tell this author anything good. I mean, it’s middle school kind of bad. I can’t even formulate a response other than to delete it.
I swear, this is the WORST issue I have with self-publishing. We are all standing here, shoulder to shoulder, on the same level playing field. I totally get why some reviewers respond to me (nicely, but still) with a “thanks, but no thanks.”
There is only so much dog vomit one person can willingly consume in a day.
And if I’m sounding like a complete bitch, here is a big admission. I’ve written shit. I have folders full of it. In fact, my first four books remain full of grammatical faux pas and typos. I’ve since learned, under the adept tutelage of my eldest, the proper approach for point of view shifts when dealing with fiction. I have also been admonished on reducing my sentence length.
Part of me wants to charge forward and write a slew of books as I edge closer and closer to notching my belt with that 10,000 hours of writing experience. I have learned so much in the past eight years. I KNOW my past books are not perfect and I struggle to reconcile that, wondering if I should go back and fix them (covers, grammar, pov shifts, and more).
The fact is, after going through some major edits with my eldest, I am ruined for bad writing. As in ruined FOREVER.
I’m still clueless when it comes to conjunctive phrases and all of the technical jargon that English majors seem to know so well, but at least I can say it isn’t as bad as it was.
Last night, I lay down in bed and began to read Yesterday’s Gone by the same authors that wrote Write. Publish. Repeat. I hadn’t gotten more than a few pages before I was jerked out of the story by a weird point of view shift between the mother Mary, and her daughter. That’s when I realized I was ruined forever and there was no going back.
“I am glad you did it, but you have to know that you have ruined me forever. I’ll never be able to read bad fiction again.” I told Dee this morning as we drove to a cleaning appointment.
And it is true. I’m ruined…forever.