I posted my first negative review today.
Usually I don’t write a review unless it is four- or five-star. This was a two-star because the story idea itself was good. What I hated was the constant shift from present to past tense. After while, I got so irritated I had to stop reading. I didn’t throw the book across the room as I was tempted to do because it was on my iPad. Still.
I couldn’t imagine how this got past an editor. My editors are super sharp and pick up on the teeniest error in grammar or spelling. They question why a character did something that was, well, out of character. They highlight sentences that don’t make sense to them.
So how did this happen? I did a search for the publisher and discovered the book was the sole offering. In fact, the author owned the publishing house.
That’s not uncommon these days. Self-publishing is taking off, but this book pinpoints the dangers. The author should have hired an editor before they (I’m using “they” instead of he or she) put it out in the world. If they couldn’t afford an editor — and I know it is expensive — they could have used a critique partner who wasn’t a best friend and therefore biased, or a beta reader, ditto.
Lacking that, there are countless sources for self-editing your book. Editor Chris Roerden, who will be a presenter at the Carolinas Writers Conference (Wadesboro, N.C.) in April 2016, wrote a book called “Don’t Sabotage Your Submission.” There are many other self-help books if you do a search.
There on on-line courses. RWA has many and you don’t have to be a member to enroll. Or find a local writers’ group that can offer workshops or constructive criticism.
If you are contemplating self-publishing, making certain your book is the best it can be before putting it out there is just common sense. Nobody wants a bad review if it the issues that alienated the reader could have been avoided in the first place.