A spanking-new self-published author contacted me this morning, requesting that I read her new books. She glowed that she had finished both of her first two books in a total of two months, and would I read and review for her?
Uh. She Really doesn’t want me doing that. Really.
I sent her the following email, and then I thought, “Am I being too harsh?” But no, I don’t think I am. So, whether I was too harsh, or simply fully equipped with a heavy duty set of “Blinders Shears” I do think the things I mention should be important to any “Bright and Shiny New” writer out there who is looking to self-publish.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Though there are other things I considered, what do you consider the most important “Helpful Pointers” you would give a Newbie?
Thank you for considering me as a potential read and review reader.
Please remember, I am a professional editor and marketer. Hence, my thoughts that follow are meant to assist you as a new author, not demean. With that in mind, please give the following comments your attention.
You placed the email addresses of the persons you contacted in the Cc: field, hence sharing their addresses with everyone. This is very poor email etiquette. Those addresses could be utilized by the unscrupulous to spam everyone on the list. Also, sending your books along without being requested is poor form. There is a site called “Instafreebie” you should look into. Authors, including some the the very best, use the service to deliver their books to readers on their “Read and Review” lists. This ensures privacy for the reader and a smooth system of delivery and tracking for the author.
Your email was not well formatted and contained spelling and punctuation errors, which leads the reader to expect that your books will be equally sloppy. I opened your first book in both PDF and Mobi formats and read the first couple of pages. Both are incorrectly formatted, another issue that speaks to your not spending the time to learn how to properly format your books for self publication. While I haven’t checked further than the first couple of pages, I am already finding spelling and duplicated word errors. The sentence structure is extremely staccato, uses modifiers and other forms of speech incorrectly, and generally needs a great deal of editorial work.
Overall, while I understand you are terribly excited, you appear to have jumped the gun on publication. There are great books out there (and some very much ‘not so great’ – you have to be choosy) on proper writing. Take English literature and grammar courses at your local community college. Search out and follow websites that focus on proper writing. And above all? Read the greats in your genre, then compare your writing with theirs. What is it about their writing that captures, and keeps, her or his readers over time? Writing style, character and world building, the rhythm and flow of the writing, proper editing, and formatting. These and so many other things control whether a book is a success or a failure.
Another thing to keep in mind that relates to all these issues is what I call the “Forest Syndrome” in publishing today. Amazon, for one, has literally hundreds of thousands of books on their site. How are you going to encourage readers to search out your particular tree if you don’t give them a product that is flawless? Honestly, I have a “Next!” mentality when it comes to books that are poorly written and edited. If an author doesn’t show pride in their work, I won’t waste my time. Too many books, too little time. Free or not. For all these reasons, I am sorry, but I won’t be reading your books as they currently stand. I could not give an honest review that was anything more than one or two stars based upon what I read. And I won’t do that to you.
Again, I don’t say any of these things to be cruel. I say them so you can Learn. So, grab those English Grammar and Literature classes at the local CC. And don’t forget to take one of your books with you for the class to read. Then, expect to have it ripped apart and put back together again – with you learning the whole way. As Stephen King so bluntly puts it, “To write is human, to edit is divine.”
Again, I wish you the best in your writing career.
Leiah Cooper, Editor/Reviewer
So, I Read This Book Today