I just wrote the nastiest review I’ve ever written in my life.
The review is only on Amazon, and that account is not linked to my name. It was a romance book, but not in any of the subgenres I’ve mentioned in my blog or read often. I will not be marking the book in any way on Goodreads. Yes, I’m taking a hit on read-books tally just to avoid any sort of tracing. There is no way you will ever know which book I’m referring to, and that’s for a lot of reasons. One of the most important ones is the fact that it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter as long as you read the reviews. So this is a cautionary tale.
I’m going to start not at the very beginning of the tale, but a little further in. I’ve read one or two chapters when I realize this book hasn’t had any form of line editing. The author might have gotten some editorial help at the plot (or developmental) level, but absolutely no assistance was sought for the words, the structure, the grammar. The lines. In the publishing industry, there are line editors, copy editors, and proofreaders. There are also computer programs that do an okay job at it. Some of them are free.
What I’m saying is there are options.
And I promise I’m not a nitpicker. Even in traditionally published books, errors happen. Most books I pick up at least four or five. I never say anything about it except to laugh and maybe use it as an example when I’m talking grammar. I get it. It’s hard to be 100% on the editing game 100% of the time, and the apps aren’t going to pick everything up.
But this was every. Single. Page.
Serious typographical issues. I’m not joking when I say that there were random extra periods all over the place. Screwed up quotes. Don’t get me started on the commas—and, again, I give tons of leeway for the commonly broken comma rules. One semicolon and, yeah, totally wrong placement.
Homophones. Incorrect conjugations—again, nothing crazy like swum. Basic past tense and pluralization were regularly ignored. Repetitive words. Bad pronouns. Painfully unnatural dialogue.
Usually a book in this condition falls into two categories. It’s either a new author who hasn’t learned yet that they’re not as good as they think (none of us are, it’s okay), or it’s a well-established author, and this is one of their early books. I guess it’s the same thing in a sense, it’s just whether the author is now better or not. I remembered this author had several books with good ratings, so I assumed it was the second category.
I finished the book and found myself unsatisfied (obviously), but I saw potential in it. Surely, this was her first foray into self-publishing and she’d since learned. So I go to her Goodreads page.
And now I take you back to the very beginning of this story, the beginning that I’d totally forgotten about when I made the grand assumption that this book was a learning experience:
I found this book on Amazon’s Top 100 List for its genre.
This was not some naïve author, and this was also not an author who was not getting enough return on her books to warrant paying an editor. This was an author with several dozen books that were popping into the top rankings for their genre.
Now, you might be thinking that this doesn’t mean she’s raking in big money, and that’s fair. It’s possible she’s invested so much in marketing that the sales aren’t that much. Absolutely. But she doesn’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for an editor. Grammarly, Pro Writing Aid, and Hemingway all have either free versions or are affordable.
And here’s the thing: I’ve written this whole thing full well knowing I don’t pay a penny for editing. I do it myself. My writing partner looks over some things, but I’ve definitely put out some stuff without another set of eyes or a computer looking over it. Despite that, I’ve had exactly one reviewer mention errors in one of my books, and it was valid. It was a book that I had on a tight deadline that I had to send out to early reviewers before my final edit. What that reviewer saw was not what went to people who purchased it, and I regret having given it to the reviewer without letting her know that.
I don’t worry about professional proofreading because I have the social proof from my reviews to verify that I’m utilizing that knowledge properly. I also have a degree in English, but don’t ever trust when people say that.
Every one of this author’s negative reviews—of which there are plenty—go after the abysmal editing. Unless she has never once looked at her reviews, she knows.
SHE JUST DOESN’T CARE THAT SHE’S SELLING UNEDITED CRAP AND PERPETUATING THE BELIEF THAT SELF-PUBLISHERS ARE INFERIOR. SHE DOESN’T CARE BECAUSE ENOUGH PEOPLE ARE STILL READING IT.
She doesn’t care that you, the reader, will have a worse experience because of her laziness. She doesn’t care that her reputation is suffering. She doesn’t care that she’s making her entire subgenre look bad. I picked this book because it was the first one on that Amazon list that was available in Kindle Unlimited and had the heat I was looking for. That’s MAJOR.
The worst part for me personally is I probably know her. I’m in a lot of writing groups. Our genres cross over. If she is in writing groups as well, we’ve probably interacted. I’ve probably been wowed by her success. And I’m furious about that. I’m not someone who bashes other authors for their success, not usually, but there’s a difference between a book that is the best it can be despite its generic or questionable story and a book that literally isn’t edited.
So I’m on fiverr now. Lol. I’m really good at proofreading, I’m good with whatever weird-ass romance you want to give me, and I’ve set my price super-affordable so it’s not nearly so difficult to warrant if there aren’t too many mistakes. And if your manuscript is already in good enough shape, I’ll give you discounts on future edits. I don’t want anyone thinking they didn’t get their money’s worth because they paid $100 for 10 errors, so I’ll work with you to make it more reasonable.
And if that $100 for 10 errors sounds crazy, I know people who have paid closer to $1,000 for 10 errors.
And do I expect that author to hit me up? Nope. Because she just doesn’t care.