Goodness knows I have read my share of badly written books over the last three years. There is no way to describe the agony of seeing a perfectly good novel devoured by excessive descriptions and overblown characters whose moves and emotions are described to the last detail.
So I don’t.
Right now, there is this sort of Karaoke Culture going in regard to writing genre-novels. It’s an “anything you can do, I can do better” sort of philosophy, and while it’s not necessarily terrible, it’s flooding the market with less than stellar works by people who really only have one book in them, and not a great one at that. At some point, this flood of indies will peak and then level out and those who are in it for the long haul will gain better visibility.
In actuality, every indie author is a Karaoke Star–at first we begin as amateurs who dream big, standing up in front of a crowd and putting our talents (or lack thereof) on the line. We find out that the more you drink, the better we sound, and when you applaud our efforts, it only encourages us.
Regardless of how badly written a book is, the author had passion for it, and just like the guy who mutilated “Billie Jean” with all his drunken heart in the Karaoke Bar the other night, the author did their best against huge odds.
I have some hard-earned advice for new authors, those of you who want to leave the ranks of the Karaoke novelists. If you are really serious about your work, get your work professionally edited. Yes, it will cost you, but that experience will enable you to put a book out there that you can be proud of, one that will stand up to any put out by the big publishers.
You might wonder what prompted this little rant–I have just spent the week looking through five reasonably priced, beautifully covered indie books–only to discover they were poorly formatted, rife with newbie errors–beginning the book with a big info dump (been there done that)–thick, lush descriptions of “creamy blue eyes” (pardon, must barf now)–and threads to nowhere, obviously intended to entice the reader to get the sequel, which is now on my “No way in hell” list. My response? “If you went to the trouble to find expensive art for the cover, you could have had the freaking mess professionally edited. Don’t tell me your friends edited it for you, because the way it looks now, your best chums aren’t doing you any favors.”
Indies–aren’t you glad I only review the books I like? I don’t want to be known for being a bitch, which is what I feel like when I read some of these travesties. You see–I have been there. I started out that way and I didn’t get it either. But experience is a real teacher, and more than anything, I love this craft, and want to be the best I can be at it, whether I sell a book or not.
Thus, after grousing and yelling for two days this week, I decided to reread an old favorite, and will be blogging on my review blog about a book that was published in 1997. I have read it twice, and each time I am swept away by it. Tomorrow, I will be talking about it on Best in Fantasy. My posts go up by 8:00 in the morning US west coast Pacific time. If you are curious as to what book I am talking about, stop by tomorrow!
Review of “Fall of Angels” by L.E. Modesitt Jr.