Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Perhaps you'd like to borrow my eyes, dear self-published author?

It's been a while since I let off some steam about self-published books or their authors, but a repeated argument, thrown in my way on a regular basis, had me clichedly roll my eyes again. I've not made a secret about my opinion on the quality of most self-published books; in fact, I'm rather vocal about my negative experiences. Experiences that led to my giving up on them entirely. Last time I checked, it was my right to make an informed, or even uninformed if I wanted to, decision. Apparently I'm not allowed to make it public, though. No, wait! I am, but by doing so, I'm a hypocrite, because ... drum roll, please ... I'm a self-published author myself. Oh, the shock!
And, of course, it's mostly self-published authors who come to fight me and my, in their eyes, rather strange complaint. The problem is: they can't read. To them it appears I'm thinking all self-published books are shite. I never said that; only most of those books I've read.
Were I 'only' a reader, people would say, 'Shame you've made such bad experiences.' Nobody would go and argue with them, but because I've books published, people find it necessary to question my abilities as a writer. Well, I hate it if the dialogue is not punctuated correctly; I lose my patience when there's no flow in the writing, too many repetitions, or when writers maltreat the poor apostrophe. I can't stand it when characters suddenly act like no normal human being would act. At least not without any explanation. And it's well known, that implausible story lines are my biggest pet hate. And because I hate it all so much, I will do the same mistakes when writing my books. Not! The very fact that I notice these things enables me to do it better. That's why writing pained me so much, I had to step away from it for a while. I'm a perfectionist and most of my first drafts were basically ready to be copy-edited or even ready to be proofed. Candlelight Sinner, for instance, is a first draft, only corrected for language issues and a few minor inconsistencies. Same goes for the thriller. I spend up to eight months writing a first draft, but it doesn't need much editing after that. While writing, I constantly question myself. Would I be annoyed reading it? Would I believe it? Every scene is carefully weighed; does it live up to my standards? If yes, it stays, if not, I'll rewrite it until it works. Authors keep flippantly asking me if I think my books are better. Well, in those areas that cause me to hit the delete button, I'm afraid to say, yes, they are better. Are my books more exciting? Seems not, otherwise I'd be sitting in my wonderful loft above the reptile rescue centre.
What I find worrying is that I see so many authors recommend each other's books with the words, I loved this--amongst them, those who think I'm an arrogant twat. When I peek at some of the recommendations, I find most of them having the faults I'm banging on about: the lack of basic writing skills and my guess is that the author, who recommended said book, doesn't know better either. If I don't know that Tiramisu is supposed to be made with Mascarpone, I'd probably happily dig into the dessert made with custard.
So, dear self-published authors, maybe, if you knew more about writing, just maybe, you'd give up on self-published books, too.

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