Thursday, May 9, 2013

Quality Control for Indie Authors

I've read some bad ebooks.

I never post reviews for them, just because I don't want to hurt some poor struggling author's feelings. I admire anyone who puts themselves out there, you know. Sometimes, I email the author with notes for improving the book, but other times I just don't post anything. I've had folks send me novels to review who are probably scratching their heads.

However, my policy on this is probably going to change, because I just can't stand how badly written ebooks reflect on all ebooks. It's not something that only makes the author of the flawed book look bad. It makes all self-publishers look bad. How can I expect readers to wade through the bad to find the good, when I myself can't seem to do it? It's frustrating, because the best thing for ebooks sales is word of mouth, but you don't get word of mouth until a certain number of people read your book, and a lot of people are just avoiding self-published books because they think 90% of them are crap, and they're right.

I've been talking about this on one of the groups I belong to on Goodreads. It really surprised me when several fellow members posted answers to my initial post saying that they don't see what the big deal about good grammar is, and that some readers/reviewers suddenly think that they are "English teachers" as soon as they pick up an indie book, and that there are too many grammar Nazis. What this tells me is that these authors don't care if their books have major grammatical and stylistic flaws. The fact that they view people who care about grammar as "Nazis" and, worse, "English teachers"... well. I say, if an English teacher reads one of my novels and thinks it's good, then I've really done a great job. And I want that. I want my books to be that good.

There are a few folks on GR who are talking about putting together some sort of consortium of authors/readers/reviewers who would evaluate books for their writing quality (not in terms of content, but in terms of grammar etc.). I may participate in that. I'll keep you posted.

How about you? Do you care about grammar and style when you read a book, or does story just trump everything else? What sorts of things make you pause when you're reading (not in a good way)? If a consortium formed to evaluate books on their writing quality, would their seal of approval make a difference to you?


  1. Hi, Sophia. I totally agree with you. I have been reading indie books these past couple of years almost exclusively. There are some great books out there that just need a bit of help to get discovered. However, when they are surrounded by bad ones, it just makes it that much harder for them to be noticed. I find I can ignore one or two things in a book, but after that, it doesn't matter how well designed the characters are or how imaginative the plot, the whole thing just fails.
    Thanks for sharing, and have a great weekend!


  2. Hi James!
    Exactly. I am the same way. I can usually let go about four errors, before my internal editor switches on. Then, it's like a count down. At about another three errors I can't do it anymore.

    I guess this isn't the way everyone feels about it, though. The fact that I *was* an English teacher for a while probably factors in.

    Thanks for commenting! ;)