Advice to new writers and pet peeves
I am not perfect. In fact, no writer is perfect. I was reading a Mary Kay Andrews novel not too long ago and found an annoying flub-up right at the end, but the book was still excellent and I may just read it again!
That being said I will begin...
I am what they call a self-taught writer. l would wager that most writers are. That is why we read, to make ourselves better writers.
In 2000 I took a "distance course" through Writer's Digest and finished it in two months. Though my mentor was pleased with my progress and said I was very good I was still BAD!
If I put a piece of my work from 2000 up against a piece of my work from 2010 you would be able to see what progress I have made. In fact, I may just do that, but not today.
When I was a new writer I had BIG dreams. I was 22 in 2000. I thought I would finish my book at 23, be published and be a bestseller. I am now on the fourth draft of that novel.
The truth of the matter is that writing a novel takes more than just a few months. It takes at least a year to write it and edit the hell out of it. For someone with little to no writing experience it should take longer.
I think this is where a lot of the writers on PA and Lulu.com (of which I am one) have gone wrong.
Before I begin let me say that I applaud their bravery. It takes a lot of courage to write a story out on paper. I know several people who come up with great ideas, but when they sit down to put them on paper (or the computer) their creativity fades and they begin to doubt themselves. So any PA author who may be reading this and hating me please know that I mean no disrespect. You are courageous and that is the beginnings of a GREAT writer.
What bugs me about SOME of the books I have come across on PA are the vague passages that are supposed to tell the potential reader what the book is about.
The purpose of this "blurb" is to bait the reader, entice them, make them WANT to read your book. I am going to give you two examples. One is only slightly confusing, while the other is utterly confusing. You decide which is which.
**Note: I haven't read either of these books. I do not know the merit of writing held within the pages.**
You tell me. Would you know what was happening in this book?:
"Greyson had thought Linda was his true love until he overheard her talking on the phone one afternoon. She was telling someone else how much she loved him. Greyson was devastated. All the while she had been making plans to marry Greyson, she had been keeping another man on the side. If he hadn't come back to his house early that day he would never have known. He was planning to surprise Linda with plane tickets to the Bahamas for a surprise getaway. He was even considering asking her to marry him while they were on vacation. Since they had become engaged Greyson had been eager to seal the deal on their commitment. He had loved her so much that he really didn't want to wait to plan a big wedding. If she'd wanted that, they would have just gotten married again later, but as far as he was concerned a big wedding wasn’t necessary."
Title: Love Wins
Author: Cynthia Wood
We know that Greyson loves Linda. We know that he caught her professing her love to someone else. Beyond that this blurb feels like an endless ramble. What will happen? There is no teaser. There is nothing within this paragraph that makes me want to pay $15.00 plus S&H for this book. That is not to say it is a badly written book, only a poorly written blurb.
Now, what is happening here?:
"When Ethan Thompson arrives on the scene, he is totally unprepared for what he finds. Rhiannon, the beautiful, almost angelic-looking young woman, looked as though red paint had been spattered across her middle. Ethan, later having learned that Rhiannon’s attacker had actually been her jealous ex-husband, decides to make it his ultimate goal to bring the attempted murderer to justice. Meanwhile he is falling in love with this woman once again from a past of over 3,000 years before. This passionate, gripping, over-the-edge, ancient love triangle is sure to leave you speechless."
Title: Mirrored Souls of Osiris
Author: Kimberlei Paige
A blurb about your book can be the hardest thing to write next to a query letter. In fact, you can treat the back cover of your book like a query letter. You're selling to the customer. The drawback to a self-publishing author is that we don't have someone there to say, "This really doesn't work. How about this?"
Instead we, the novice writers, are left to stew in our own thoughts. How do I do this? What do I say? How can I word this? With no one there to help us out.
I should be understanding. I know. I shouldn't go on PA and think to myself "Oh my goodness, why didn't someone stop this!", but I do. I myself have problems with blurbs and query letters, but the peeve here is that on many books I have come across on publishamerica.com and lulu.com
there seems to have been little or no editing. It's as if the writer jotted down a few lines and that was that.
Writing takes TIME.
Writing takes PATIENCE.
Writing takes COURAGE
Writing takes SUPPORT.
You need to enlist a trusted friend who loves to read. Ask them to read your manuscript for you. Not for an opinion, mind you (because that makes people uncomfortable), but for grammar and continuity. The PA book I borrowed from the library had so many continuity errors it was hard to stay focused!
When they've finished going over it, YOU need to go back over it!
DO NOT DEPEND ON SPELL CHECKER!
On the PA boards I noticed a post where the authors were talking about errors. Instead of saying they should take better care they said that the READER should OVERLOOK the spelling and enjoy the story. I am sorry, but if you are a WRITER then you should be able toSPELL! Do not expect ME, YOUR READER, to pick up YOUR slack!
TIME, PATIENCE, COURAGE and SUPPORT
It takes TIME to improve your writing style and edit your work.
It takes PATIENCE preparing your work.
It takes COURAGE to send submit your work, to receive rejection letters, and to continue submitting your work.
And it takes SUPPORT from your family and friends when your receive those rejection letters to keep you writing and to keep your courage up.
When you do not take the time to produce the finest piece of literature you can it is a slap in the face for every member of your support team, not to mention an insult to the people that you want to buy YOUR book!