Each week, in addition to a question to answer, one of the previous week’s participants will be randomly selected for an interview (hence the Feature portion of the meme). This week’s featured blogger is Love, Literature, Art, and Reason.
Here’s this week’s question:
What is a deal breaker for you in a book? For example, do you abhor love triangles? Or can’t deal with bad editing?
This is one is easy peasy lemon squeey for shizzle. Continuous, thoughtless and murderous abuse of the English language. Period. Now, most books that are published in the traditional fashion will not have this problem. I have reviewed many self-published books, though, and there is, oftentimes, a complete and utter disregard for correct spelling, grammar and word usage.
I am the child of two teachers. My mom has beautiful penmanship, excellent spelling and has the rules of grammar tattooed on the inside of her eyelids. Or branded in that part of the brain where remembering takes place. Dad, on the other hand, didn’t worry so much about “i before e, except after c” or whether it was OK to dangle a participle like Michael Jackson’s baby over a balcony in Berlin. Guess which parent I more closely mimicked.
This is nails on the chalkboard for me. If it were a zombie, I would risk punching it in the face before I shot it through the head. Here’s the thing: most likely the offenders are typing on their computers, right? A place where all the answers in the world are located? All you have to do is type “how do you spell coincidence” (or something close to “coincidence”) or “correct usage there their” into the search engine of your choice (or “search engine it” as Sean Hayes said on Up All Night.) Magically (not really) YOUR ANSWER APPEARS. Just like (not really) a Magic 8 Ball (which I just searched without you knowing any different to see if it was Magic 8 Ball or Magic Eight Ball). Ermahgerd, simple.
My advice to those who think they can’t afford to hire an editor: you can’t afford not to. I know, that’s stupid advice if you have no money. Let me ask you this: why would you publish before you or your story is ready? Why would you throw your baby into a pit of ravenous wolves if your baby wasn’t equipped to defend itself? Are you publishing for the supposed fame, glory or money? You will be shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t do everything in your power to put out the best book that you can. You will have no fame, glory, money…or fans.
Here are some suggestions:
- Assemble a group of friends who know good grammar and have them read your book. Insist on complete honesty. They could even give you their suggestions anonymously. Their payment? A huge return favor from you and their names in your acknowledgments in the book.
- Go on Facebook where you have 732 friends and ask for current or former English majors who would be willing to read and review your manuscript. Payment: X number of free signed copies and mention in your page of thanks.
- Contact a local university or community college’s English department and see if either a professor or student can help. Payment: a coffeehouse or bookstore gift card and a grateful acknowledgment.
- Find a book club that will read and critique your book that month. Payment: Free copies of your book, testimonials galore, again, in your book.
Lastly, while it is super fun to turn words into verbs (like the above “search engine it”) or into adverbs (adding “ly” to a word) don’t do it either a) too often or b) at all. These can both be very effective ways of giving the reader a visual, but they don’t always work. Only use them if there is no other way to describe the action because otherwise they will raven the reader’s eyes peckingly.