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Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Musings - Quality

I have been reading more lately than I have in years. I attribute that to my iPad because I love reading books on it and I can also quench my thirst for instant gratification by downloading books instead of going to a brick-and-mortar store or waiting for it to arrive in the mail.

But what I've discovered, especially with the proliferation of self-published authors and small, indie presses, is there is an increasing gap between the high quality books and those that perhaps should not have been published at all.

I am reading a book now; I won't mention the name or the author because I don't believe in spreading bad reviews that could harm another author's career. It has a great premise - a time travel book into ancient Scotland, an historical backdrop and era that fascinates me.

I've noticed two on-going problems. One involves punctuation: missing periods at the end of sentences, missing or inappropriate quotation marks, commas hanging in the middle of nowhere. All of these could easily have been fixed with a good editor.

The second is a beginner's set of mistakes - repeating one word or one theme very often, as if the writer is afraid the reader is going to forget from one paragraph to the next. It isn't unusual for a writer to spend weeks, months or sometimes years writing a book. But they should remember that a reader might read the entire book in a matter of hours, so it isn't necessary to constantly remind them of what they read one or two paragraphs back. This problem could easily have been identified through a good critique service or content editor.

In today's competitive market, it is increasingly more important for an author to get independent sources (family doesn't count) to help them hone their craft before submitting it to a publisher. Though the largest publishers still provide editorial support (though that is even dwindling) the small to mid-size publishers often do not, and self-published authors are entirely responsible for their book's presentation.