So between being a judge for contests and the sudden urge I had to give in to Amazon’s requests for me to try Kindle Unlimited, I’ve been reading a lot. I’ve decided that judging contests and reading Kindle Unlimited books is more alike than you’d think. Not everything you get to read is worthwhile.
Of course, this is true of just browsing for a book anyway. You never know what you’re going to get unless you’re reading a tried and true favorite author. There’s just a lot of stuff out there from self-published authors and small barely known presses that is poorly written then poorly edited. The frightening thing is the number of 4 and 5 star reviews some of these books have and the fan gushing I’ve seen in the reviews.
Here’s what happened to me. I got a few books to judge for a contest. Some self-pubbed, some pubbed by little presses I’ve never heard of. One book in particular, by an author with an established fan base, had a story line that I’ve read before. Unfortunately for this author, the book I’d read before was written far better, edited far better and had much more believable characters. In short, this author took a known trope, butchered it, and didn’t hire an editor before tossing it out as a self-published book and entering it in a contest. Ouch. I couldn’t in all fairness give it a good grade. Luckily for me, the other stuff I read for the contest was better and I forgot all about the bad one. Well, until I got Kindle Unlimited.
So if you’ve never used Kindle Unlimited, it works sort of like a library. You can “borrow” up to 10 books at a time. If you really like and want to keep it, you’ll have to buy it. I figured for 30 days I’d give it whirl since I’ve no money to buy books right now. The problem with KU is that I ran out of good MM authors to read in a couple of days. I looked at a lot of reviews of authors I’ve never read, never heard of. Most of them are self-pubbed or with small presses I’ve never heard of. Sounds a lot like some of the books from the contest, right? Unfortunately, oh so right.
I started with books that had a lot of 5 star reviews. Fans of the authors gushed. The story lines revealed in the reviews sounded like they might be worth the read. As I read…and read…and read…I discovered a disturbing trend. Some of these books and series had really good story lines but the execution – the writing and editing – left a lot to be desired. It’s really hard for me to enjoy a book when I’m rewriting it and editing it in my head. Go figure. All I find myself wanting to do is write an email to the author and offer myself up as editor to fix the book since the stories had so much potential!
As an example, take a book that’s first in a series. It had an interesting premise, the kind of MM trope I like, and the characters were engaging as was the dialogue. But just in this one book alone I found this:
She saddled up to him. Ahem, the word is sidled.
She had tract marks. Ouch. Track marks is the correct phrase.
They had to burry something. The word is bury…no clue what a burry is.
He expanded his energy. OMG. It took me a minute to realize the author meant expended. If this had been a sci-fi I might never have got that the word was wrong. 😉
He had deep seeded emotions. This one made me laugh. Deep seated is how it should have read.
He hoped he didn’t wonder off. Wander. How can you mix up wonder and wander?
Those are not the exact sentences because I really don’t want to give away the book and seemingly bash the author. She obviously had some major vocabulary issues. On top of that her main character did something I don’t think I’ve seen a person do. “His breath heaved and his eyes pinched.” I didn’t know that eyes had appendages with which to pinch.
I’m not really bagging on the author. I read this with seriously deep sighs because I liked her story and I liked her characters and her snarky dialogue. I didn’t like the fact that no one edited this book. Well, maybe someone did, but if so, they had no clue what they were doing.
This stuff makes me sad. What makes me even sadder is the reading public that can’t see the things that are wrong with these stories. They don’t have enough knowledge themselves to actually call it like it is and give it 3 stars for a great story but really bad grammar, writing, and editing issues. Maybe if some of these authors knew they had a problem, they’d hire better editors. The vocabulary issues alone in that one book were just awful. My kid could have picked out the wrong words when she was in grade school. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the state of our school systems today that we’re turning out kids who become adults who don’t know the difference between tract and track, wonder and wander.
In the end, my Kindle Unlimited run has left me so disappointed although I guess I got what I paid for since the 30 day trial was free.
Hope you all have a happier reading experience this week!