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Has the Bar Been Lowered? Why are Indie Published Books Less-Than-Great Lately?

Has the Bar Been Lowered?  Why are Indie Published Books Less-Than-Great Lately?

Image courtesy of Inmagine.com

I’ve been happily reviewing books for well over a year now, and I do it on my own accord, without any compensation whatsoever.

 

In the beginning I would review any book I enjoyed reading; whether it was a best selling author or an independently published author, established or brand new to the industry.

 

This past summer, however, I started reviewing strictly indie authors, simply to help them out and to gain more perspective in the indie world.  In a nutshell, as an indie author myself, I have found book reviewing to be a very positive experience, and it has helped my writing career a lot.

 

What’s disappointing is the amount of less-than-great independently published books that I’ve stumbled upon recently.

 

Here is a short list of the issues I’ve seen:

 

-Grammatical/spelling

-lack dialogue

-too much back story

-not enough action

-un-relatable characters and/or story line

 

When I read these less-than-great stories, I feel like rather than reviewing them, I need to provide a beta read and an editAre indie authors neglecting to take these vital steps?

 

Beta reading is so important and a necessary step to ensure that your book flows well.

 

If you do not have a beta reader, it is quite simple to find one.  You can either join the LinkedIn sub-group beta readers, upload your book on Harper Collins’s Authonomy, or simply send a shout out to your audience using either Twitter or Facebook.  If you’re really stuck, I can also make a recommendation or two.

 

I cannot stress how important it is to all authors to get at least one good perspective on your book before self-publishing it.

 

I would suggest at least two; one male, one female.

 

Getting a friend or family member to read your story simply won’t cut it.  You need someone who isn’t afraid to be critical.  Also, you need to be able to accept criticism and delete scenes, make changes in your story line or change facts.  I can’t tell you how much better my books have turned out after being beta read and edited.

 

It’s a lot of work, but trust me, if you’ve already done the work creating a manuscript, you shouldn’t be afraid of more.

 

If your book has been thoroughly beta read and properly edited and you would like me to read it and review it, please contact me at rsappleyard@hotmail.com.  I read many genres and will have a look at your book info to see if it interests me before agreeing to read it.

 

 

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August 27th, 2013 at 5:33 am

Will a professional editor who does a developmental edit count as a beta reader or should I find beta readers in addition to?

August 27th, 2013 at 11:21 am

benlanehodson I strongly feel beta reading is essential and should be considered separate from editing.  Some beta readers do both, but I believe at least one beta reader is in order.  So even if your editor considers his/her work a beta read as well, you should still get another set of eyes on your work.  I hope that helps :)

August 27th, 2013 at 1:59 pm

SandyAppleyard benlanehodson That makes sense. I’ll be on the look out for a couple of good beta readers that will give me unbiased feedback. Thanks!

August 27th, 2013 at 2:03 pm

benlanehodson SandyAppleyard If you need any help finding beta readers please let me know.  Thanks for your comments!

Christine KelenyCraven
August 27th, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I do the same, Sandy, and I would agree with you. People need to take the time to let others read their books and get honest feedback then and only then send it to an editor – whether you want developmental editing or line/copy editing. Beta readers come first.

August 27th, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Christine KelenyCraven Interesting. So you recommend getting the book into beta reader’s hands before it has even been edited yet? 
At that point in the process, are you looking for more feedback about the story (how it grips them, if they were emotionally involved) or grammar (unclear sentences) or both?
What kind of feedback should I expect from a good beta reader?

Christine KelenyCraven
August 27th, 2013 at 3:48 pm

benlanehodson Christine KelenyCraven  I think it depends on what you know about your reader. – what are their strengths or interests. They aren’t getting paid, after all. If you don’t know  this, ask. I mostly ask my beta readers about the story itself – does it flow, does it make sense, where were the slow parts, what was missing… I might say, if you see a misspelled word or some other grammatical error, note it if you want but usually I leave that for an editor. Really depends on what you think you need most. Or you can ask different people to look for different things.
Good luck to you, Ben.

August 27th, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Christine KelenyCraven Exactly Christine.  Beta readers would pick up on things like timing, etc.  In one of my books, my beta reader felt there wasn’t enough time elapsed in a scene from the moment the evidence was submitted to forensics, until when the results were available.  Things like that, important things, that are the difference between making a story believable or not.

August 27th, 2013 at 4:48 pm

benlanehodson Christine KelenyCraven Absolutely.  You need to have all your silverware out on the table, exactly as you want them presented, before polishing them.  Sorry for the cheezy metaphor :)

Christine KelenyCraven
August 27th, 2013 at 5:55 pm

SandyAppleyard Christine KelenyCraven And different people may tell you different things or conflicting things, then you, as a writer, have to decide. I don’t automatically change something because someone who read it told me to. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy!

August 27th, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Christine KelenyCraven SandyAppleyard Agreed Christine!  That’s why I like at least two different opinions.  That saved the ending on the manuscript I just finished!

August 27th, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Christine KelenyCraven Thank you for all the advice. Based on the thoughts here, I plan to first do as much editing as I can on my own. Then get a few beta readers to go through it and give feedback. Incorporate their suggestions in and then finally hand it to a professional editor to do a full developmental and copy edit.

Virginia Green
August 29th, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Hi all,
I belong to a writer’s group that meets twice a month.  We read each others work and give feed back.  I also have given my draft to family members that I know will be candid in their reviews  They have been helpful.  With my Children’s Book, I took the draft to the students at two elementary schools for editing and feedback.  These students were members of a gifted class just  slightly older than the age group the story targeted.  It was amazing to read their comments and suggestions (several that I put in the final copy).  This also gave these students a learning assignment as part of their English lessons.  All were helpful in bringing my published book to fruition.
Thank you for your interesting comments.
Virginia Green

August 29th, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Virginia Green That is a very innovative idea, Virginia!  If only all of us had our target audience at our fingertips!  :)

Virginia Green
August 29th, 2013 at 5:14 pm

SandyAppleyard Virginia Green

Virginia Green
August 29th, 2013 at 5:18 pm

SandyAppleyard Virginia Green 
I agree Sandy.  Sometimes if  we search for that audience we may find it not that far away. We have to go to them rather than wait for them to come to us. I guess they call it being proactive. ;D

LibertadAraceliThomas
August 31st, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Great post!

Robynn Gabel
September 3rd, 2013 at 4:08 am

I couldn’t agree more with this most. Well said. I’ve found the same problem but now will pass on this suggestion in private to the author. Thank you.

Robynn Gabel
September 3rd, 2013 at 4:10 am

I totally agree with you. Excellent post.  It is frustrating as I’m an avid reader and like to leave reviews when I find a good story. I think I will suggest your idea in private to the authors as well as taking heed of it myself.  Thank you.

September 11th, 2013 at 9:14 pm

“You can either join the LinkedIn sub-group  …”
I didn’t realize that there was such a group. I just sent a join request.
Regarding family members as beta readers: My husband is always my first, and he’s not afraid to offer helpful criticism. Needless to say, he’s a keeper.

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