Disclaimer: Strong language and adult content to follow. Consider yourself warned.
Riddle me this – what the fuck is going on with epub/self-pub stories these days? With the majority of my recent acquisitions, the writing has turned me off within a few pages and left me worrying about the current, and future, standards for these publishing venues.
You don’t have to tell me it’s my decision to read these stories, I know that. It doesn’t mean I have to like the way they’re written. Sometimes, I can’t stop myself from reading them; oddly, I’m compelled by the horror of it all. I want to see how many times an author can make me roll my eyes or go, “Gimme a fuckin’ break!”. (I’ve actually kept track of this on a few different books ‘cus I’m weird like that.)
Nor does it mean that this practice of publishing shit and calling it a finished story should be acceptable. Frankly, I feel it gives writers who work hard a bad name. We should all be held to the same standards, regardless of how our stories are published.
Thousands of people want to write a story. A large number of them shouldn’t be writing. If you want to write a story for the love of it and/or because you hope that somebody else will love it as well, the end result will reflect that. The impression I’m getting from epubbed/self-pubbed books these days, is that their authors are trying to be the next big thing and are writing anything that comes into their heads. That’s not bad, BUT they publish the story without sending it to a beta or two, without any editing being done (or not enough editing), and then wonder why they get no sales and/or bad reviews. (That’s when I have to refrain from using shouty caps and saying, “Um, because you’re an asshat that doesn’t realize their shit sucks.”)
It’s not a big mystery people. You need to put time and effort into the story so it can be as good as possible. Then you need to send it out, let people trash the shit out of it, and then rework it to make it even better than it was before.
When we do revisions, we learn from the mistakes we made the first (or fiftieth) time. If you’re publishing without doing revisions, and thinking that you have written the best novel in the world and legions of fans will be falling at your feet and begging you to write more, you’re sadly mistaken. Mark my words, you will suffer from it. Don’t turn around and get all butthurt because people are giving you bad reviews. Writers need to be able to take criticism and learn from it where they can. If you’re not willing to do this, you’re never going to be a good writer.
That’s where–I hope–I can be of some assistance.
I’ve included some tips for writers who are considering publication of their work. Take the advice or don’t, it’s your choice.
Please note: Nobody wants to listen to (or read) your whiny ass complaining when you’re confused about why your story isn’t doing as well as you thought. When you don’t put the work into it that you should, that’s what happens.
Oh, and some of the following are probably going to be a personal preference of mine. Feel free to ignore everything I have to say if you wish to do so, I won’t be offended.
Good writing this does not make:
Scenario 1: Person A telling Person B “No”, Person B persists……. and then Person A is all “Give it to me baby!” a millisecond after saying no.
Scenario 2: Person A continuing to come toward/touch/penetrate Person B after they’ve said no…….repeatedly.
You see where I’m going with this? Characters playing hard to get are sexy. It builds anticipation and all that jazz, right? Right. What I don’t get is the complete 180 in no time at all. It’s even worse when there’s inner dialogue from a character about how he/she doesn’t want anything to happen; there’s not a single hint of attraction to the other person.
If the scene is written as a type of fearful excitement, I can understand. Person A is kind of nervous and worried, but at the same time ready to rip Person B’s clothes off. That’s what I want to read. Not something that makes me feel like Person A is being forced into an act or one where said person changes their mind for no apparent reason and in less time than it takes for a hummingbird to flap its wings. You expect me to swallow that and just move right along with the story? It’s not gonna happen.
Scenario 3: “Oh my stars and garters! I just met the sexiest man/woman alive and I’m totally in love with him/her and I’m going to die if I can’t be with him/her!”
Excuse me, I’m going to need you to move off the rug so you don’t ruin it with the love juices oozing from every orifice in your body. Please and thanks. Maybe I’m jaded, but shit like that doesn’t happen and it doesn’t appeal to me. Instant physical attraction, a strong need/desire to be around somebody and get to know them, even get downright dirty with them, these things I understand. I don’t get the whole “love at first sight” concept and I don’t enjoy it in my books.
Scenario 4: Perfect body (god-like good looks on a man OR woman), with a huge dick, and the best lover in the world where every single touch brings out an orgasm in the recipient.
The hell you say. Be realistic please. I’m bored with the image of a perfect body on a man or woman in any story, but especially Erotica and Romance. Yeah, yeah, god-like good looks sell because it’s the fantasy of every man/woman out there. Whatever. Personally, the “perfect” body image gives me the beginnings of The Ew…..trust me, it’s not good (The Ew is worse than the Ick Factor). Never an awkward moment during sexual encounters, both people getting off at the same time with the most amazing orgasm they’ve ever had in their lives……every time they have sex. Shoot me now please. It’s possible to create a story where people have sex/sexual interactions, and don’t have simultaneous mind-blowing orgasms. Crazy concept, I know.
Scenario 5: A line of dialogue, then a new paragraph with the same person doing an action, followed by more dialogue within that paragraph by said person.
“Hey, what’s up,” Hilbert says as he walks in the room.
He plants his flat ass on my couch. “This is the bullshit I’m talking about. Is this really the proper way to write dialogue in a story?”
I shake my head in shame, “No, Hilbert, it’s not.“
What–who–why, all I want to know is why.–Nevermind the shitty writing for a moment, you get the point.–I’m begging people to stop writing like this or I swear I’ll start burning books on the lawn. Easy rule to learn and follow boys and girls: A new paragraph in dialogue indicates another speaker.
Scenario 6: We’ve met, gone through –insert tragedy/comedy/whatever– together (or nothing at all), and now we’re going to live happily ever after and our children will be perfect and there will be sunshine and rainbows every day. I’m never going to want to stab him in the eye for not putting his dirty clothes in a basket and he’s never going to want to choke me because I snore too loud.
My ass. Unless you’re writing a fairy tale, this type of ending just doesn’t work for me (even then, I still don’t like it). Happy for now? That’s acceptable. Happily ever after when the characters haven’t spent more than a couple of nights together–if that–and are now going to live in bliss and never have a problem with anything the other one does? Unacceptable. Why? Because it’s not realistic. People aren’t perfect and even if you get along famously, you’re going to have some bumps in the road during your relationship.A bit of realism in stories is a good thing, regardless of genre.
**Note: the following is vital information that you must have and use for the sake of the sanity of your future readers**
Scenario 7: Referring to a character’s genitalia as “down there” or something equally juvenile.
*bangs head against wall* This one, obviously, is geared more toward Erotica and Romance stories. I’ll say it again because it bears repeating: for the sake of our sanity, please pay attention to and follow this piece of advice. Phrases like the one above make me think of teenage girls giggling behind their hands when they say the words penis or vagina. This is not cool people, not cool at all.–It sure as hell isn’t sexy.–If I wanted to read an erotic story written by a teenager, I would have gone looking for one. Oddly enough, and call me crazy for this, that’s not what I want. I want an erotic story written by an adult that doesn’t say “down there”, and instead says something at least resembling the word vagina. Hell, I’d be happier with a cheesy euphemism that’s been used a million times by bodice-ripping writers the world over. Example– “his throbbing member penetrates her love tunnel” and not “he plunges into her down there”.
There are exceptions to every rule up there (I suppose…….maybe), but please at least consider the fact that because you choose to publish in a non-traditional way, that doesn’t mean the story has to be trash. There are self-pubbed/e-pubbed writers out there that take the time to do everything necessary to create a good novel. They care deeply about what they’re doing. If you’re throwing some words together in hopes of being the “next big thing”, the fans you could’ve had will be nonexistent because your work won’t be of the quality it needs to attract readers.
Am I operating under the delusion that I’m a top-notch novelist? No. Do I think I don’t need to improve? Hell no. (You see how wordy this damn post is? -around 1900 words give or take- I know at least 10 people right off the top of my head that could say the same thing with a far lower word count. *stands up from chair* My name is Audra, I’m long-winded and use craptastic punctuation and grammar when I write.) Do I think you should listen to everything I say because, if you don’t, you won’t ever be published? Not a chance. You may or may not benefit from what I’ve said here, that’s up to you.
I know I need to work on several areas of my craft, and I’m ok with that. It takes a lot of work to be a successful writer and I’m more than willing to put in the time. I learn something new every day in regards to writing. I take what advice and lessons I feel are best for me and I apply them to my craft from that moment on. At least, I try to. Sometimes I forget things or fall back into old habits, but I take the time to fix the mistakes before I deem the work finished.
So tell me, darling followers (even though I don’t technically know you, you are darling to me), what’s your opinion on self-pubbed/epubbed work? How do you feel about writers who aren’t willing to perfect their craft?