Last night I selected a new book from the stack, the huge, twisty stack, twisty like the church steeple that was twisted by the Devil in Chesterfield, curvy as the beanstalk in the fairytale and, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, surprisingly sturdy. (In other words, I got a shit-ton of books all stacked up, waiting to be read.) As I always do, I flipped it over and read the back first, looking for a synopsis or possibly some critical reviews. No reviews, and the synopsis was replete with grammatical mistakes. No misspelled words, but several run-on sentences. I immediately put the book down, despite its intriguing premise. Unfair? Maybe or maybe not. But life is short, and there are so, so many books to be read. I will not waste my time on amateurish efforts.
A word of advice, then, to all independent writers. Independent is fine. Small press is fine. Self-published is fine. But if you are going to go that route, you’d better make sure you have a qualified editor, if you’re hoping to get your book reviewed on this or one of our sister sites. If I spot a lot of typos or grammatical errors early on, I won’t go any further.
Also, owing to the sheer number of materials I receive to review, I’ve found it necessary to charge a one-time fee of $25 for a book review. The book I attempted to read last night came in before the establishment of this new rule, but even if the author had paid it, I would withhold a review. Not to cheat him, but out of kindness. I am choosing not to badmouth his literary effort. Because if I AM going to do a review of your work, I’m going to be honest. I owe that to MY readers here. If your book isn’t any good, or is an obvious amateur effort, as much as I hate to do it (and I honestly do, knowing that it takes as much blood, sweat, and tears to write a lousy book as it does a good one), I’m going to say so. Or else take my momma’s advice and say nothing at all. Because sometimes I’m generous like that.