I recently picked up a book that I was really excited about. The premise was new to me, and the cover was stunning. The five-star reviews on Amazon helped a bit too. So I nestled down with my E-reader and delved into this wonderfully imagined tale.
***My bubble soon popped***
The idea of this story was great… elves live among us. They look just like us, only a little shorter, and they are all quite beautiful. The story is about an elf girl who is predestined to marry a particular elf, but they cannot meet until her eighteenth birthday. (Of course that gets screwed up or there wouldn’t be a story.) There is also this great buildup of a huge battle between dark and light elves.
(In respect to the author, I am not going to reveal the title or author. No one likes a bad review. And everyone should form their own opinion.)
The story sounded so exciting, but as I read, I had to wonder where all these five-star reviews came from. Has the influx of bad novels stilted people’s reading so much that they would consider an average novel to be extraordinary?
I found tons of things wrong with this novel. Long, unnecessary conversations with friends that have nothing to do with the story, several typos in the first few pages. (missing words) Scenes that seemed placed into the text just for page count that had nothing to do with the story, and so on.
But I delved on. I figured all these stars had to come from somewhere. So I started to skim, and skim, and skim. Then all of the sudden, the hero (future husband) pops up and gets jealous of a drunk guy hitting on his future bride (who he has not even officially met yet)…
AND HE KILLS THE DUDE!!!!!
Yeah… cold blooded murder. And then there is a conversation with his Dad about how it really didn’t even bother him to have killed someone.
I sooooooo don’t like this guy anymore. And I should like him, because the main character loves him. Right? (Or am I an old fogey and it is okay these days to have a murderer for a fiancée?)
I was resolved to see how the author would write her way out of that one… but she never did.
At the end, when I reached the big battle, I stopped skimming, but continued to be dissatisfied.
When I was done I shook my head. How was this possible? Why did I dislike this book so much when the premise seemed so good?
I looked back and checked to see who published it. Yes, there was a publisher listed, so I looked up their website. Guess what? No website.
[[Smacks herself in the head]]
Yep, I was duped. This appears to be a self-published book with a fake publisher name to hide behind. And the author did a great job… good marketing and a gorgeous cover. I think they paid more attention to the cover and marketing than writing and editing.
Now… I am in no way shape or form saying that there is anything wrong with self-publishing. There are some great self-published books out there. I think I gave a four star review to Sweet Blood of Mine. It deserved it.
I know that many self-published authors paid their dues, learned their craft, and produced great works of art. The problem is, these people are getting swallowed by the influx of people producing skim-worthy… or just plain HORRIBLE books.
I don’t even know what my point is. I guess I would not have been so bothered if there weren’t something like 250 five-star reviews on this work.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have never edited your manuscript, or had a beta reader other than your mother, or if you did have a few real beta-readers, and you ignored their shouts of “Show Verses Tell” or their requests to delete a scene, or NOT HAVE YOUR LOVE INTEREST KILL SOMEONE. (Yeah, that part really bothered me)
Anyway… If any of the things above apply, but you went out to query anyway, and your received rejections, you may not want to take the easy way out and self-publish. Maybe you should really look at your writing, and try to figure out WHY you are getting rejections.
This book could have been AWESOME. The writer just needed a heavy line edit, and a proofreader. A good developmental editor could have made this sucker EPIC. I mean seriously, this book could have been stupendous!
Was it that bad?
Well, no, but the work reads like little or no attention was given to make this story sparkle.
Yes, self-publishing may give you personal satisfaction. Yes, most of your friends will not know the difference and they will be excited for you… but all these books out there make it really hard to find a good novel these days. And with all those five-star reviews on this one particular book, I have to wonder if readers, in general, are losing their capacity to even notice a well crafted book when they read it.
It makes me sad.
Then again, maybe what a “good book” is has changed. Maybe I’m the one who needs to catch up with the times.