Tag Archives: Books

If you are skimming a book, why even read it? What the ease of self-publishing has done to the “great” novel

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.

swish swivel squiggle

***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.

Say_What

Whaaaat?

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.

Jennifer___Eaton

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Keep it to yourself, jerk! — Rule #28 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

Writing_A_Great_Novel

I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #28

28: If an opinion expressed through dialogue makes your POV character look like a jerk, allow him to think it rather than say it. He’ll express the same opinion, but seem like a lot less of a jerk.

Hmm.  Depending on how this is used, he can still look like a jerk just thinking about it.

I’d like to expound on this and say be careful of making your main character unlikable. Period. I’m reading a novel for crit right now in which I really can’t stand the MC, and she has no concrete reason for doing the dumb things she does.  If I had picked up this novel in a bookstore, I would have put it back by now.

The author said “It’s good that you don’t like her. I’m doing my job.”

This author just doesn’t get it, and is waiting with bated breath for rejection #215 on her queries.

You need to connect with the main character.  No one is going to want to read about a character they do not care about.  They can be a jerk, but you have to make them relatable, and your reader has to care.

If you don’t have that engagement with your reader, you don’t have an audience.

Jennifer___Eaton

Cut your weakest player — Rule #26 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

Writing_A_Great_Novel

I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #26

26: When you finish your book, pinpoint the weakest scene. Cut it. If necessary, replace it with a sentence or paragraph.

I have contradicting views on this.  If I was reading this with my first novel (that I pantsed) in my hands, I’d say “yes”… and to probably more than one scene.  However, now that I am outlining and clearly plotting my novels, I’m not so sure this is true.

I’d agree to cut it is it has no conflict, or does not draw the story forward. That’s a given.

My fear is that if everyone follows this rule, they will take out important scenes, and replace them with three sentences of summary… which is a form of tell.

I’m going to put my foot down and NOT agree with this one.

What do you think?

Jennifer___Eaton

Don’t Dump on Me! Rule #17 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

Writing_A_Great_Novel

I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #17

17: When writing a novel, start with your characters in action. Fill in any necessary backstory as you go along.

Everyone PLeeeeeese read that again.

Yes, I am an admitted action junkie, but I’m not asking you to explode something on your first page (although I have been guilty of doing this)

Buuuuuttt…  Your character should be doing SOMETHING when the story starts out… and even at the start of a chapter.  You need to grab your reader right from the first line.  That’s hard to do when nothing is happening, right?

Make it fast, make it clear, and grab your reader.  Make them want to read on.  You only have a page to make an impression.  Make it a good one.

Jennifer___Eaton

Related articles

The Little Blue Lady from Mars – Day After

Free_Fridays!

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Yawn.

[Stretch]

Jennifer13There you are.

Where have you been?

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Sleeping.

I’m tired.

Jennifer13Tired?

From what?

.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Do you have to ask?

Planning to take over the world, of course!

What have you been doing?

Jennifer13I started my new book, Optimal Red.

Oh, and I signed a contract

for Paper Wishes.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387You need to get out more.

I mean, seriously,

you need a hobby.

Jennifer13Like what?

Taking over the world?

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Yes!!!!! That’s the best hobby ever! 

And then we can have tea and crumpets and make totalitarian plans!

Jennifer13Umm,

How about we just do an interview first.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Piff. You are just not fun.

But I guess I have no choice.  Who’s here today?

Jennifer13Emi Gayle.

You’re gonna be nice, right?

PKO_Alien 3 0003387What’s that supposed to mean?

I’m always nice.

Jennifer13Umm—

Yeah whatever.

Hello Emi!

Hello!

Do you know there is a little blue lady on your table?

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Who are you calling little?

How dare you waltz your tallness in here and…

Jennifer13So, Emi,

I hear you have a new book out this week.

What’s it called?

Yes I do!

It’s called Day After and it came out just this Monday.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Piff! 

I bet it’s a tall book about tall people who…

Jennifer13So, Emi, I know this is book two of a series.  How hard is it to know that you’ve gotten it just right, and book two is good enough to follow book one?

An author never thinks her book is good enough, but sometimes, it’s time to let go and let the public have the story. I love the story, I love Mac and Winn, so now it’s time to share what’s been in my head.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Lame Response! Sounds like one of those lovey-dovey books.

Why would anyone want to read it?

Because it has a hot guy on the cover. Or a nerdy one.

Either way, *I* think he’s hot.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Well, I’ll give you kudos that he at least has a head.

I hate novels with headless men.

What?

.

Jennifer13Don’t ask.

.

.

Okay…

.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387I’ll be deciding if it is okay or mot MISSY.

Does anything explode?

Only my head when someone compliments my book.

.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387[turns to Jennifer]

She has an exploding-reappearing head?

.

CJennifer13ould be.  You never know.

I have an alien on my table doing author interviews.

You never know what the stink is going to happen on this blog.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Hmm. 

Okay Missy too-tall with an exploding head.

Tell me what this book is about.

I’m going to give you the blurb because honestly, it’s the best way to describe Winn’s side of things …

Demon crypts. Vampire lairs. Glowing angels. Sexy sirens. The stuff of fiction.

Or so Winn Thomas always thought. Since being accepted into the fold of the supernatural, he knows better. None of what he imagined is true, but everything he feared is, and binding himself to his Changeling girlfriend until her nineteenth birthday will give him an education far beyond what he’d get at his human high school.

Luckily, Winn’s not giving up, he won’t back down, and he definitely isn’t going to run away with his tail between his legs. After all, only werewolves have tails. Right? In this, the second of the 19th Year trilogy, Winn’s facing the challenge of one lifetime. If he doesn’t learn the truth about mythological creatures, his girlfriend Mac Thorne won’t either. That means, in six months, when she chooses her final form, she won’t know what to pick. Winn, though, has his own ideas about Mac’s final selection—plans she knows nothing of. He intends to have her pick human.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Hmmmm.

.

Well?

What do you think?

PKO_Alien 3 0003387I think I’m angry,

Because I actually want to read this.

You do?

Yesssssss!

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Miss Too Tall and Exploding. 

Let’s be real.  Has your head actually ever exploded?

Well, no

But…

PKO_Alien 3 0003387I thought Not.

Have you even ever tried to explode anything?

No.

That sounds dangerous, I…

PKO_Alien 1 0003414Silence,

Too Tall!

Have you ever tried to take over the world?

Did she just get bigger?

.

Jennifer13Yes. 

Answer quick!

She’s getting mad!

Umm… ummmm… Yes! I have already taken over the world. Don’t you know that?

This is actually my interview and you’re just my pawn.

PKO_Alien 3 0003387Whaaat?

.

Ha!

Gotcha!

.

Alien PKO_0003428Gotcha? 

Gotcha?

I’ll show you Miss Smarty Pants!

Wait a minute.

Is that a ray gun?

.

Jennifer13Emi quick! 

Get under the table!

PKO_Alien 2 0003417ZAAAAAAAAAAAAP

Ha Ha! No more Too Tall Lady’s book!

[Dances away merrily]

My Book!

She blew up my book!

.

Jennifer13Errr, yeah, that happens sometimes.

Did you remember to bring an extra?

I didn’t know I was supposed to bring an extra.

[Picks particles of half-disintegrated paper from her hair]

.

Jennifer13That stinks, because Day After sounds awesome.

I’d love to read it.

Shoot I wanted to give away a copy!

Well, there is still a Raffle Copter.

.

Jennifer13Oh great!  Can I sign up to win a copy there?

[brushes some book dust off Emi’s shoulder]

Sure.

Here is the link.

.

Jennifer13Great!  Here you go everyone.  To sign up to win a free copy of Day After by Emi Gayle, click on over to Rafflecopter to win

She’s… errr,

not coming back,

is she?

Jennifer13Luckily, not for a few more weeks.

We’re safe for now.

Since I don’t have a copy to give away here,

You guys can also leave a comment on my website for a chance to win.

Jennifer13Awesome! 

Thanks for coming, and I’m sorry about your book.

[picks up remains of charred cover]

It’s been an interesting experience.

.

If you’d like to learn more about Emi Gayle and her books, click on over to http://www.emigayle.com

Alien Zig ZagAlien Zig Zag*The Little Blue Lady from Mars Copyright Jennifer M. Eaton

Yay! The big Announcement for Paper Wishes!

Yay1!

I am super-excited to announce that I have signed a contract with Astraea Press for “Paper Wishes”!

Paper Wishes is the Re-envisioning of “Jack and Jill, Volume One”, which went out of print about a month ago due to Still Moments being purchased by another publisher.

We’ve started new edits, and “Paper Wishes” will be bigger, brighter, and cleaner than ever!

I am totally excited about this new opportunity, and I am really looking forward to working with a publisher as diversified as Astraea.

Stay Tuned!

Release date and

new cover to follow

Wahoooo!

http://www.astraeapress.com/index.html

Best to “not so best” Books I read in 2012

I had a goal to read a book a month in 2012.  How’d I do?

Okay, yeah, I know everyone else posted this list in January, but hey, I’m different, you know (and maybe I totally forgot) :-)

But now I can say I’m original. Yay!

I gave myself this goal last year because as a writer, you are supposed to read – and I definitely wasn’t reading. Giving myself a goal forced me to go to bed earlier so I would have time to cuddle up with my book before I went to sleep, and made me feel good about saying “yes” when my husband asked if I wanted to read by the fire (which I love doing).

I’m glad to say that I am finding time to read again.  I can usually polish off a novel in a week or so if it is really good.   In 2012 I had a goal to read at least one book a month.  By the end of the year, I had read well over twenty books!  Yay me! (A few of them were novellas, but the important thing was that I was reading, and I scoped out books in many genres)

Here they are in order.  I kept moving these around for one reason or another.  I basically ranked them with a combination of great writing and general great reading experience.  (Which are two very different things)

My rating system:  Did I close the book and want to reach for another book by that author?  Then I ranked the book higher.  Was the writing fabulous, but something about the plot disturbed me?  Down the list you go.  (I don’t like to be ticked off or feel sick to my stomach after reading something.)

So here is every book I read in 2012 from best to “not so best”, weighing heavily on my emotional reaction to the story as well as all around great writing (and with the exception of maybe two books on this list, all the writing was really engaging.)

Crux, Julie Reece

The Glass Man, Jocelyn Adams

The P.U.R.E., by Claire Gillian

Read-hold up PKO_0016876Throne, Phil Tucker

Oracle, JC Martin

Instinct, JA Belfield

Mended Hearts, Olivia Devereaux

The Circle, Stella Berkley

Again, Diana Murdock

Surrender, by Aimee Laine

Hunger Games (Didn’t finish-watched movie instead)

The Secret Year, Jennifer Hubbard

Call of the Sea, Rebecca Heart

Darkness and Light, JA Belfield

The Sword, Bryan M. Litfin

Talbot’s Ploy, Kastil Evenshade

Soul of the Succubus, Lila Shaw

Fated Encounter, JA Belfield

Into the Unknown (Anthology)

Endless (Anthology)

A Touch of M**** (I feel bad listing someone as the worst, but this is that horrible book that I ananymously throttled for being so bad.  I will continue to keep its anonimity)

There you have it.  What were your favorites from last year?  Any recommendations for this year’s list?

JenniFer_EatonF

Road to Publication #12: My Author page – Somewhere other than HERE!

Wow.  Pinch me.  Every little step of this process that happens “in the public eye” that propels me closer to publication just makes me tingle.  Honestly, it does.

I feel like a little girl playing dress up.

You know how you lay in bed and dream at night of pretty photos of you, and interviews, and all that?  I mean, it’s starting to happen.

I know it’s not like Oprah has called or anything.  This is just an anthology release, not a best-selling novel, but I’m seeing things I’ve only dreamed about come true… if that makes any sense.

This is a big one for me… my author page.  This is the first time I have been featured somewhere OTHER THAN on my own web-site.  I know it is stupid, but I made a shortcut to it, and I keep clicking on it to make sure it’s still there.

Here’s the link if you’d like to take a look.  Come on, click me.  You know you want to.  I think I’ll pop over too, just in case…

Yep, it’s still there.  I am an official J.Taylor Publishing author.  Yep, that’s me.

Wow.  So cool.

The Road to Publication #1: The Contract

Wow, did I TOTALLY not expect to be writing a heading like that so early this year.

This will be a series of posts, but it will most-likely not be weekly.  Honestly, I don’t know everything that’s involved yet, or how often I’ll even have anything I can tell you.

Why am I writing this?

I realize that I am in a position of extreme interest to most of you.  As always, my mistakes, or my good fortune in this case, are an open book for you all to learn from.

To start with… the contract.  Wow.  Nothing makes things more real than seven scary pages filled with very serious sounding words like “Breach” “Grant” “Term” and “Indemnification”

Yikes!

Luckily enough for me, part of my day job is reading contracts, so this wasn’t as scary as it could have been.  I would highly suggest that if you DON’T have a background in contracts, or have a clear understanding of the publishing business, to bring your contract to a lawyer to get it explained.

Luckily for me, J.Taylor is a great publisher.  Their contract is concise and fair, and there are things in there to protect me and my family, as well as them.  Everything that I wanted was already there in the contract.  Whew!

Be prepared that there is a lot of negative stuff in the contract.  This is because the document is made to protect both sides if something “bad” happens.  It can be a little daunting to read all the stuff that can go wrong, but don’t worry.  This is just part of business, and is standard for almost any kind of business agreement.

What I really liked is J.Taylor Publishing softened the blow of the contract with a pretty “Welcome packet” wonderfully written with an air of excitement outlining some of the things that they will expect of me, and all of the great services that they offer.

After all I have heard about publishers dropping marketing in the lap of the author, leaving them to flounder on their own, I am tickled to find out that My publisher will be creating a marketing plan, and will do everything in their power to make sure the work is a success.

Marketing your novel while querying.

How do you do this?  Should you do this?

Everything I’ve read, and every author I’ve spoken to says: “Yes.”

When I pressed the submit button to the Publisher for my novelette LAST WINTER RED, I mulled for a little while about how important Marketing was to them.

Now, don’t let that surprise you.  All publishers are interested in authors who are marketable or able to market themselves.

As I’ve said before, my Facebook page stinks. (From my perspective)  My website/blog, however, I spend a lot of time on, and I am very proud of it.

I hoped they would see the value of that.  But then, as I thought it over, I took it a step further.

I decided to post my LAST WINTER RED query on my website.  I gave it its own tab.  But that was boring, and I don’t do boring.  I need to spruce it up a bit.

As most of you have noticed, I have an arsenal of artwork, and I am more than capable of manipulating graphics and text to bend to my will. (All of this artwork is copyrighted and paid for, by the way.  Don’t copy it—that’s stealing)

A short while of scanning brought me to a model that looked just like my MC Emily.  Throw an ashen Victorian dress on her and plop her into the snow in the middle of the woods.  Perfect.  Now, add the red cloak, laying on the snow.  Pout, Emily, you’re sad and confused.  Walla! Instant marketing piece.

If you look long enough, and if you are willing to pay for it (it’s not too costly) you can almost always find exactly what you need.

Now, I plopped this “advertisement” up really quickly, and spent more work on the art than the text since I used the actual query that I submitted to the publisher.  I’m not crazy about the tone of the query for the advertising purposes, but I wanted to get it up quickly, in case the publisher stopped by.

In the next few days, I tightened the query to be a little more readable, and make it look better visually in conjunction with the picture.

A little extra effort shows that not only am I marketable, but I will also be willing to, and have already, marketed my novel.

Please take a look and let me know what you think!

Is this a great idea?  An awful idea?  Whattya think?

Click the LAST WINTER RED tab in my title bar or click HERE to take a peek.