#SaysTheEditor: Uber-bad and anti-this


We’ve all seen the derogatory comments about self-published books. How poor the quality is. Bad grammar. Poorly copy edited. Needs an overall editor. Facts are wrong.

Over and over, I’ve watched the anti-self-pubbed crowd turn up their noses at self-published books, claiming these are the reasons no one should ever align themselves with that drek. Getting a real book deal means you’re automatically lifted above the unwashed masses. It’s proof of excellence.

Stick a sock in it and get your nose out of the air.

I’m reading a book published by a relatively new imprint of one of the oldest, most well-respected houses out there. I’ve met the head editor back in the days when I was doing the author circuit. She may even recall my own name.

And this book is a total embarrassment.

The person who drives a cab? CABBIE. Even my teens got that right when I asked them.

Uber? Is a prefix. As in uber-bad. As in you don’t have to be an uber-editor to get this one in your sleep.

The book is a sports romance, and I’ve been reading a lot of them lately. This one’s a hockey romance, in fact. A sport I used to play. A sport I continue to follow, albeit not as closely as I once did. So yeah, I can pick up on the facts that are wrong, and the facts that are being fudged so the author looks like she knows what she’s talking about.

The storyline is poorly done. I keep thinking, “Okay, now we’re in the part of the book where we’ll deal with X issue.” — it should be integrated, and it should be seamless. There shouldn’t be parts of the book devoted to issues.

The timeline is fuzzy. I’m not sure at any point how much time has passed, both since the beginning of the book and in relation to past events (see next paragraph). This is an easy fix! The author (and editor) should work from a timeline that clearly illustrates this.

The male lead has some serious issues. He goes to the cemetery to visit his dead daughter. Okay, fine. We’ve heard in spades how much he misses her and how badly he’s still hurting, some indeterminate number of years later. But on this day, he runs into his ex-wife. And he’s more focused on talking to her (and getting The Big Life Lesson, which hits us with some major neon signage) than he is on what he came here to do, which is pay respects to the girl. But in the middle of his conversation with his ex, he stops, sends a silent thought up to the daughter, and then goes back to the ex. Hello? And you claim to be torn up about losing her? So much so that you struggle to do your job?

Dude. You just lost ALL credibility with me. Do I really have to finish reading?

Yeah. Another bad book — I know this isn’t the first time I’ve come down hard on books from big-name publishers. It’s not that I’m anti-big publishing. I firmly think that every model has its pros and cons, and that publishing is big enough to need both models.

I’m anti-badly written, badly edited books. That’s the difference.

I see brilliant self-published books. I just read a brilliant historical romance from a major house. Man, that knocked my socks off. Book clubs everywhere should read this and talk about it. It brings up issues of what a happy ending truly is, of the value of getting to know a person before making judgements (although the character in question totally did come off as smarmy and gross, which is where the author’s brilliance really came through), of what it means to love. This book blew me away.

I’m anti-snobs. I’m anti- authors who look down their noses at other authors for choosing their own path. I’m more than anti- authors who won’t give a helping hand to their fellow writers. If we all push ourselves to do better and help each other reach for better craft, better editors, better publishing experiences of all kinds, imagine the literary works we’d be putting out. And I don’t mean literary in the sense of High Falutin’ Lit. I mean literary in the sense of basic words spelled right. Stories that are filled with believable facts and that push the cliches aside and give us characters and storylines we can buy and root for and never want to see end.

And one last footnote: In the middle of reading this latest piece of drek, I came across a job posting from the publisher. I thought about going for it, but it looks like I’d have to stop working for the authors who I currently work for, and I’m just not into that idea. I’d be glad to work something else out, however. It’s all about better books, right?


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