By: Marcia King-Gamble
It's a competitive world out there, and with so many authors offering free reads, I am mighty selective about what I buy these days. Aren't you? Hard cover books are pushing the $30 mark and paperbacks can cost close to $10.00. So don't you think twice before getting out that credit card? In today's world of outlet shopping I can get an entire outfit for that same 30.00 bucks.
Like you, I have a tendency to stick to the tried and true. Authors that I know for sure can deliver. Authors like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, because there isn't one of her stories I don't like. The same can be said for Donna Hill, and then there is Sandra Kitt - the reason I began this crazy writing career. Incidentally she is the co-author of my last book, titled By Design.
What most people don't realize is that even if you are traditionally published ( and you get editing services for free,) these professionals with their ivy league degrees are hardly infallible. You, the author, shouldn't leave all the proofing up to them. Your responsibility is to edit your book as best as you can, and even so, you are way too close to your work to catch all the errors.
That said, several things pull me out of a book. A poorly researched book being one of them. Sure I can forgive the occasional typo. I can even forgive the dangling participles, and I can overlook the chapters that end without a hook. What I can't forgive are misspellings, or the inappropriate use of words. I have difficulty forgiving the author placing her story in a setting she is clearly unfamiliar with. For gosh sakes we live in the world of Google maps and videos.
Case in point, I recently read a novel set in the world of the affluent, yet the author didn't have a clue that those enjoying that lifestyle would never wait in an airport lounge, or pick up their luggage at the carousel. Further, she did not understand that the hotels they stayed in would never serve a $8.95 buffet breakfast in the lobby, and that such a thing as room service is a staple in most 4/5 star hotels.
I am by no means suggesting that we are all born with silver spoons in our mouths. I am simply suggesting that a little research could easily have added some authenticity to her story. Another pet peeve of mine are self published authors with homemade book covers. Covers sell a book and if that book looks amateurish there go your sales. The only person you are hurting by being cheap is yourself. There are Internet companies that can help. I have gotten some beautiful covers from upcoming graphic artist looking to build a portfolio for as little as $5.00, and I have tipped them far more than they charged.
This brings me to another pet peeve of mine. Books with no internal conflict. What surprises me are the number of seasoned authors putting out books that are all external conflict. For those of you who don't know what I mean, let me elaborate. An external conflict is an issue created by an outside force; a situation going on in the hero/heroines environment. It drives the dramatic action of the plot. Think Romeo and Juliet and the two feuding families.
The internal conflict is the war within. The struggle inside that usually prevents the characters from moving forward. It's the dilemma facing the characters and it's impact on them. If these people aren't relatable or flawed why should we care? Everyone has experiences that have scarred them and made them vulnerable. Readers want to read about people they can relate to and root for, and they want to see them grow. At the end of the book they want to have learned something.
When I read a book that is all external conflict, and no internal, it makes me wonder what drives that character. What are the stakes? How can I root for a character that I don't know, and why should they matter when the author has not provided the ground work for me to understand who they are, where they come from, and why is that goal so important to them?
Since I write romance, I need to know what drives my characters. It's not enough that two people are attracted to each other and find love. What are the obstacles they face? What is so important to them to make them step out of their comfort zone to achieve that goal? It's got to be more important than winning that guy or girl.
Books with no black moment are downright boring to me. It's that knuckle biting moment when you think all is lost, and there is no hope of romance between these two people that keep you reading. If everything is hunky dory from start to finish it's yawn city.
I spend money on books to be carried away, and while I'm being transported to another world I want to learn something. If I stumble over sentences that require I reread them four or five times until I understand what the author is saying, then I get frustrated not carried away.
As authors we may only have one time to make a first impression (especially with new readers.) It pays to be your own harsh critic, and it also pays to enlist the services of an editor or proofreader. It could very well be the best money spent.
About Marcia King-Gamble
Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This former travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. Her free time is spent at the gym, traveling to exotic locales, and caring for her animal family.
Visit Marcia at www.lovemarcia.com or “friend” her on Facebook: http://bit.ly/1MlnrIS