One of the online groups I hang out with is doing a group read. I recently downloaded the book they’ve selected and started reading.
I am struggling.
The book is riddled with issues - incorrect grammar and punctuation, inconsistent formatting, and (a more subjective issue) it feels over-wordy, like there’s a lot of fat and fluff that could be trimmed out and tightened up without detracting from the story. I would say this book is a long way from being ready to publish, and I have a feeling the author has never sought genuinely independent critical or editorial feedback.
This all makes it a slog to read as my eye trips up over multiple issues on each page.
However, the issues do seem to be consistent, so I guess the author has been diligent in his own editing. It’s just that he clearly wasn’t diligent enough to actually learn how to (for example) punctuate dialogue correctly.
Yes, I remember having to look up and re-learn a load of long-forgotten rules when I first started writing, but it just seemed a natural thing to want to do in order to express myself clearly.
And, I have to say, I believe there is actually a good story underneath all this distraction.
So, my dilemma is whether or not to say anything to the author.
On one hand, I feel he’s doing himself a disservice. If he were aware, especially of the technical errors, they’d be easy to fix and he’d immediately have a product that didn’t look so obviously amateur. Plus - and this is an entirely selfish reaction - a part of me is angry because this is an example of why self-publishing has such a poor reputation. Every book that gets published with such glaring issues makes it more difficult for all Indies to be taken seriously.
On the other hand, it’s a free country, he’s not breaking any laws, and he may be perfectly happy with his book and how it’s doing out in the marketplace. It’s really not for me to step in with unsought advice.
And then again, I notice these kinds of things because I’ve been so immersed in the writing world that a misplaced period or wrongly capitalized word leaps out and smacks me in the eye. But what about the majority of readers out there? Do they care? Would they even notice? Does it really matter?
So, what would you do?