Romance Novellas, Literacy, Random This and That

First, a quick pointer to a useful freebie. Writing Romance Novellas is a short Smashwords ebook by romance author, Susanna Carr. Very short, and to the point, packed with plenty of information for the beginning romance writer. It’s also an excellent example of self-promotion. That’s not a dig. If you can offer something of real value and promote yourself at the same time, that’s two birds with one stone.

Sad realization: personal recommendations of genre novels are not a good basis for spending money. I’ve learned, the hard way, that the majority of novels in some genres, such as male/male romance, are unoriginal and poorly written. My stories are usually about male relationships, but aren’t romances in any normal sense of the word. So I’ve been trying to find novels that might be along the same lines: original themes, depth of characterization, and sex, if any, as subordinate to the central plot. You’d think that a dozen or more favorable reviews, plus a sample from the publisher, would give me a pretty good idea of whether a book is worth dipping into my limited book fund.

You’d think. And you’d be wrong. Reccer A loves it because of the characters. Reccer B loves it for the plot. But what it always boils down to is that they really love it for the sex. And the hotter the sex, the more favorable the review. What they don’t care about or don’t even notice, is the terrible writing. And believe me, if the publisher is smart, they’re going to pick the most alluring snippet for the sample. The snippet with no clumsy sentence construction, laughable vocabulary, or comma and other punctuation errors.

So there’s the book, paid for, downloaded, and waiting for me to inhale it like perfume. And what I find is something so wretchedly awful that only the fact of having paid for the damned thing compels me to read the whole thing before I delete it. Proving once again, that real literacy is hard to find and there should be a “Reader, beware” sign in front of every personal recommendation.

Current work: final editing of Boundaries. I wrote it in Arial 18 and have now switched to Times 24. In full-page mode, the type is even larger. If you’re doing your own proof reading and editing, I can’t recommend anything more useful than changing from your usual font to a new one, preferably serif, and drastically increasing the type size. A size that’s useful for writing or for regular reading can easily hide typos and punctuation errors.

I’m going to be posting a page about my Smashwords reviews. How I choose books to review, standards for rating, and disclosure about affiliate links.





9 thoughts on “Romance Novellas, Literacy, Random This and That

  1. Brilliant tip about proofing with a different font size and type-face. It really does make a difference, and mistakes you’ve passed over hundreds of times suddenly scream at you. It’s the next best thing to getting a second pair of eyes to look over your work.

    For proofing, nothing beats a second pair of eyes though… I have just finished proofing the final draft of a friend’s book before it went to the printers, and managed to spot a good handful of things that she and the publisher had both missed. Let’s hope she’ll do the same for me one day :o)

  2. I’ve never read a commercially published book without its share of typos, so if I can get mine down to a reasonable level, I’ll be perfectly happy. I don’t have a second set of eyes, though I’ve had an offer or two. But waiting for someone else to go through the book is just not worthwhile for me at the present time. I know that my book will be better written and proofed than a very large percentage of self-published work. Very good is achievable; perfection isn’t.

  3. That is good advice about changing the font! And an interesting post about ebooks. I wondered how that worked.

    I gave up reading blurbs long ago. Even the biggest names seemed to involved in some good-ole-boy club. Nothing beats going to bookstore and perusing the pages before purchase. (was that an echo?) Of course, publishers are just slick salesmen, who want to separate you from your dollar.

    I’d like to buy ebooks or even regular books from Amazon, but just reading the front cover, back cover and a random page is not enough for me crack the plastic. A lot of people think ebooks are going to be big, but it seems more opportunity to get snookered. (What are they hiding, I ask myself, if I can only read one page.)

    I heard that with the NOOK/Barns&Noble you can sit in the bookstore and read all you want before buying.

  4. I’ve never believed blurbs, but I did hope that the cumulative opinion of readers would have some relevance to the quality of a book.

    At the risk of pounding a drum, one of the reasons I like Smashwords is because authors can designate any percentage they want as a free introduction to their book. Some are very cinchy, and some don’t realize that by the time you get through way too much frontmatter, there’s very little left of the preview. But usually, it’s more than enough to let you know whether the book is worth reading.

    Apropos, I was just at a publisher’s website and was mildly interested in one of the books. But the preview was only three or four paragraphs, and for the price they were charging, it wasn’t worth the risk of wasting my money. I haven’t used Barnes and Noble, but Amazon’s Look Inside the Book often helps me decide whether or not to buy.

  5. Two excellent ideas:

    *Change font and size
    *”Reader, Beware” on recommendations

    I also must thank you for mentioning the freebie; not that I want that book but I have a short story I should work up and give away as promotion 🙂

  6. Another good tip for editing is to read it on a different device you wrote it on. I just did some editing on my Kindle and caught some glaring errors that I was embarrassed to see made it past the numerous passes on my computer.

    I don’t know what to trust anymore when it comes to picking books. Recommendations from people I know online tend to be the best. Recently I’ve been appalled at some books that get great reviews and are selling insanely well. It’s a puzzle to me and gives me a headache if I think on it for too long.

  7. A different device is a good idea. The only one I have, though is an iPod Touch, which wouldn’t be any help at all, I don’t think, because the screen can’t show much if you increase the font size.

    I’ve decided not to buy anything that is labeled erotica or hints at a lot of sex because those tend to be the ones that are churned out without much attention to plot or characterization. For the rest, I’m tending to stick to Smashwords books with a good-sized sample. I’ll look at recommenations from other sources, like blogs, but I’m seldom tempted to buy. In fact, I’ve deleted a lot of full-length freebies without bothering to finish them.

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