Facebook Book Clubs are all the rage at the moment. So much so that I decided to join one under the recommendation of my mother. I turned off my notifications and rarely read the reviews but from a (further) recommendation of my mother I decided to buy one of the most popular books on the page and read it. I was not a fan: I found the writing to be poor at times, the ending to be lacklustre and the story itself to be boring and lacking in any real substance.

As I persevered with the book I found myself wondering why it had been so popular on the book club and why so many people had loved it so. I kept my thoughts to myself, read another of the author’s books and enjoyed it more and kept silent on the book club. However, when another reviewer finally admitted to not liking the work and more followers agreed, I felt I could finally voice my criticism, which came in a similar way to that I’ve written above.

Yet, I had forgotten that the author herself was a member of the book club and could see my review. She wasn’t happy, to say the least, and made a comment along the lines of: ‘It’s so hard to hear people completely rubbish and pour hate onto something you’ve worked hard on’.

I felt guilty for my comment and guilty for having my opinion. It wasn’t that I was pouring hate, per se, but I found her writing style to be uncomfortable and disjointed in places and found that perhaps she would be more comfortable in third-person prose rather than first-person as I found another of her books an easier, more enjoyable read. What struck me, though, is that the fault may not necessarily lie with the author but with her editor.

Surely her editor should have read the syntax as I did and suggested better phrasing and writing?

So I relocated the book on Amazon in an effort to find the publisher and to my expectation I discovered it was self-published.

So often this happens with self-publishing, that the editing and writing is just not up to the standard of a well published and promoted novel.

I attempted to read a self-published work once that confused ‘there/their and they’re’ and couldn’t make it past chapter three for its poor, frankly unreadable, editing.

Whilst I understand the notion of self-publishing, I have to wonder if authors and first-time writers think to find more people and study groups to beta their work in the hopes of improving it to get a formal publishing contract. After all, they cannot expect to be anywhere on a bestseller list without concrete editing and publicity. Whilst the original book in question has been successful both on Amazon and my Facebook Book Club, I am not surprised that it has yet to make an appearance on a true book list with clumsy attempts at first-person.

I also believe that such self-publishers turn to book clubs and the like in order to bolster their self-worth. After all, a group of housewives are hardly going to have the same critical opinion as a literary agent or editor. Though I don’t mean to sound condemnatory to such book clubs, which are all fun to a point, I have to suggest that in order to get ahead in an authorial career, one must seek out better editing and beta-ing, and not reviewers that will simply pander to you because you mention you have a sick child or have worked really, really hard.

I stand firm in my opinion of the book in question and self-publishing, and wonder if the author took more notice of the more critical reviews, would she be closer to getting a publishing contract?

I open myself up to self-publishers, ready to read their novels (if readable, unlike the author confused by ‘their/they’re/there’) and give a true critical opinion, in the hope of helping them, not hindering their progression.

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