ePublishing Tip to dramatically Improve Reviews and Sales
ePublishing Tip to dramatically Improve Reviews and SalesAug 14
Image courtesy Matt Hampel.
I’ve had more or less the same experience happen several times in the last couple of weeks.
I’m a member of a critique group. I won’t say which one here just in case someone figures out who I am here and there. I want to protect the guilty, so to speak. I chose a work to critique that I thought I might be interested in reading. Within the first paragraph or two, I was horrified at the grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors in the work. I’m not talking about one or two; I mean lots and lots of errors. Some of these were truly egregious since a simple spell check would have fixed many of the issues.
Was I frustrated? Sure I was. I had taken the time to pick a work to critique, download it, and then I find that it’s basically unreadable. What impression do you think this gave me of the author? Either he didn’t know how to improve the work, which is bad, or he didn’t care, which is worse.
Fast forward a few days.
I’m shopping on Amazon, and I find a book that I think I might enjoy. It’s self-published, but I buy a lot of those since I want to support other writers. I read some of the reviews and notice that there are several low rankings. That by itself doesn’t necessarily put me off a book. Some people will rank a book at one star simply because it wasn’t for them. I disagree with that approach, but whatever.
I read the lower ranked reviews, and several mention grammar problems and spelling problems. They’re pretty complimentary on the book itself, but many say that there were so many errors that it made the book difficult to get into. One reviewer even commented that every time he got into the story, he would get knocked back out by a really glaring error.
I didn’t buy the book. I have to wonder how many others, just like me, passed up on purchasing it as well.
Finally, last night I had a very similar experience. I’m a member of a large online community (again, I won’t name it here). A member had posted a sample of his book that is currently for sale on Amazon. He has sold almost no copies.
I made it through the first paragraph, and that’s as much as I could take. Again, the work was peppered with grammar and spelling problems. Dialogue was punctuated incorrectly. The errors were so serious and so frequent that it was impossible to concentrate on the story. I felt that I should be grading it, not reading it. What was worse? The writer admitted that he knew there were lots of problems, but he didn’t have the time to clean it up.
Yet, he had time to write it, post it to Amazon for sale, and complain on line that no one is buying it.
Readers pay attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and many are not forgiving of errors. I have to admit, I’m not. I don’t expect any book to be perfect. I know I make mistakes, and I know that I’ve bought books by established writers who are traditionally published that still contain mistakes. Still, that doesn’t let writers off the hook. We still have a responsibility to make the book as good as it can be.
Edit! It’s very hard to edit your own work, but there are things you can do.
- Let the work rest before editing.
- Read the work aloud.
- Ask a friend who is better at grammar to take a look and point out common mistakes.
- Use a writer’s group or a critique group. Get as many reviews as you can.
- Hire someone to edit and proofread for you.
Readers will notice mistakes, and it will affect reviews and sales. What do you do to get your work ready for publication?