Reading, Writing and Critiques

Lately I’ve been reading a lot as a beta reader and for review. When a book blurb catches my attention I also go read any samples I find to see if it will be a book I will enjoy. With all this reading I am always keeping in mind what makes a good book for me as a reader. riLg7agi8Traditionally books have gone through a stringent process before a publisher ever released printed copies to the public. Readers in the public could reasonably expect a grammatically correct, error free book when they made a purchase or took it off the library shelf.

With the advent of electronic books and rising popularity of self publishing has come a trend of good stories with substandard editing. Now, I’m not an editor, but as a beta reader I believe it is my duty to point out both typographical and grammatical errors. Some authors do an excellent job self editing before they allow beta readers to see their work. Some are able to get professional editors to help them polish their stories. Honestly these are the ones that are generally most successful. But there are a lot of good stories that need attention to the technical details before they are ready for public viewing. Many do not get that attention to the degree needed before the author hastily self published. This is too bad because a good story is not given the chance to be a great book. An author who could be great is deemed mediocre because of quality of editing instead of the quality of the story itself.

I certainly cannot read every book that is being self published, but I can help a few polish up their work. Three to four books a month for beta reading is about my speed. office-icons-book-free-stock-vectorSome of the books I read should have had a thorough edit before I read them. Still I plod through and point out typos and grammar errors. Occasionally I will even have a comment on how to make the story better.  Though I do not feel qualified to be a story editor I think I could pass as a reasonably good copy editor, maybe.

One of the most common things I find are sentences that are just too long. Complete thoughts strung together that could easily be broken into two or more sentences. Breaking them down would make the reading flow so much better. I tend to get lost by the middle of a sentence with thirty or more words. I read once, for good writing, a sentence should not be more than about twenty words, shorter is even better.  Another issue is the mixing of tense. These make reading confusing. Keeping tense consistent is important.

Occasionally an author will be so wrapped up in writing the story that  they forget to identify the character in dialog and descriptive scenes. Too many “he, she, him, her, his and hers” for me to track. Authors have clearly in mind who is referenced, but as a reader, I sometimes get lost. It’s okay to use character names frequently. After all they are the main stars of the story.

Everyone will have typographical errors before the manuscript is polished. That is not a big deal. I point them out and move on. Sometimes the author changed something and parts of the previous version were not deleted. I just have to highlight that passage and say, “fix it.” That happens to me occasionally while writing my blog posts.

I think the thing that really bothers me the most is reading a ‘sample’ of an already published ebook and seeing glaring errors in the sample. Those errors tell the person reading the sample that this book has not been well edited. Many people will just pass on reading it because of the sample’s quality. The story may be a great one with a well developed plot and characters, but the quality of the editing will prevent people from buying the book.


Many new self publishing authors do not believe they can afford to pay an editor. Sure, it will take a lot of sales to recoup the expense. But if an author really wants people to read and come back for more, then an editor is essential. Scrimp, save, make payment arrangements, anything to get that first book well edited. It is amazing how much better the book will become when the advice of a good editor is taken and incorporated. There will be many hours of rewriting after that first edit comes back, but, the book will be better for it. The author will become a better writer. Don’t be so in love with your work that you can’t bear to change things as recommended by the editor. Love your story, but don’t be in love with it, be willing to make changes to make it better. Get an editor!

May all your books be well edited,

Grandma Peachy

Here are some links:




About grandmapeachy

I am a retired grandmother and amateur quilter. Generally I do not discuss religion and politics with people other than my family and even then I do more listening than talking. Because I dislike confrontation this blog is a way for me to express opinions that I hold on these and other issues without having to delve into controversial discussions with others who may not agree with me. I am also an avid supporter of indie authors. There are a lot of great books that are not available through traditional publishing and I believe that these stories need to be brought to the attention of the reading public.
This entry was posted in Indie Authors, Writing tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Reading, Writing and Critiques

  1. I can’t tell you how many stories and novels I’ve opted out of because the sample or the first few pages contained glaring errors. In my business writing, I often let a work product “cool” and give it a few hours or a day before I send it out. In that time, I try to rope someone else to look at it, so many times they find those little errors that I missed! I’m always thankful and will always return the reading favor when I’m asked. every author should avail the services of a “pre” reader.


  2. Wonderful insight 🙂


    • It is my opinion that there are a lot of really good stories that are published before they are polished. This hurts the authors and I want to ecourage authors to put out their best works. Anything less than their best will hurt sales and give them a less than excellent reputation as an author.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s