Sunday, August 17, 2014

So You Want To Be A Writer

Every once in a while, someone on one of the FB pages/groups I follow or am a member of will pipe up and ask opinions on whether or not they should write a book.  The post usually looks something like this:

so ive been thinking about writting a book lol i've just allways wanted to rite n i no i have a good book people wuld by it's title is: the next best amurican novel n i no it wuld be a best seller what do u think shuld i do it

Now, I know I'm not an expert on all things writing.  Heck, there are some days when I just can't get the right words to come out of my mouth for anything.  I have not, and will not, write the Next Great American Novel.  Frankly, I don't have the time, patience, or creativity to do so.

I'm proud of the two books I've written and published.  They are solid books, good for entertainment, nothing more, nothing less.  TALES FROM THE TRAIL has hit #1 on Amazon's free list a couple of times and hovered in the top twenty for a while.  HUNTED LYON faces much stiffer competition, but has still sold relatively well.  Since I don't intend to make a living from writing, the little bit extra is kind of fun, but mostly I just enjoy my books and hope other people do as well.

I am a voracious reader, though, and have some very strong opinions about writing from a reader's standpoint.  When I see posts like the one above, I want to scream and tell the person who posted not only no, but hell no, they should not write a book.

Based on my limited experience as an author and my extensive experiences as a reader, here are a few "tips" for people who want to write a book:

  • Punctuation.  It is a really go idea and helps the reader understand WTF it is you're trying to say.
  • Spelling.  Try it some time. Even if you can't spell, your computer can and it will helpfully underline the misspelled words in red ink.
    • There is no "x" in eSpecially
    • No is there an "x" in eSpresso
  • Text-speak.  See Punctuation and Spelling
  • Sentence Structure.  A very basic understanding of  how to build a sentence will go a long way in your writing endeavors.  
  • Word Choice.  Your computer cannot decipher if you are using the wrong word, but spelling it correctly, to help you out here.
    • Could've, should've, would've are contractions for could have, should have, would have = NOT could OF, should OF, would OF
    • You must know the difference between homophones.  Your and you're are not the same thing.  Neither are there, their, they're.

In all seriousness, though, I think people need to pay attention to how they come across online.  The people who post things on FB/Twitter/Instagram need to pay attention to how they present themselves.  I know the social media thing has been done to death when it comes to professionalism, and I'm preaching to the choir here, but if you want to be taken seriously, you must put forth an effort.

I know that I have blog posts up with errors - I try my best to avoid them, but often, I'm just jotting something down to get it off of my chest (like I'm doing here) or because I'm excited.  My blog posts are written very much the same way I speak.  However, my books are not.  TALES is a narrative, but I put a lot of effort into cleaning it up and "formalizing" it to make it more readable.  HUNTED LYON is written in a completely different manner, much more formal, but my voice still comes through.

I know I've posted things on FB with errors (usually simply swype-os), but I always try to maintain a certain level of professionalism.  After all, I want people to buy my books and I know they won't if my posts, especially on my author's page, are so full of errors that they are almost unreadable.

The people who post that they want to write a book, yet have zero apparent writing skills are people I'll never buy a book from - even if the book is free.  Those people have killed their market even before they know they have one.

I know self-publishing has opened up many doors, for which I am very thankful. However, for every well-written self-published book out there, there are many more poorly-written books by people who post statuses like the one above.

My advice to the people who post statuses like the one above:

Just don't.  Please.  You're killing those of us who put time and effort and a bit of pride into our work.


Daddy Hawk said...

That about sums it up. Bonus points if the characters are interesting, the plot doesn't read like Swiss cheese, and the story is actually entertaining.

Momma Fargo said...

I conquer! I rite lick that one guy.

Allenspark Lodge said...

I know I have a novel inside me.

I suspect if it ever came out, it would be just like everything else that comes out of my colon.