Anyway, I found a book I'd received as a free download from an indie author, a YA fantasy that was first of a series, and realized I'd had it a couple of years and had never gotten to it. This seemed as good a time as any, so I opened it up.
The writer, a young woman, obviously has the gift for storytelling and did a good job of engaging me despite some rather clichéd situations and characters, and a world that hadn't been terribly well thought-out. That's no mean feat. I shrugged and kept reading right through bad sentence mechanics, choreography glitches, a few horsemanship gaffes, and other basic eye-rollers ... until one of the characters, a 15 year old boy, angrily referred to a professional bandit of probably twice his years as a "whelp" as if it were a vile insult. A few pages later, another character mentioned feeling "coarse", but the context made no sense at all. Later, people kept guffawing when laughter was obviously not what the author meant to convey. A character "scaled" a wall she was supposedly descending.
And it kept happening.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a whole blog about the seemingly growing trend among new young writers to use words incorrectly (The Right Word, The Right Way; March 2015). It's a pet peeve of mine. I mean, almost everyone writes on their computer these days, so how hard is it to pull up an on-line dictionary or thesaurus? There are dozens along with good old Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com. And on any of them, a writer can actually LOOK UP WORDS he or she doesn't use every day or are not familiar with, and see if they're used correctly. Lord knows, I've made (and continue to make) my share of mistakes, but I still work at constantly improving. Anyone who truly cares about their craft should take the time to learn the meaning of words they're using. They're the basic tools of your craft.
I checked at the front of the book, and sure enough, this writer had even engaged an editing service. Obviously, all they'd done was check for typos. No help at all.
Shaking my head, I decided to look the writer up online, wondering whatever had happened to her. Here the poor kid had put her heart and soul into a book meant to be the start of a series, and no one had thought to help out what was obviously a real, albeit undeveloped, talent, and she probably had no idea why her books hadn't gone anywhere...
Imagine my surprise when I saw that, not only was the series already completed and available on-line, but she had literally hundreds of reviews, most of them 3 stars or more. And according to USA Today, she really was a bestselling author. How, I wondered in bewilderment. I mean, I know that Romance and YA are the two most popular genres these days, and the YA market is still growing by leaps and bounds, but...really?
What the heck did she know that I didn't?
Then I noticed that all her books were either free or $.99. Now, I've been party to many a discussion among indie and part-time indie writers debating the ethics and implications of putting one's books up for sale at $.99. Most authors who combine traditional and indie publishing think this is a disservice to all writers everywhere, including other indie authors. So despite some major-league writers who disagree with this viewpoint, I've never gone that route.
I went on to look over the list of all this new author's books, then looked through a long list of the $.99 offerings, the "$0.00 on Kindle Unlimited" offerings, and the "book series bundles". Most of them had dozens more reviews than I do on any of my books, had at least one "bundled" series at $10.00 or under for the whole set, and seemed to be doing very well with them.
I also noticed the first author had pages on just about every social media outlet imaginable. Heck, I thought I was doing well to have websites for myself and TFA Press, and to remember to write a blog once in a while. And FB, of course, and a Twitter account I never use for anything. This young author is obviously of the generation that thinks of computers as extensions of her body and spirit. Unlike me, who still tends to view them as works of the devil, avoided when at all possible.
Hmmmm. Maybe I should re-think some of my stances on these things.