I’m an extreme bookaholic. I should probably be attending Bookaholic Anonymous meetings. I could quite happily spend days cruising around Amazon, but I don’t have the time, so I tend to zoom on through once a week, looking for specific things. Apart from the novels (that I just know I’ll get to reading before I expire), I’m partial to “how to” books. Having only been part of the writing community for a couple of short years, I generally like seeing what tips and pointers are lurking around from the professionals. I know that having written my stories before it occurred to me to learn my craft, I must be doing lots of things wrong. Also, I’ve always loved reading about the opinions and personal lives of authors. Stephen King’s, On Writing, is a favourite.
I’m not keen on criticizing others publicly – purely because I am a craven coward, and you never know what the so criticized might get up to by way of revenge. Not at all because I don’t have quite a lot of opinions on pretty much every subject on the planet, you understand. I really do. But… Having just downloaded a book on how to write prose, that consisted of about three pages of rotten prose, twenty pages of advertisements for the author’s other books, and several pages on how cool he was in general, I have to cry “Crap!” If you’re going to write a “how to” book, then what it says on the cover should appear on the pages. For the first time ever, I returned a book to Amazon. Who needs that sort of rubbish lurking around on your kindle, and why enrich some guy who clearly is just out to make a buck out of newbies, and say bugger to the art of writing entirely? That sort of nonsense shouldn’t be clogging up the works on Amazon at all, and certainly not pages ahead of properly informative books, simply because some tool knows more about SEO than their authors did.
Some books I’ve bought on the art of writing have had glaring typos, grammatical disasters, and sentences of such stupendous silliness on their first pages, that I wondered what on Earth gave these people the balls to tell others what to do. I would not for one instant consider telling anyone what to do. Well… I
do would really, but I don’t charge them for it, or retaliate overly when they start hurling abuse, cursing, and demanding to know just who the hell I am. Whatever rocks their boat I say. Quite apart from anything else, what about the poor innocents who take them at their word, and try write as they do? The mind boggles! If you really want to make some cash, why not write a “how to” book on something that you actually do know how to do? Anyway….
I think I’ll just write my own “how to” write a book here quickly, based on my own actual awesome trip, generally superior knowledge to everyone else in the multiverse, and being totally brilliant at everything. So…
1. Give in to strange automatic writing thing going on with right hand, and scribble out a book.
2. Buy computer.
3. Enter the world wide web from Zimbabwe with the help of the weakest internet signal on the planet.
4. Zoom around looking for editors, proof-readers, and cover designers.
5. Find none that take Visa, nor any prepared to help for free.
6. Zoom around finding out how to do it yourself.
7. Do it yourself.
8. The end.
10. Pretend to market stuff while chatting to online buddies.
11. Write a How To book.
That’ll just be $9.99 thanks. Oh! And buy my book on How to do Rocket Science too, while you’re at it.
I’m cool with the typos and errors from newbie writers, as long as I like their story. I’m one of them after all, so I know how hard it is going things alone, and I know that I plan on working at fixing any errors that I make, and learning from writers who really do know what they’re doing, as I head on forward with my scribbles. Why not give them the chance to right their wrongs before trashing their hard work? But as far as buying books to help you with the technicalities of getting to publication, my tip to newbie writers would be to look at the author of the “How to Write” book before you buy it. Check out their published works. And if their only other title is “How to Chew Gum”, move on up and keep looking.