How to Suck Eggs

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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.
9. Um.
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.

dummies

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31 thoughts on “How to Suck Eggs

    LucyPireel said:
    June 30, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Hear, hear Jo Dearie! Great put to words what I often think. It’s a rotten egg that should be tossed out of the basket those kind of ‘authors’, but then again the beauty of this self-publishing thing is that the really good ones are now out there too. We just have to look a bit harder to find those.
    Like you I do not like to trash another’s work, I rather let the author know I found some glaring errors in their opus and give them the chance to correct before posting a bad review.
    You know, I think you’re brave for posting htis and returning the book. I’ve never done that, but you’re right. Why filling the pocket of someone whose mind was on the money and not the matter.
    xoxo

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      June 30, 2013 at 11:26 am

      You’re right that there are a lot of really good new books coming on to the market. There seems to be a new thing going on though – people who really aren’t interested in actually writing are jumping on to the bandwagon with these non-fiction books, and loading up what looks to be mainly sales pitches for things, with some really arb scribbles attached to make it seem legitimate. I think that us indies have more than enough hurdles on the way to becoming visible without this new trend. You’re too kind to trash anyone my friend, and your advice comes from real talent. 😀 xxx

      Like

        LucyPireel said:
        June 30, 2013 at 11:51 am

        🙂 Thanks Jo, I do wonder if the Amazon peeps who should check content are asleep or just don’t care?
        And you are a real talent too, in more than one field. Plus you are my valued friend
        xoxo

        Like

          jorobinson176 responded:
          June 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm

          Thank you darlin’ Lucy. 😀 I don’t think that Amazon check things as they’re loaded to begin with. There’s no way they could read that many books so quickly, but I have heard that they randomly check things. I reckon they really should start checking what’s going on, or their system will end up clogged with 90% junk, and people will start looking for good books where they’re easier to find. 😀

          Like

            LucyPireel said:
            June 30, 2013 at 3:19 pm

            Maybe something to turn their attention to by sending feedback as we return those non-fiction books which really have no value?
            xoxo

            Like

              jorobinson176 responded:
              June 30, 2013 at 3:40 pm

              That actually is a really good idea. I think for once, I might be willing to leave a really bad review. If it’s not even a proper attempt at writing, my newbie rule doesn’t apply, and if these guys are allowed to go ahead with whatever it is they are doing, I reckon it’s time to look for greener publishing pastures. xxx

              Like

                LucyPireel said:
                June 30, 2013 at 9:24 pm

                I know my next book will go through Kobo Writing Life and Smashwords as well as Amazon, just to make sure I catch that Kindle reader too, but I’ll never give Amazon sole right to my work. It’s a shame we can’t really totally bypass them.
                xoxo

                Like

        The Story Reading Ape said:
        June 30, 2013 at 6:46 pm

        Don’t give into the DARK SIDE Jo, send an email to Amazon and/or contact the author direct and let him know your concerns privately, that way you BOTH keep your dignity 🙂

        Like

    The Story Reading Ape said:
    June 30, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Hi Jo, you’re absolutely correct, there are a lot of ‘wannabe authors’ around who spoil the chances of REAL new authors – I think I’ll reblog this post 🙂

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      June 30, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Thanks Chris! And thanks also for sharing on your most cool site – really appreciated! 😀

      Like

    The Story Reading Ape said:
    June 30, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's New (to me) Authors Blog and commented:
    I think Jo is correct about some ‘wannabe authors’, but a message to REAL new authors, DO NOT GIVE UP TRYING 🙂

    Like

    cicampbell2013 said:
    June 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    You are so right, Jo. And , Lucy, I like your phrase about not filling the pocket of those whose ‘mind is on the money not the matter’. Seems to me there are too many peeps out there after our hard earned pennies.
    We’ll just have to help one another rise to the surface to be spotted as genuine, ‘real writers’. X

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      June 30, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      We will Christine! Your writing is a case in point – who wouldn’t love to read your words? We should get paid for our honest work – not for copying and pasting things you know nothing about, and adding your moniker to them. There comes a time when good manners have to make way for the truth, and if these things start flooding the system now, it’ll be a huge blow for indies I think. I was blown away by the sheer quantity of new sales pitches posing as books on Amazon now. They weren’t there when I had a squiz a couple of weeks ago. I reckon there’s some new “make money with ebooks” thing going on. xx

      Like

    MishaBurnett said:
    June 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I gave up reading “How To Self-Publish” books some time ago, less because of poor writing and more for unrealistic expectations. I am simply not able to publish six books a year and spend several thousand dollars launching each one.

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      June 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      You’re right there Misha. I think that writing six really good books every year is not doable by most of us. Unless you have some sort of template, where the names and places change, but the stories stay the same. So far I haven’t spent a cent. Not because I’m tight, but because of sanctions on the country I then called home. Now I’ve learned the basics of totally going it alone, I wouldn’t want to pay for anything except maybe proofing and advertising when I feel that I’m ready, and my books are perfect. Are you still writing and publishing though?

      Like

        MishaBurnett said:
        June 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm

        Oh, yeah. I should have my second one out over July.

        Like

    John W. Howell said:
    June 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Really like your post. Came over from The Story Reading Ape and want to come back

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      June 30, 2013 at 1:46 pm

      That’s great John! I’m really pleased to meet you. I’m following your site too now – love what you have to say. You inspired me also, I’m thinking in tens now. 😀 Thanks Chris The Story Reading Ape! This is the second cool new writer I’ve found today thanks to you!

      Like

    Michelle said:
    June 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    That is so funny but true. I love how to books and it is frustrating when it ends up being an experience like yours. By the way, my book dealer is finally get help? LOL By the way, no fix yesterday? You made me think about something that was floating around in the brain the other day..When Amazon offers you to see in inside the book, shouldn’t the objective be SEE INSIDE THE BOOK? Not the table of context or the index. That way people can get a sense a little about what ti look forward to.

    Yes, there are so many authors trying to be experts in writing when they don’t offer that much. Trust me, you don’t have to have a billion bestsellers to be an expert. I always tell people read a lot, write a lot. Practice makes perfect.

    Like

    jorobinson176 responded:
    June 30, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Sorry Michelle! I’ve been scrabbling like crazy to catch up after the bird disaster week (800 odd emails to go 😀 ). This calls for a quick fix *fumbles in coat and* http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-eBooks/zgbs/digital-text/154606011/ref=pd_zg_rss_tf_kstore_154606011_9 – I’ll zoom over to google and post it there in a minute too. You’re exactly right with the look inside feature! I look inside, and I wonder if the frontspieces have been made especially long so you don’t get to see the actual writing. One funny thing – I looked inside Gordon Ramsay’s autobiography, and his NAME was spelled wrong! Ha haaaaa! I agree about the reading and writing. If you don’t read, you won’t be able to write.

    Like

    Lawrence Grodecki said:
    June 30, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    I once bought a book on Rocket Science, only to eventually discover that I had been taken for a ride, and I never looked back!

    Today, you can take a Free Ride . . . it’s quite a romp . . . hope you don’t mind Jo (no need to return it)!

    http://amzn.to/12CN1VU

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      June 30, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Thanks for the freebie Lawrence! We’re all a bit linky today from the looks of things. Have you shared it with The Story Reading Ape? And our google readers meet authors? Here’s another – why not? 😀 https://plus.google.com/communities/115573021758683598908

      Like

        Lawrence Grodecki said:
        June 30, 2013 at 4:55 pm

        You’re welcome Jo – I’m only on Amazon right now – I signed on for the exclusive deal, which is over on Saturday. So next Sunday I’ll be on Kobo and more – can hardly wait!

        Thanks for the google link and I’ll check out The Story Reading Ape – though it seems that one is “missing a link”! 🙂

        Like

        The Story Reading Ape said:
        June 30, 2013 at 6:38 pm

        It’ll missing link him … 🙂
        Your book is now displayed in my FREEBIES Lawrence but I could only tell people it was for a limited time, is it free until next Saturday?

        Like

    acflory said:
    June 30, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    It’s 3am and this made me laugh. Thanks, I can now relax and go to bed. Oh and the cheque’s in the mail [for the advice]. 😀

    Like

    caroleparkes said:
    June 30, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Some very valid comments here and from my point of view I think a lot of newbie writers upload their books to kindle etc. to find out if their book is of any worth. Many novice writers would be reluctant to show it to friends and family first for fear of rebuke. Of course this is only my point of view and not necessarily true. What do others think?

    Like

    Annie said:
    June 30, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Have you checked out Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by R Browne and D King yet? That’s my favourite book on writing. I haven’t read all of Stephen King’s one yet, just a bit of biography section in the first half, though so I can’t yet compare the two. But that’s the one I’d give my friends…

    Like

      jorobinson176 responded:
      July 15, 2013 at 9:09 am

      I’m SO sorry I’m so late replying to this one guys! I never spotted any of these comments in my ‘manage comments’ here – just picked them up catching up on emails now. I agree Carole – maybe some people think of Amazon as a place to be discovered – like a submission to a lot of agents. 😀 I’ll definitely check those out Annie! Even after loads of proof reads the gremlins lurk! I don’t think that trawling through Amazon is the way to find good books now Bev – there’s just too many to trawl through, and with their ranking system, loads of brilliant books are going unseen. It will probably boil down to word of mouth at this rate.

      Like

    ghostbusterbev said:
    July 1, 2013 at 3:15 am

    Great post! With so many books online now, how do you find the good ones?

    Like

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