I’ve been reading a lot of books by up and coming authors recently and have noticed a trend. They offer the first book for free, hoping to pull the reader in and subsequently buy the following five books in the series. Nothing wrong with this if you like books that come in numerous parts rather than one single book (I’ve explained my views on this in the last post). Yet I’ve noticed another trend amongst new authors, one that’s quite worrying.
Have you ever read a book thinking it has a great storyline only to be lambasted with incorrect spelling and grammar? Mistakes that are critical not only because they are made by an adult, but because the content is also to be read by an adult.
I absolutely HATE when I read a book littered with spelling and grammatical errors. Something so simple and basic such as putting a comma in the correct place, or even using one, can change the meaning of a sentence which, in turn, puts me right off. Now, I’m not talking about the author who had one typo on one page of a 340-page novel. I’m referring to the author who, somehow, confused ‘discuss’ with ‘disgust’. The author who thought it was ok to spell ‘sensing’ as ‘censing’. The author who wrote about the ‘dough eyes’ of a female character instead of her ‘doe eyes’. The author who believed her serial killer protagonist was ‘roofless’ rather than ‘ruthless’. A murderer without a roof? Oh come on. I actually stopped reading the novel that featured the ‘roofless’ killer as I found it difficult to comprehend such slackness.
Though I may have enjoyed a few of these free books, I have chosen not to review them based on the fact that their stories have far too many inconsistencies or errors. I will not name the titles of these books or the authors as it is not my intention to name and shame. However, I believe it is important to highlight that if you are someone who wants to share your written craft with the world then it is imperative that you are on point with grammar, spelling and consistency.
The expanding trade of urban literature has seen plenty of black writers sharing their talents and even more black people picking up a book. Gritty tales of the gangster lifestyle and thug love have encouraged many to indulge in stories that were once inaccessible and while some may argue against the content of urban literature, others applaud the fact that a growing number of black adults are actually reading.
It is for these reasons that new authors need to invest in real editors rather than friends and relatives. We need to encourage more people to read and give solid reasons as to why the urban lit genre should exist. It’s not enough to have a story if it is not going to be executed properly and continuing to make the same lazy mistakes will only support those against the existence of the genre.
My advice to anyone who wishes to be an author is to take some adult English classes in your free time, and arm yourself with a dictionary, thesaurus and a couple of books specialising in spelling, grammar and punctuation. The books will not be free like your first novel but if you want readers to invest in your craft, you have to invest in it first.