Most of our readers at BBB know I'm a librarian. I have the opportunity to chose any book I want to read at our library - just as any patron who comes through our doors. Last week I noticed one of my favorite author's book had returned to the shelf. It had been circulating since March and had arrived back in the stacks with no more holds, or folks waiting to read it. I grabbed it and brought it home.
That night I opened the book. It began ... 'It was ...' and things went down hill from there. The first page only had three paragraphs, all which were passive with 'was pulling, was just ...' I gritted my teeth and turned the page to find more of the same. The character 'was waiting,' another character, 'was about to ... and her hair was pulled...' I kept going, page three now. 'Traffic was ...' 'the event was a ...' 'she was involved ...' 'and now it was ...' 'And it was all ...' Two sentence later, 'Now it was ...' 'a crate was on ...'
I closed the book at the end of page three. This author, and so many others, make millions of dollars doing what they love, writing books. This book WAS not ready for publication. Whoever line-edited this thing needs a refresher course on action verbs and how to engage a reader, not disengage them.
If I had sent these three pages to an editor or agent, they would have skimmed over it without pause. It would have ended up in the 'no way,' pile as too amateurish and needs polishing. Instead this book has hit every major book store and library across the nation and beyond.
And so, yes, I'm weary of the double standard we mid-list writers face. Our work has to be perfect before anyone will read it, let alone take a chance on publishing it. Yet, this well known author skimmed through without tightening up the action. If a beginner writer were to read this book, they might think such passive wording acceptable, normal even. And then, they'd wonder why no one was interested in marketing their work.
I've concluded life is not fair. We all know that. I will continue to make my books as polished as I possibly can. It may not make the Best Seller List, but I will be proud of a job well done. I hope my readers race past page three to see what happens next. I pray they keep reading right up to the end and wishing for more.
Til next time ~