This one is going to get me into trouble with a few folks.
I have read a few electronic books that have been converted from printed books. I have noticed that my attention does not focus long on e-readers. There is something missing in the process that I have yet to identify. For certain, reading from an e-reader is about as exciting as surfing the web, that’s not to say that the web doesn’t have something exciting to read, only that it seems more like work. The back lit page of an e-reader glares even after adjusting the tone. The electronic text blurs about the edges after several minutes of reading. Printed books use a specialty paper that reduces glare and makes reading text comfortable.
When choosing an e-book, one never really knows what they are getting. Sure, some e-books allow previews, but most previews are prime reading not general content. When I purchase an electronic book, I choose from titles or authors I already know. I also look for publishers. If the e-book is being offered though a publishing house, not vintage or vanity presses, I tend to trust the content is worth reading. I have only read two vanity pressed paperbacks; both were loaned to me for review by the writer. In the end, the books needed editing and the writers didn’t appreciate my opinion as a reader. That seems to be a common issue with independent writers; they don’t like negative feedback.
Most independent writers, some refer to as Indies, believe they have the talent and the skills to write a book because they have done so. This is not necessarily truth. I have reviewed a few independently published e-books, mostly by request of the writer, and the experience is nothing good. I discovered that most independent writers have good ideas and can write a decent summary of their story. However, of the ones that I have read, the writer lacked the skills and/or training for a professional writer. To say to a writer that they have a good idea, but need to take a few classes in writing or work on their skills, is not a good thing. Don’t say this to an “Indie,” they don’t like hearing it.
Unfortunately, the e-book industry is flooded with writing like this. Millions of good ideas in want of writing skills. I worry that this kind of flood will lower the expectations of up and coming readers. That the professional approach to writing (not including publishing issues here, just writing) will be left in the dust of instant rewards. It may not be entirely the fault of the writer as our “no-thumbs-down” policies on social networks and creative websites tend to force people to say something nice or say nothing at all. That presents a false image to the writer. A little harsh criticism may hurt for the moment, but in the long term it is most helpful. I read a book that was made popular by fan-fiction followers because my daughter purchased the book for me. The print cost her $5.99. I posted a review that was mostly neutral but quite to the point.
This book was purchased for me. I agreed to try reading it. The one thing I could not move past is the First-Person present viewpoint. This viewpoint is rarely used for a reason. Who writes this way? This is not a Twist-a-plot…although I might have found it more entertaining if it were. Neither could I move past the number of technical errors. Too many, seriously. The transitions need attention as they simply aren’t there. The story jumps from point A to point C with no means of getting there. The characters are underdeveloped, two dimensional, flat.
I understand this is fan fiction that started in an online version and was modified for publication. I AM trying to finish the book as someone I love spent money for it. However, I find it seriously boring, slow to start and even slower toward the middle. The story idea is good–if only the writer would have taken some time to learn the trade first. Best advice: don’t purchase it as a gift unless the soul actually requests it. It’s not that good. If you’re a Twilight fan, you might possibly enjoy the connection that the fan fiction presents; if you are not, don’t buy into the hype.
I did finish it, finally. I still do not like it. I don’t agree that it is erotica as it seemed more like a sexual fantasy of a middle-aged, lonely woman.
These words were my opinion, nothing more and nothing less, for which I received a couple of head nods and a landslide of criticism that I was being too harsh on the writer. The comments I received sounded like:
“She’s a new writer, give her a break.”
“Why let a few errors spoil the experience?”
“Haters gonna Hate!” Yeah someone went there.
My bottom line on this issue: my daughter paid for this book. If the book had been free to read, I might have been lighter in comments: “Not bad for fan-fiction.” But it wasn’t free and it wasn’t left as fan-fiction. The writer e-published it, then went on to self-press, and is now charging a greedy amount for the e-book version on B & N. If they story had moved along the traditional route through a publishing house, the mechanical errors, style errors, and basic conflicts of information, would have been weeded out. (This is assuming the book would have been accepted for publication at all, which it likely would not have since it mimicked the work of other, established, writers. Twilight and The Secretary) The story idea wasn’t bad, but the writing was.
There is too much of this bad writing floating on the internet currently. I am not an instructor for a high school creative writing class and I do not want to read stories by writers who are still learning the trade. I am a reader and a collector of books. I have standards and will not compromise those standards because someone thinks they can write. Writing is a trade. Since you aren’t likely to fly an airplane without taking lessons, or wire your home without understanding the dynamics of electricity, why would you write and self-publish your story without learning the trade.
This is my opinion on e-reader vs printed books. It’s only an opinion, feel free to write your own in the comments. Be harsh if you like, I can handle it.