Book Reviews (a subject dear to all of our hearts!)

Those of you who follow my blog, and especially my tweets, know that I’ve been extremely ill this winter. It comes with the territory, unfortunately, when you have SLE–Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. I’ve been dealing with this over 20 years so I know what to do, which means becoming a recluse for the winter! But it does give me time to do something very important, which is review other authors’ works.

I’ve reviewed about 7 books in the past two weeks and really found some gems, including one diamond! “It Really IS Rocket Science!” by BH Branham. Also, anything by Donna Zadunajsky is really worth the read. For children, I strongly recommend, “Sam, The Super Kitty” by M. Lovato! It’s just adorable.

I haven’t been totally idle with my own writing, but it is hard to make sense when your fever’s 103–lol. I’ve written five chapters for the next novella in the Denny Ryder Paranormal Crime Series, STROKE OF SILENCE! It should be on amazon.com in March 2014. I want to take this opportunity, again, to thank those of you who reviewed my Denny Ryder Series and even the reviewer who was brave enough (Donna, my friend) to get through all 400 pages of LIVING IN A SHADAW, my full-length, mature-adult novel.

I’ll put in my own 2 cents about reviews, which I covered much more seriously in a previous blog that might be worth taking a look at: I purchase/buy eBooks that I review . . . after all, we’re all writers because we have to be, whether anyone else reads it or not, but we are also trying to make a living, so I don’t ask for freebies.

eBooks are inexpensive, especially for the author first starting out, so it’s not going to break the budget. Reviewing on a Kindle or e-reader allows you to highlight, make notes, refer back, and in my case, since I’ve been an editor for 30+ years, mark the errors. I just want to say finding a good editor or proofreader is essential to a good manuscript. If there are so many typos, errors, spelling/grammar mistakes (and spell-check and grammar-check aren’t human; they can create more problems than they solve–so I suggest you don’t rely on them!) that the book is unreadable, no matter how good the theme or plot, you loose your reader before you have a chance to make any kind of impression as an author.

This being said, I say in all kindness, that you can’t proofread your own stuff. I’ve been in the technical (scientific/government) side of this business . . . forevah! And I can’t edit, proofread my own stuff . . . no matter how “cold” I let it get. When you write/create something, little beknownst to you, the words become ingrained in your mind. When you read it for errors, you read right over them because your brain “sees” what it has unconsciously memorized. It’s really very medical that you can’t read your own stuff!

Your best friend is not your best proofreader. Sometimes they’re so excited over the fact that you’re an author, “they” read right through the errors, or they’re afraid to mention them and upset you OR they aren’t equipped with the skills a proofreader must have . . . good grammar, good spelling, and an eye to catch “glitches” in the story line: names change, scenes are referred to but are somehow different, or things don’t add up: 2 + 2 = 3 or 2 + 2 = 5. I’m sure you get my point. Family members can be prejudiced either “for” or “against” your writing (“Anything my child/brother/sister/aunt/uncle writes is wonderful!” or “Please, just get a job all ready.”)

A couple of tricks for proofreading, if you’re forced to read your own stuff, is put it on your Kindle Fire in reverse: white copy on black background. I found this quite by accident. I read in black background at night while my husband sleeps beside me. The Kindle Fire (only) is not near as bright this way. But all the sudden, errors started popping out at me! Unfortunately, not all of them.

An even better way, again found by accident, is let the Kindle Fire “read” to you. My eyes were almost swollen shut with this flu/pneumonia/whatever? so for the first time ever, I put on the text-to-speech function. When a mechanical voice (not bad on the newer versions of the Kindle) says the wrong word that doesn’t make sense or can’t pronounce a misspelling or the grammar is wrong where you didn’t do it purposely because your character’s voice doesn’t speak that way . . . well, there’s a problem and when you look back at it, you find it!

I hope these little ‘tricks of the trade’ help all of you out there honing your craft!

In conclusion, I just want to say, “Be honest it your reviews,” but most of all, authors need to support each other. After all, “Writers are readers!” (my own quote). It really doesn’t help a poor book in a genre to plant negative reviews in the same genre by a different author (or a book that has similar keywords), and it doesn’t help an author needing an editor, proofreader, another pair of eyes to give them rave reviews that are “puffed up,” so to speak.

This is my 2 cents on reviews and proofreading. Best wishes to your all!

Deborah A. Bowman, author

6 thoughts on “Book Reviews (a subject dear to all of our hearts!)

  1. Excellent pointers for self-editing. Reading aloud leads to catching errors the eye skips over. An good outside editor will catch all the grammatical and spelling errors and is able to spot places that need shoring up or eliminating for better reading and make suggestions. I have many years experience doing just that. If you would like to check out my service, it is TheEnglishProfessor.net Right now, I’m editing two novels and enjoying every minute of it.

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  2. I find errors like that, using the Kindle app and the reverse background feature, but not all of them. I now have someone to help me out with my proofing and editing. There’s not much for her to correct with my stuff, but I get what you are saying about brain skipping errors. Mine does it more frequently in recent months. Used to not happen much. I guess i am more human now. lol

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    1. As I get older, I miss more errors, too! lol But I’m old school and I still do better with paper and red pencils. Glad to hear you have honed your craft and don’t have many errors. It’s unbelievable the number of manuscripts out there that are unreadable!

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      1. Somehow, I end up proofreading, editing, or what I’m doing now–ghost writing–business books! The one I’m doing now is intriguing and challenging, but I’d rather be writing my own fiction or proofreading or reviewing novels, as I’m sure you can tell. We are following each other. When I need “another pair of eyes” and editing/proofing, I’ll contact you. I’ll check out your site for your rates. Thanks!

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  3. The subject of reviews and who to ask, how to ask, is an ongoing dilemma. Going to do a little more research myself and try to give some more pointers today. Thanks to all who shared their suggestions and thoughts on proofreading.

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