At BookLocker, I receive and review book manuscripts every single day from the U.S. and all over the world. I can usually tell within the first paragraph or two if the author can string words together in a cohesive, intelligible, and, when required, entertaining manner. Of course, this doesn’t mean those authors can carry an entire story from one chapter to another. In this context, I’m strictly talking about basic writing skills.
Yes, after reading just one or two paragraphs, I can determine if an author can write, or if they can’t. After reviewing thousands of manuscripts over the past 18 years, it’s not difficult. If the two random paragraphs I choose to read first are well-written, I’ll keep reading. If those two paragraphs are poorly written, or are otherwise unintelligible (see examples at the link below), I may stop reading right then, and send a rejection. I’m very busy and I don’t have time to read entire chapters of poor writing when I know I’ll be rejecting the manuscript anyway.
The majority of authors’ work that I see generally fall into one of four categories. Depending on which category the work falls into, I will accept, reconsider at a later date, or outright reject it:
GREAT WRITING WITH VERY FEW OR NO NOTICEABLE ERRORS
We receive really good manuscripts all the time! Authors shouldn’t avoid BookLocker just because they fear rejection. The best authors are their own most stringent critics. They also have some modesty (are humble, not big-headed), are professional, and friendly. THOSE are the authors we’re looking for! We prefer not to work with narcissists . We say it right on the “Reasons Not To Work With Us ” section on our website – “We, unfortunately, don’t work with jerks. If you are a jerk, you’d be better served by one of our competitors.”
Over the years, we’ve found that statement only offends jerks. People who AREN’T jerks love it!
Basically, if you’re a good writer, are a nice person, are professional, and if you want to sell books, please contact me! You’re our favorite kind of author!
GOOD WRITING WITH A FEW ERRORS
Some authors submit great writing with a few punctuation errors and typos. I will alert them that their manuscript needs some work, but that we’re still interested.
GOOD WRITING WITH NUMEROUS ERRORS (AN EMBARRASSING AMOUNT)
There are some authors who write well, but who have numerous, repeating errors that tell me they really weren’t paying attention in school…but they can still convey a meaningful and understandable message, or tell a good tale. Missing punctuation, run-on sentences, repeated misuse of common words (i.e. lightning vs. lightening, its vs. it’s), etc.
It’s clear that these authors will not be able to self-edit their manuscript because they do not have the education or experience required in order to recognize errors in writing, especially in their own. I tell these folks that I will only review their manuscript again in the future if they have it professionally edited. Self-editing isn’t acceptable in these cases because they don’t have the knowledge to do it correctly. If they then ask for more information, I send them a list of great freelance editors so they can get quotes. (We make no money whatsoever for referring authors to those editors)
WRITING SO BAD THEY SHOULD REALLY JUST GIVE UP ANY DREAM OF BEING AN AUTHOR
It’s sad but it’s so true. There are some folks who write so poorly, and who are obviously so uneducated, that, unless they go back and start all over in elementary school, they will never be a successful, professional writer. For some examples, look HERE . I send these “authors” a simple rejection letter, telling them we’re not interested. I don’t refer them to anyone else and I don’t encourage them to keep trying. (Unfortunately, many of our competitors DO take money from these authors, and put those bad books on the market, which can lead to a ton of embarrassment for the “author.” Sadly, most of our competitors don’t seem to care about their own reputations either.)
If I was truly honest, and told them to give up the craft, or to go to back to school (some of these folks literally need to start all over at the Kindergarten level), I would be harassed for eternity. Most people simply can’t accept or comprehend the truth and, no matter how reasonable or gentle your message to them is, they will never believe it and they will hate you for delivering it. They may even try to destroy your reputation online through libelous, anonymous posts.
I really never know how someone is going to react to rejection. One author I rejected years ago threatened to commit suicide. Others have flown into a rage, lashing out with ridiculous accusations and threats, all because I refused to take money from them, and refused to put a really bad book on the market. I learned long ago that some people simply have no backbone. Rather than risk an ongoing feud caused by a detailed, honest rejection, a generic “no thank you” is safer for the publisher, and is more palatable for the “author.”
If someone asks me for an honest opinion of their writing, I’ll give it to them. But, even some of those folks get hostile after I do exactly as they asked. Please don’t think I’m offering to review anybody and everybody’s writing. I don’t have time to do that. I only give honest feedback on request to manuscripts submitted to BookLocker. I wish I could offer a free writing critique service to all but, with running the business, writing my own books, and caring for our family, I just don’t have the time.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE