From Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris:
When you’re confined to a hospital bed for several months the way I was last summer, you read a lot of books. During my 2+ months of medical incarceration, I read pretty much everything loaded onto my trusty old Kindle (over 200 titles.)
Often I didn’t remember how the books got there. I’d just start reading where Amazon plunked me down.
But it’s amazing how soon I could tell a book was an amateur effort. Sometimes I stuck around to read the rest of the book for story, but often I just clicked away.
Do note: I think it’s important to make a distinction between an amateur self-published book and one from a professional indie author. Few people can tell the difference between a book self-published by a pro and one from a traditional publishing house.
But amateurs tend to fly some red flags early on to let the reader know they’re kind of winging the whole publishing thing.
1) Titles: Generic Titles Can Scream “Amateur Self-Published Book.”
An author who chooses a generic title like Finding Myself, or Love and Marriage, or one all-encompassing word like Change, Grief, or Hope is signaling a lack of focus. (As well as a lousy imagination.)
Generic titles also don’t give the reader enough information as to what the book is about.
Yes, I know there’s a novel called War and Peace that hasn’t done too badly in the sales department. And there is a spectacular comic novel called Life, the Universe and Everything. But if you’re not Leo Tolstoy or Douglas Adams, don’t attempt such a huge undertaking.
. . . .
2) Clunky Storytelling (Although it Shows up in Trad-Pubbed Books Too.)
I used to say I could always tell an amateur book by the saggy middle or lack of focus, but after reading those 200 books on my Kindle, I realized clunky storytelling happens everywhere.
However, I did see it more often in amateur books. Constant flashbacks and relentless exposition were the two most common problems that kept me from reading on.
But the worst cause of clunky storytelling I found was the protagonist who didn’t have specific goals and sort of floated through the story rather than driving it forward. Books with goal-less protagonists often can read like a series of vignettes rather than a coherent story.
Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris