This is a little ranty...I'm not sorry.
I'm sort of inundated with books to review right now (two for a magazine, two for a website, and another one on the way, plus I still want to review Furiously Happy in a more meaningful way)...which is why I've been all incognito-like on my own blog. It's a sad thing, but I haven't had much funny this month with all the extra work.
Today, I submitted the review for THE BOOK. The most horrible thing I've read in quite some time.
Sigh. I actually told the editor to feel free to ask me to revise the review if I was too harsh, and that's after I spent more time revising a 400 word piece than I really should considering the time/pay ratio.
I may be a totally judgmental asshole here. I'm not against self-publication. Hell, I'm considering it as a possible path toward my own authorship. But for all that is holy AND unholy, if you choose to go to the trouble of formatting your work correctly, finding cover art, digging up an ISBN, and self-publishing it...HIRE A GODDAMNED EDITOR. At the very least, have a couple beta readers who aren't related to you and have no sexual or parental relationship stumbling blocks preventing them from telling you the truth. Seriously, it doesn't require sacrificing a goat or your firstborn (um, if it does, you may want to review other editorial ads out there...MOST editors and proofreaders just want money, not souls)...just accepting that writing is a process and someone needs to give you the truth.
If you cannot write a sex scene, I totally get it. Too embarrassed, not sure how to write it without being either prudish or porny, firmly believe sex should be private, your church/parents/children/boss might read it, whatever. I don't care WHY you can't write it: all those reasons are totally valid. But if you can't, don't try to gloss over it by saying stupid shit like "and they did what came naturally."
Breaking the fourth wall and addressing the reader directly is really fucking hard to do successfully. I can't do it, and I don't know of many authors who can. Don't wink at your readers (no, really, DO NOT TYPE "WINK WINK" at your readers).
None of that made it into my review, because I totally get that this was a passion project for the author and I don't want to rip it all apart publicly. I actually think the bare bones of the story were pretty good: she just needed better tools to help revisions...because I felt like I was reading a first draft with notes to herself instead of an actual book.
And so I might be a total jerk who has to redo another version before the review gets into the magazine. In the meantime, I get to write about Vikings (the people, not the purple), and Carthage, and sex in the Roman world.
And that's just a fucking awesome lineup to wash the taste of bad writing out of my brain.