Look inside the book–and close the cover

The other day I was searching on Amazon for a good book to read. I like zombie fiction, and that’s the specific genre I zeroed in on on  this particular day. I found one that looked interesting. Nifty, though a bit crude, cover. Good reviews. An editor listed in the description.

Because I didn’t know the writer’s other work, I followed my usual procedure and clicked “look inside.” I was a bit annoyed by the way the e-book was laid out – reviews, copyright information, table of contents, and so on all at the front, thus cutting down on the amount of actual book text I’d be able to read in my “look inside.”

Then I got down to the text.

I found a grammatical error in the second sentence. I found weak writing (to put it kindly) in the second paragraph, followed by several more examples of poor grammar, bad punctuation, and weak writing in the two or three pages I slogged through.

Did I pick up this book? No. No, I didn’t. Not even at the low-low-low price of free was this book worth it. The story sounded interesting. The writing turned me right off.

Now I have to add that a perfectly grammatical story peopled with cardboard characters and weighted down with a blah or confusing plot will also turn me off. I just can’t detect those flaws in the first two or three pages of the book.

Do you need an editor? Yes. Do you need an editor who’s not afraid to tell you what’s wrong? Also yes. Do you need an editor who knows his/her stuff? So much yes.  Sometimes an editor has to be the Bad Guy and tell her client that a section isn’t working, that a word doesn’t mean what the client thinks it does, that the client is relying on the same word or phrase too much. When we do that, it’s not because enjoy crushing a client’s creativity or voice. It’s because that’s what the client is paying us for: finding those errors before they turn off the readers.

All that said, it’s also true that a lot of readers don’t know the nuances of grammar. That doesn’t mean they won’t know when the meaning of a sentence is unclear. They might not know why they’re uncomfortable, but they’ll know they are. After all, a person doesn’t have to understand music theory or be able to read music to know when someone’s singing off-key.

Indie writers have to be especially careful, I think. Readers are, unfortunately, a lot harder on indie writers than those published by Big New York Publishers. It’s like that old saying, “You have to be twice as good to get half the respect.” Is it fair? No. Will this perception change? Probably. Does that probable change matter now? Nope.


photo credit: gregparis at

A Writer’s Pledge

Writers Code of Honor

I, as a professional writer who values my integrity, do solemnly swear that I shall

  1. Never write my own reviews, nor will I use sock puppets or other methods to falsely present my books as being of superior quality or to promote them over that of others.
  2. Never ask others to like/tag/review my book without reading it simply to ‘support other writers.’
  3. Never ask others to vote for my book without reading it in order to get a positive review or vote in order to have my book selected by an agent or publisher over that of other qualified writers.
  4. Never ask others to give another writer bad reviews in order to make my book appear better than that writer.
  5. Never attack a reviewer over a review for any reason. Negative reviews happen.
  6. Never use another’s post in order to promote my own book.
  7. Not advertise my books on sites that do not allow it, nor will I spam (advertise) endlessly. One post per day per site should be enough.
  8. Always read the rules on every site, and respect those rules as they have been laid out, without looking for loopholes.
  9. Agree to always treat other authors with respect and act in a professional manner.
    Mary Ann Peden-Coviello

* * * * * *


My own comment here: It’s rather a shame that other writers and I feel the need to state this so baldly. Every one of these points –- and every one is important – should be self-evident, fundamental, and not up for discussion.

But here it is. I think it’s a thoughtful pledge, not burdensome, not difficult to fulfill, not self-righteous. It could be summed up in the words said long ago and more honoured in the breach than in the observance since then: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Alexandria Publishing Group

There’s a new face in the publishing neighbourhood, Alexandria Publishing Group. It’s a collective or collaboration among several independent (or indie) writers, editors, cover artists, and formatters — all dedicated to publishing the very best books possible. We work in several genres, too, ranging from fantasy (historical fantasy to dark to epic), romance, literary, suspense, action, horror, satire. It’s probably easier to state what we don’t include — and that would be badly-written, unedited, sloppy, or wince-worthy.

In short, if you see the all-seeing eye of the Alexandria Publishing Group logo on a book, you are assured of a quality book. Now does this mean you are going to love every book with that logo? Possibly . . . but maybe not. After all, look at the genres covered. A romance reader might or might not be interested in a horror novel and vice-versa.  At least, this will give you the same sort of starting point, I think, that other sorts of brand names can give you.

As part of the APG launch, we have giveaways! Prizes! Yay! Free eBooks. Free formatting– which, if you’re a writer, is a huge prize. A free 30-page edit of your work. Amazon gift cards. Free webhosting. And more. Go here and enter.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway