The last 3 books I've tried to read have had some serious issues...

I understand that many self published authors have little to no budget for editing and proofing. Many people try to edit their own manuscripts. As you can imagine, editing your own work isn't a great practice. How do you know if you wrote some absolute shit? How can you be sure that you catch every typo and grammatical mistake? I am by no means a flawless editor or writer, but some of these will make you shake your head.

Here are a few examples of things I've read in the past few days. Some of these sentences are worse than others, but all of them should have been flagged by an editor. 

Sentence 1: "Dirt coated the skirts, revealing the age and abuse that this building had survived through."

Where do I begin? Firstly, survived is redundant with through. You could simply chop the last word off and be ok as far as that error is concerned. The second issue with the sentence is one I find in a ton of self published works. The word "this" should be saved for textbooks. It hijacks the reader's attention away from the vivid imagery and reminds them that they are reading a book. I'll probably rant more on that later.

Sentence 2: "He wanted to dip down below and meet this man, ask him several questions."

Not surprisingly, sentence 2 comes from the same book as sentence 1, only a paragraph later. When I was reading, I resolved to keep going after the first glaring sentence, but gave up after the second. Again, "this" could easily be changed to "the" and some sort of connector needs to replace that comma. Perhaps, "He wanted to dive down and meet the man. Maybe he could ask him a few questions."

Sentence 3: "She decided to definitely not mention [character], because any mentions of her always upset [character], and [character] was still considering what to think about what [character] had said."

I took out the character names to somewhat hide the book. A few good rules to follow are such: if a sentences takes longer than 1 breath to read aloud, cut it down. Also, don't repeat large words within the same paragraph, much less the same sentence. Those rules aside, a few other things bother me about this line. Considering what to think about -- so... she is contemplating HOW to contemplate something else? What?

Sentence 4: "As a child, [character] was told about the Bogeyman. It's a fictional monster or entity that laid under the bed. An imaginary creature used by parents to frighten children - to teach them not to suck their thumbs, and generally to deviate from bad behavior."

First of all, you don't need to explain urban legends. You especially don't need to explain the Bogeyman. Saying "monster or entity" is useless. If you really want to make the point that the Bogeyman might not be a *monster*, just say that. Otherwise, you are wasting words. The second half of the section has a redundancy issue as well. Deviating from bad behavior includes thumb sucking. Plus, as mentioned before, you don't need to explain the origins of urban legends! Also, saying that the Boogeyman lays under the bed isn't nearly vivid enough. Unless this is children's horror, that monster needs to lurk. Maybe prowl. Perhaps he could hunt under the bed. Anything except lay there and chill out.


Let's talk about the word this. I performed a few searches on very successful eBooks (I have their pdfs) to see if perhaps I am the only person on Earth who hates the word this. It seems that I'm not alone. Outside of dialogue, several famous fantasy novels don't use it a single time. Sci-fi has the same results. I tested a few others and found the word only once outside dialogue, and it was used appropriately. When I see the word, it jars me. It takes me out of the moment. It makes me instantly hate the author for derailing my journey. In almost every single case, the word can easily be changed to the.


In closing, my advice is to hire a professional editor. Can't afford the $200+ it might cost? Don't publish until you can afford it. Releasing something with glaring mistakes will only make potential readers hate your work and never support you in the future, no matter how skilled you become.  Sacrifice up front and reap the rewards later.