Warrior’s Embrace, by Jodi Zeitler (3:08)

IOD-WarriorsEmbraceToday we see that if the author-publisher releases a sloppy product, readers get cranky.

What I gleaned about the story: Two ancient fighters of some kind are reunited after centuries apart. They kill a demon-thing on Page 1. Not sure what happens next.

Find this book on Amazon.

WTF #1: Quality control is your responsibility 

Analysis: The file is randomly littered with floating numbers between the paragraphs. They’re small numbers, going up, so I can only assume that they’re page numbers from a file conversion that went bad, but it should have been checked. Also, for some reason, all the apostrophes have been replaced with left double-quotes. The entire file is double spaced, with no blank line or indentation to mark the beginning of paragraphs. From a typographic perspective, it is almost illegible.

If I had paid money for it, I would have returned it immediately. But that’s only one WTF, so I pushed on.

WTF #2: Declarative sentences on parade

Analysis: It did this. It did that. He did this. She did that. There are a few sentences that deviate from this default template, but not many. It gives the narrative a trudging monotony, and that’s exactly the opposite of what it should feel like, since the scene in question was a fight scene. The fight itself was weakly rendered, with one sword swipe that brought down the demon, followed by a hand-through-the-ribcage-thrust to rip out its heart. Yet for some reason, the hero still grumbles about how “you demons don’t give up do you?” I found myself wishing I’d seen the fight he was talking about, because it sounded much more exciting than the fight I was actually shown. And when the narration seems to be at odds with the dialogue, I can’t help but pop out of whatever immersion bubble I might have formed.

WTF #3: Kantos couldn‟t believe how much of a man Drake had turned into. Hell, he was almost as tall as himself now, and he was a giant with his 6‟5 height.

Analysis: [The errant double quotes are as they appeared in the text.] So, Drake was almost as tall as himself, was he? Isn’t everybody? Clearly the author meant that Drake and Kantos were nearly the same height, but with the awkwardly constructed sentence, it’s difficult to tell which “he” or “himself” is being referred to. Unfortunately, this kind of inelegant prose is common in the short section I read. And when combined with the repetitive sentence structure, the prose was very hard for me to stay focused on, and I popped out of immersion numerous times.

Note: In my opinion, the author-publisher in this case is too green, in too many areas, to be charging money for her work yet. It simply isn’t ready. Not in terms of the prose, nor in terms of the book’s technical construction either. The story being told might be a good one, but who knows? Because these other problems prevented me from getting through even the first scene, so I didn’t really find out much about what the story actually is.

Now, I understand that not all writers are technologically sophisticated enough to assemble a high-quality book product on their own, but this does not absolve them of the responsibility. If you can do it yourself, fine, but if not, you still need to make sure that whoever does it for you does a decent job, and clearly, nobody even opened this EPUB file after it was converted.

Making the choice to self publish should not be seen by authors as the easy way to get their work in front of readers – it should be seen as the hard way. Because in addition to writing the damned thing, the author is also undertaking to replace all the functions of a publisher as well: design, editing, marketing, sales, and so on. But too many of us enter this market without taking full ownership of what that commitment actually entails. And as a result, indie publishing is drowning under a reputation for shoddiness and haste. It’s one thing to be inexperienced and still learning the ropes, but it’s an entirely other thing to be charging readers money while you learn. That’s the part that gets us the bad rep.

Shard Knight, by Matthew Ballard (8:02)
Senlin Ascends, by Josiah Bancroft (10:00)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is uniquely unqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.