Wyrd Calling, by Shen Hart (10:49)

IOD-WyrdCallingToday we see that author-publishers are accountable for layout as well as grammar. That’s what the “publisher” part of the job title is all about.

What I gleaned about the story: Some kind of underworld drug buy goes wrong, except it’s contraband magic instead of drugs, and the people involved aren’t people. At least, not the human kind.

Find this book on Amazon.

Note: Fabulous cover layout, although the crow is easy to miss, and without it, the scene slips into plain urban, or possibly noir, rather than urban fantasy.

Technical Note: The ebook file is 800K in size, and as I’ve said before, if the book isn’t illustrated or packed with custom fonts or media, it shouldn’t be any more than 500K. At 800K it isn’t a monster, but it could easily go on a diet. And in fact, when I let Calibre auto-convert it, the resulting EPUB file was only 240K.

WTF #1: Echoing headwords

Analysis: The first and second paragraphs echo on “I” and they veer fairly close to galloping I disease, too, but then it eases up.

WTF #2: Indentation problems

Analysis: There’s a very distracting issue going on in the layout. It happens on the second page, and then again on the third. The paragraph beginning “I smirked and took my time” has a noticeably different indentation, and it happens again on the next page, with the sentence headed with, “I gritted my teeth.”

What was different about the indentation? Well, that depends on which e-reader you use. In my case, the indent was entirely missing. Which means that while most paragraphs were properly indented, several at random were fully left justified. And brother, that kind of layout glitch gets your attention like a lamprey on your face. It didn’t make the file unreadable, but it was a total immersion buster the first time I hit it. If it had only happened the one time, I might have let it slide, but it happened again on the next page too, which made it a pattern, so then I jumped ahead to see if it continued on every page ahead. Fortunately, I didn’t see any more of them, but even so, immersion had clearly broken.

But it’s possible that most people won’t see this problem the way I did, because I do my IOD reading on the Calibre ebook viewer. (It’s one of the only reader programs that will render both EPUB and Kindle files.) So to be sure it wasn’t just a Calibre glitch, I checked it in my Kindle for PC and and then on my Kindle for Android too. In those readers, the problem wasn’t as severe, but those two paragraphs still had abnormally narrow indents. About half the width, which is enough to call attention to it and make the reader wonder why those paragraphs are done differently. And a reader scratching his head over layout issues is not immersed.

WTF #3: More headword issues

Analysis: The second chapter opens with three consecutive “I”-headed paragraphs, and the galloping I disease is getting hard to ignore.

Note: This is shaping up to be a good yarn, but the echo chamber effect kept throwing me out. If not for that one recurring issue, I might have gone a lot farther.

Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Download one of these free short stories, in the format of your choice, and decide for yourself.

Warrior's Scar, by Shawn Jones (13:03)
Harbinger, by Stephen Arseneault (2:56)

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 underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.