Many writers refer to manuals of style like The Chicago Manual of Style, Associated Press guide, Elements of Style, and more plus genre specific manuals available in bookstores and e-retailers.

Some indie authors feel there should be no rules for writing; I disagree with the no rules position.

There should be rules like the following:

  • Spelling
  • Typos
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Consistency
  • Verbs
  • Adjectives
  • Active vs. Passive
  • Deep POV (Point of View)

As an avid reader, I prefer reading a story in which I can feel a part of and feel empathy for the characters, the characters are believable as well as the dialogue, setting and facts. I get bored hen there are numerous errors, awkward sentences, the writing is wordy, and other incongruities that may arise. Any book that appears to have skipped steps in the publishing process also bores me.

What is the publishing process?

  • Acquisition – This is the stage where an acquisitions editor reads the manuscript submitted by an author, or literary agent for possible publication.
  • Editorial – If the manuscript is accepted, this is the point where authors receive requests to work on improving the manuscript before publication.
  • Design – This is where the cover, format, and proofreading are accomplished.
  • Sales and marketing stage – This is where the editing of cover art, or chapters is completed.
  • Printing or Print On Demand – This is the pre-press proof period before final printing.
  • Distribution – This stage gets the book into the hands of readers, or in digital format for readers like the iPad, Kindle, Nook, and others.

If there are no rules in writing, it is hard to get past the gatekeeper (Acquisitions Editor), or get your book published. If you choose to self-publish your book, you are allowing the possibility of the reader receiving less than stellar work, and the chance that readers will not accept your next book.

As a reviewer, receiving a book to review which needs editing, is hard to read, and doesn’t engage the reader should not receive a high recommendation as a must read, or higher than average rating if the reviewer is doing their job properly. Not every single book should receive a five star rating. If every book published receives a five star rating, unless the book is well above average, then the ratings are useless.

When writing a review, if the book receives a five star rating, it’s because there is something special about the book, it’s been worked over to be the best it can be, and isn’t rife with errors that weren’t caught in the editing stage. Having reviewed over 100 books in a period of six years, most books only receive four stars; there have been some a five star rating because books worth five stars are well above the average book received for review.

I believe readers demand a good book for their money and time to download an e-book. It’s their right to have the best book possible for them to read. This means certain rules in the publishing process need adherence, especially the editing and proofreading.

The final responsibility for any book rests squarely on the shoulders of the author and no one else. The book belongs to the author, and so does any errors.

There are those who may disagree with me, but I have probably been reading longer than many writers have been alive. Yes, I may be old school, but I am a demanding reader and reviewer.

Robert Medak

Freelance Writer, Blogger, Editor, Reviewer