By Sandra Valente
Junying asked me to write a guest post for her a few weeks ago, but it’s been hectic. When isn’t it really? Although I have put a guest post together, I’ve completely walked off that particular subject path (South Africa), and headed in the opposite direction! So, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Junying for putting up with me and as usual, just going with the flow. A kinder person you could not meet.
First, a little about me. As I can’t call it an ‘author bio’, I’ll go with reader/blogger bio.
Sandra lives in South Africa with her husband of 22 years (they met when they were both two), son and two dogs. She has a ferocious passion for reading and coffee, and is against women/child abuse and animal cruelty. Sandra runs a book blog where she shares her passion for books. She’s finally found an outlet, said blog, SSBookFanatics (although the blog’s name will be changing soon) where she is able to share reviews, interviews, promote Indie authors and their books including taking part in blog tours and sharing guest posts when time allows. Running her blog puts her in her element, but meeting a handful of authors who have become special friends is the icing on the cake.
She prides herself in not only being a mother and wife, but a teacher, hairdresser, taxi driver, cook, psychologist, nurse, negotiator (the typical female role) and also a bit ‘good’ crazy. She loves soppy movies and chick flicks. Family, friends, music and reading are all food for her soul – including food! To prove her ‘good’ crazy she’s willing to share the following photo whilst at a kitchen tea. The theme was ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and all guests were tasked with making their own hats. Last but not least, Sandra constantly changes hair colour: between blonde and brunette – makes life that much more interesting.
All I really aim to do is share one or two thoughts/tips in the hope that not only are they constructive, but help someone in some way. This guest post will be done in two parts as it is fairly longish (where posts are concerned), however, they will be posted one after the other. Please check back during the week for part two.
Now, I’m not an author but I am an avid reader – really a coffee drinking book obsessed nut – who happens to be quite capable of finding her way around the English language. This doesn’t make me all-knowing, and I’m not perfect either. I do know that when I’m not sure about something, I ask. It is how I, we, all (hopefully) learn.
Just so you know, English isn’t my first language as I’m Portuguese, but I’ve lived in South Africa since the age of ten and due to this obsession with reading – I believe – has made me pay more attention to detail, or rather words and spelling. By saying that I’m not an author simply means that I have not written a book or published one… yet. In this day and age, anyone can write a book and publish it in the blink of an eye. Technology is amazing, but then so are institutions such as Amazon,
Smashwords and so on who provide outlets for those who either haven’t been fortunate enough to be picked up by a publishing house, or for those who simply don’t want anything to do with a publishing house. According to some, signing a deal only results in signing away most of your rights/life. I know of one author who is and has done extremely well, is self-published and adamantly refuses to sign over her hard work for someone else to do with as they see fit. She also admits that this way she can damn well write what she pleases.
I am, however, the author of my blog posts. Sounds silly, I know, but I take them very seriously. When I write/type up a review, it’s never, ever just something I bash out on my keyboard. I’m not looking to have a review up every single day for the sake of saying, ‘Look at how brilliant I am; I can do these in my sleep.’ Nope, that’s definitely not me. I take my time, because I want to mean what I say and quite honestly, I say what I mean – always in a kind way and always as close to perfect as I am able to make them.
With that said, I have edited and worked on two books (yes, for real); with a third coming my way soon and I can’t wait! I have also beta/proofread for a NYT bestselling author. Not shabby for someone who spends her life – most of it anyway – reading. I can’t be that bad… I think. I guess this is why I pick up on certain things and it seems to be an emerging pattern. It’s hard though, I know. Eyes are deceiving little buggers, sneaky to boot and make you either miss something that IS there, or read something (in other words, fill in words) that are NOT there. It’s happened to me, still happens to me and I know it’s happened to you. So, without further ado, here are some of my tips regarding issues I pick up when reading, especially with self-published books. I must mention at this point that there are loads of people who are ‘editors’ by profession and authors, or so they claim yet when I read their blog posts, book blurbs and even excerpts, I am left slightly stunned. Again, nobody is perfect, but please check your own work. There is nothing worse than being interested in a book, visiting the author’s site – all excited mind you – and what I read there is sometimes really bad, so bad it totally puts me off buying their book. I’m not the only one who feels this way, trust me. It doesn’t matter that you are only doing a blog post, be professional in all aspects of social media. Also, bear in mind that I am not pointing a finger at anyone in particular because I’ll have four pointing right back at me, but as I am a staunch supporter of Indie authors, I always want to help where I can.
Something interesting I’ve done on a few occasions was e-mail an author and shared with them things that were either out of context, not consistent or incorrectly spelt in their book. This may surprise you, but not once have I been told to take a flying leap off a tall building. In one case, an author was shocked. Why? Not one single person mentioned anything to her in this regard. Here too, I was thanked. Of course, now that I’ve said I’ve had nothing but positive responses back, I have gone and jinxed it and next time I do e-mail someone… I will be told to take that flying leap off a tall building! That’s okay; I can take the good with the bad. What pleases me, though, is that most authors are appreciative which only shows me (the reader) that they do want to perfect their books as much as possible, and are willing to go that extra mile not only for themselves but for their readers. You can’t ask for more. Remember: much haste, less speed. This will only result in disappointment and will affect book sales.
Before I end ‘part one’, I will leave you with something to think about: I cannot tell you how many times I have received a book review request where the e-mail from the author is so badly written, I go back and read it again just in case I read it wrong the first time around. You want to pique their interest, not put them off. Readers who are impressed with your first communication – your e-mail – will want to read your book. Although most will only accept genres they prefer, but that could be your chosen genre. It’s much the same as going for a job interview. I doubt very much you’d walk into an office looking like you were dragged through a bush backwards. Be friendly, I personally prefer the laid back type of person, but everyone appreciates professionalism at the same time.