Artz on Books: Should Self-Publishing Exist? (A Review of Origins by S.E. Meyer)

As part of my attempt to make the most out of my new kindle, I checked out a site that presented a list of the best free kindle books. I’d always been unsure about free fiction, but with help from the site I chose a book that had promise: Origins by S.E Meyer. A quick amazon search revealed the book was also available in paperback for £8.99. This raised my hopes and I decided to go for it. Never did I think it would make me wonder of the true benefits of self-publishing.

But more on that later, first off I have a new book and I’m raring to go. The story follows John Mitchell: a man who accidentally injects himself with a serum and discovers he had new abilities. Right. First off, never call a character John. Sorry you John’s out there, but it is such a boring name for a character. A lot of characters called John are usually known by a nickname because even they know you don’t call yourself John. But I digress. If I’m fair, the idea does have promise for an action-mystery. But the author just doesn’t justify the world. There is so much going on and it feels like the magic is tagged on. For example one of the early experiences of magic in this world is seen when some miners discover a hidden pyramid with treasures inside. The miner’s boss comes down, takes one small important item, and says the miners can have the rest. But last minute, he spins round, waves his hand and trucks go flying. Feels very filmic, don’t you think? It’s tired and doesn’t inspire mystery. I don’t really care why this guy has powers because I’ve seen it before.

Regardless of the plot, the writing is awful. Every rule I have learned on my writing course has been broken here. Character’s speech is followed by ‘he said happily’, the character talks to himself to show exposition, the exposition is awful, dialogue isn’t realistic, there are spelling errors, there are repeating/irrelevant sentences. Literally every error you can think of, this book has it somewhere. I’m wondering ‘how could any editor let this slip?’ This inspired another google search. Who actually published the paperback that cost £8.99? My results showed createspace.com whose tag line is ‘publish words, your way’. Ah, self-published.

Now, as a writer myself I know how exciting the idea of self-publishing can be. The publishing industry is very sales based and not all good writing can get a place on the shelves. So self-publishing is a way to allow writers to get their writing out there. But then we get books like Origins. I sure can’t edit my own work and S.E.Meyer can’t either. Writers need that editing process for their work, or you get sloppy writing. You get writers like S.E.Meyer, who may take the time to use their historical knowledge to ‘reveal what is already hiding in plain sight’, yet they don’t bother to research their settings and say British police have captains and wear guns. It’s all fine to want to show your audience something, and write what you want to write, and even to find your own platform for doing so. But please PLEASE edit and re-write and go through that writing process properly or we get books like these (that become Trilogies) badly written pieces that go for free on kindle.

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