Normally whenever I take self-published works, I make the following grades based on the following:
- Cover Design– the work needs to look catchy and professional, not sloppy and amateurish.
- Blurb– Seriously, a good review for a self-published book means that the brief 100 word description of your book needs to pique my interest. Even if the book doesn’t fit my genres, they need to look interesting for other readers.
- Chapter Titles- OK, some authors chose to name their chapters and I’ll tell you what, some of the titles they come up with are crappy, not catchy. If you want something to be well marketed, your book needs to catch the reader’s eye.
- Format– there are no large fonts, fancy fonts, double spaces, large block paragraphs, unjustified texts, etc. Constantly I keep running into these problems, especially the excessive use of italics and the extra spaces between paragraphs. It’s almost as if I need to know where the thoughts are. I want to read something that doesn’t seem like a high school research paper or a legal contract!
- Pace– this is the most common ways self-published authors don’t get a good rating from me. If you want to write well, I suggest you find the right balance between dialogue and narration. The moment you send a book to have it reviewed I will be flipping through the pages to find some dialogue. No dialogue, no story.
- Dialogue– Here’s another way to piss off a reader. If you’re trying to mimic accents from people of different origins or disabilities, please try to limit spare the reader from mispronounced agony. Not everything needs to be 100% authentic. Develop some verisimilitude.
- Plot– Although I don’t necessarily judge by this aspect, this is the last thing I keep in mind while I start and finish the book. Is the plot real? Could this happen to me? What if I were in that situation?
- Character– I should be able to identify myself with the character, not feel like I’m watching a cartoon.
Books with an A rating:
I think your work stuns me; I can’t even tell the difference between the typical self-published and publishing house book. Your work has mesmerized my eyes from the moment I laid eyes on your work. The plot’s great, I’m impressed with the dialogue. The grammar is immaculate. Why didn’t you get yourself an agent? Maybe with my review, someone will read and buy your work.
Books with an B rating:
Your work isn’t so bad. Your cover’s good, but I can still tell it’s like the rest. The dialogue’s good, but it’s not great or impressive. The overall flow of the dialogue and plot are not as great as I imagined. I think there needs to be tweaking on here and there. Maybe you should go over and review some of the things in your work.
Books with an C rating:
You got some skills to develop, the cover’s average; it doesn’t pique my interest. Your book contains bad formatting, insufficient dialogue, grammar errors, poor plot structure, and crappy blurbs. For goodness sake, I think I’m reading a Simon and Schuster book contract! May I suggest you try picking up a couple of books on how to write?
Books with an D rating:
OK, maybe writing isn’t for you really. I can imagine you wanted the perks of being an author without going through the hard labor like any other writer has to make a quick buck. Perhaps you intended your work to be in the good hands of friends, family, and good neighbors, but somehow a stranger like me has come across your work. I’m not sure what you were thinking when you decided to make your book available through Amazon, but I can tell you one thing: watch out for those who buy your works.
Books with an F rating:
Why did you ever decide to go through the business of becoming an author? Perhaps you should quit dreaming of becoming a novelist and stick to your regular job. Good writing takes skill and you don’t have any.
Note: These grades are based on what I think of the work overall.