I have admitted this before and I will admit it now, I am a picky reader. There have been several books where I just didn’t finish. Several books I did finish and asked myself why I even bothered. And then, there are those books you read that are so terribly written, but because the story line and uniqueness of the book are intriguing you keep reading, trying to ignore all those things that irritate you so much. And all the while, you keep thinking this could have been a fantastic book if the author had only taken the time to fix the grammar and editorial mistakes. We all make mistakes. I know that. I’ve found mistakes in my own books that make me shake my head. It’s when those mistakes are on almost every single page that it really starts to bother me.
This is actually one of my biggest fears as a novelist. I always hope people will enjoy my books and not think they are horribly written. I know that I have room to grow as a writer. We all do. There’s always something we can do better. More showing, less telling is one of my goals and what I consider a weakness. But, I’m working on it and hope I’m getting better.
Even if you have a great idea that is unique and compelling, it’s the writer’s job to make sure the writing isn’t terrible. There are a lot of books out there that have the potential to be absolutely amazing books. So make certain the correct grammar and punctuation is used, and the correct words are used. I’ve read a few books and after reading a particular sentence paused and went: “That words doesn’t mean what you think it means.” There is no shame in using a large word but only if you know what it means. If you aren’t certain, please, for the love of God, look it up! I am not ashamed to look up words. That’s what dictionaries are for! (It also makes you look like less of an idiot.)
Also, if you know one of your weaknesses as a writer is grammar and punctuation, either take a few classes to learn how to use it, or find a good editor. You don’t even have to pay for an editor if you don’t want to. There are friends out there who are so eager to read your books that they’ll help you out. I know from personally pricing some book editors that their prices are expensive. (Sometimes what I would consider a ridiculous rate.) Besides, that, it’s always a good idea to have another person take a look at your books before self-publishing. They are likely to see things you may have missed.