Since Kelsey and I started the blog, we have read over 100 books. Our favorites are always the romance stories, but we’ve seen several things that almost instantly turn us off. We’ve discussed it with other readers and these are the top things that will either make us close your book early, or give it a bad review.
Editing- I don’t think I can stress this enough. We have started several books where the plot seems amazing and we’re excited to see where the story goes. However, when we start the book, it is so filled with grammatical errors and typos, that we simply cannot get through it. Publishing houses will provide you with an editor, but self publishers are on their own. Please either save the money for an editor or strike a deal with one. Talk to an English major at a college near you or maybe speak to a librarian. There are tons of ways to get someone to edit your book without shelling out hundreds of dollars. However, make sure you research the editor to avoid posers. Ask to speak to authors that worked with that editor before.
Looking for a reputable editor? I’ve used C.K. Brooke and she is amazing! Her prices are affordable and she looks at both content and grammar at the same time.
Avoid the Word ‘Moi$t’- This is one of the worst words in the English language. If you use this in a sex scene, I am completely turned off. Nothing kills a lady boner as fast as this word. While it may not bother everyone, there are enough that cringe when they hear or see this word that it’s best to avoid it.
Instant Love- This is a matter of opinion but speaking for myself, Kelsey, and several other readers we conferred with, we cannot stand instant love. Instant lust is usually more appropriate. There needs to be some time before they are hopelessly devoted to each other.
Instant Sex- We like to be wined and dined before the sex comes. There are times when the sex can come immediately, but please make sure there is a reason and it is essential for the plot.
Slow Plot- Speaking of the plot, there is nothing worse than the promise of a great book but then it takes you forever to get into the story. You need to be careful of your pacing. While it is best to have a big dramatic scene at the end, don’t forget about twists and turns in the middle. Keep me reading until the dramatic reveal, but don’t keep me waiting.
Weak Plot- Make sure your main characters have a good reason to be apart or struggling. Their problems need to be significant, or otherwise why would we care? I get frustrated at times when I’m reading because the plot has let me down. There just wasn’t enough of an obstacle for the main characters to overcome.
Likable Main Character- While this may seem like a no brainer, it is actually harder than it sounds. There are a lot of characteristics that bother readers. The “woe is me” constant victim is a classic! I don’t want to continue to hear you whine about your life. Get up and do something about it. Ariel didn’t moon over Eric, she sought out the sea witch and did something about it. The bitchy bad ass is another classic. I understand you don’t want to write a vanilla main character and I applaud you for mixing it up. However, she needs some endearing qualities too. Don’t make her so mean or so nasty that the reader can’t imagine being friends with her. There are others, but these are my top two.
Proper formatting- Again, this is geared more towards self publishers, but please make sure your formatting is on point and pleasing to the eye. A reader should be able to flow through your book easily. This is another reason people may put your book down before finishing. Look at books you like and make a note of the formatting. See what works for you and what doesn’t.
Research- One of my biggest pet peeves is when there are factual errors in a book. I studied criminal justice in college and Kelsey studied history. I cannot stand to read books that have errors regarding the justice system or something like that. She starts to twitch when historical events or facts are wrong. Do your research so that these errors don’t come up. If the main character breaks her arm, she won’t be healed in two weeks (unless magic is involved). Even if you think that you’re an expert, double check your facts or have another expert beta read your book.
Appropriate Voice- Finding a character’s voice is one of the most important parts of writing a story. Sometimes, the voices just won’t shut up and you need to write to get it out. But make sure you pay attention to that voice. If she has a young voice, then maybe she wants to be a middle grade book instead of a ya book or explain why she is so young. Is she naive, does she not get out much? Read as many books in your genre as you can so that you become more informed about ages and voices. Talk to family members who may be that age. Watch youtube videos where that age group is reviewing or taking about pop culture.
These are just some tips that we’ve gathered over the years and obviously they are our opinions. Feel free to comment and add your own or discuss why you may disagree with anything we’ve said. We’d love to hear from you.
Sarah and I both have books out now, so if you like our posts, you’ll probably love our books! First Semester is a thrilling college romance that you can get HERE. Queen of Emeralds is a historic romance set in the highlands that you can get HERE.