How not to write a book …

… or maybe this should actually be called “How to write a best seller without knowing the first thing about writing”!

You can’t fail to have heard about the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. You know, the pornographic erotic novels about Christian Grey, the man every woman I know seems to be swooning over even though, from what I can make out, he’s a bit of a ******* .

I have, so far, resisted the urge to read any of the books – but I did come across a very funny blog post, 50 things that annoy me about 50 Shades of Grey, which had me laughing out loud.

The author, Cassandra Parkin has since published a book that’s really an extension of the blog post. In Lighter Shades of Grey she takes apart 50 Shades of Grey chapter by chapter, and although in my opinion it’s too short it is very, very funny, and a good use of £1.49 (Kindle only). What it really highlights is just how badly written 50 Shades is – the author seems to have a very limited vocabulary and uses some odd techniques to describe what’s going on – whereas by comparison, Parkin’s book is eloquent and well edited. I hope it sells well, but I doubt it will come close to sales for the 50 Shades trilogy, which have sold over 20 million copies between them … and made the author, E. L. James famous. Perhaps good writing doesn’t matter any more.

Yet for me it does, really it does. I recently read a book that was littered with typos and had entire random words out of place, as if it had been edited but the original text had been left behind. In one place the lead character was using his phone as a torch and he “shined the torch on the wall” ….. Aargh! OK I know lots of people don’t notice errors in books, or do but don’t let it bother them, but for the many perfectionists (grammar cops!) out there like me, it doesn’t matter how good the story line is – if there are typos it’s really distracting.

So I guess the point of my email is that while you can get lucky and make a fortune from a badly written book, it really does pay to use a proofreader and/or editor – not least because the last thing you want is someone writing their own book that rips apart your masterpiece!

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