Just sayin’

000Make an author's day by JI Rogers

Some really helpful advice from author, J I Rogers.

If you were wondering how to jump aboard the ‘author’s helping authors’ band wagon, this makes it so easy!

You can see from the side panel that I regularly read and review books on Goodreads. I also post the review to Amazon for the books I’ve downloaded and read by indie authors. I know how important it is.

So, all of you ‘indies’ out there, time to help each other out. Share the message and post your book links!

And to all you gallant readers: let’s have your reviews! Pretty please?

 

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How readable is your story?

Duke_Humfrey's_Library_Interior_5,_Bodleian_Library,_Oxford,_UK_-_Diliff
Duke Humfrey’s Library, the oldest reading room of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford   Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

I’ve been wandering about on the old interweb looking for something to rate the reading level of my latest work-in-progress. It’s a children’s book, and this is the first time I’ve written for any audience other than adult (apart from one short story).

I’d tried comparing with some of the books which I still have on my shelves from my childhood, but I suppose I was looking for something more analytical.

Then I came across the Automatic Readability Checker from ‘Readability Formulas’. All you have to do is cut and paste some text from your work and you’ll get an assessment of the grade-age range of your writing. Interesting, huh?

So, I tried the first few paragraphs of the children’s story. The results show it’s ‘easy/fairly easy to read’ and at fourth to sixth grade level (9-12 years), which is great; I’m aiming at the middle grade market!

Then I tried some samples from my first novel, The Silver Locket. This comes out at much the same level. Interesting! So finally I popped in a couple of paragraphs from ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, which is the new novel I’ve just finished editing and I get a slightly higher reading age, 11-15 years.

Also interesting. Then I read somewhere else that Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Old Man and the Sea’ is a fourth grade read and that Jane Austen and J.K. Rowling both come out at between fifth and sixth grade levels.

It’s all about ‘readability’ and actually, who wants to read something difficult, unless it’s an academic text? And even then, wouldn’t you be aiming for at least a good level of readability?

In the end though, I guess the best judge is the reader. I’ll be posting my new work-in-progress children’s novel a weekly chapter at a time, starting next week. And I’ll be interested, as always, in your feedback. Must think of a title!

 

With these words…

Duke_Humfrey's_Library_Interior_5,_Bodleian_Library,_Oxford,_UK_-_Diliff
Duke Humfrey’s Library, the oldest reading room of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford   Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

She hadn’t realised the consequences of taking down that old book and reading from it aloud. Nobody had warned her.

She’d always loved books; especially old books. Battered and bruised, but still adorable. Like a comfortable old armchair. The feel of the paper, pages yellowed at the edges, curled like parchment, worn down by the gaze of its readers. The smell: a little musty; a little dusty. And words which have been read and re-read; taken in, digested.

She’d been permitted to browse this ancient library. To scale the heights of the upper shelves and plumb the depths of the bottom-most archives. To swim in an ocean of promised words.

Finally, she made her choice, a heavy tome and rather old. The pages were discoloured, their edges torn, and the leather binding scuffed and stained. But the drawings of flowers and birds it contained were still colourful. There were passages of script held within the pages, although the language and spelling were archaic and hard to follow.

She took her prize to a remote desk and opened it carefully. She pored over it; savouring it. The illustrations were remarkable; tinted drawings so precise that they could have been photographs: two young girls dressed in pinafores, chanting a hand clapping game. Over the next page, a robust woman in a heavy woollen dress shouting straight out of the page at her, brows knitted with concern, arms open in appeal. A little further on, a poem was it? To be read aloud; of course.

And as she whispered the words, the world grew very bright for a moment, and then the lights went out.

Come, gentle reader, open the book! Look, she’s waving at you; page 229.

©2018 Chris Hall

The Clapping Song

 

How Goodreads Can Make You a Better Writer

Do have a look at this post! Nicole makes some great points.
I’ve become an avid reviewer on Goodreads and totally agree that being positive about another person’s work is important. As a writer, I guess you just have to take reviews on the chin, as with anyone who puts their work out there. I have some experience of the other side of this having worked as a curator in an art gallery. It’s never easy rejecting people’s submissions.

WordMothers

Nicole Melanson ~

Sculpture of boy whispering to woman “Seen that last review yet?”

If you want to strike fear into the heart of any author, sidle up alongside them at a party and whisper, “Goodreeeeadsssss” in their ear.

For the uninitiated, Goodreads is a platform where readers rate books and recommend them to other readers—readers being the key word. Goodreads was never intended for authors, yet authors can’t resist snooping around in there. On rare occasions, the end result is a burst of pride, but more often than not, the author slinks away with a bruised ego—or rather, the wise author slinks away with a bruised ego; the Devil-may-care ones roll up their sleeves and fight.

Insider tip: this fighting from an author on behalf of her book? It’s not a good look. Not under any circumstances. Nope. Never. Sorry. Even if the reader is totally wrong about the novel you’ve devoted 10 years…

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