Title: The Doctor’s Dilemma
Author: Victoria M. Johnson
This started out as a review for the 1-star book I read this week, but given the high number of self-published authors out there, I figured I’d make this one special. This is a review not primarily for the readers of the world but for the people who hope to earn their readership.
The last two books I reviewed here were so knock-it-out-of-the-park awesome that I figured I had to show the the cloud from both sides now.
I bought Ms. Johnson’s novel because I’ve been doing a lot of heavy reading and was looking for a snack; a light, predictable romance that was fun and escapist. Lest you think I’m one of those fusty literary snobs I need you to understand that there are few things I enjoy more than a light snack read where you can escape into a world of money, love, intrigue. I was weaned on Jane Eyre and that has programmed me for life when it comes to loving romantic stories. There’s no way I’m going to give every romance novel–category romance or general market–a low rating for being “just romance”.
I went into this book wanting to love it. I am nutso for stories about doctors and nurses and hospital goings-on. This had it all; a doctor and a nurse in an exotic locale falling in love. Then we get to the Cantina Scene, which is where Johnson blew it. The monster in her Cantina wasn’t some ugly fellow with a death sentence in 12 systems. It’s worse: horrific editing.
The couple walk into the local cantina where the owner Carmen takes their order. Both the doctor and nurse ask for Chicken Enchildas, then they sit down and start in on an expository conversation. A few paragraphs later, Carmen brings out flour tortillas and fajita toppings. A couple of paragraphs after that the nurse takes a bite of her burrito.
Either this book wasn’t edited or the person who did the editing was as drunk as a fiddler’s bitch when he or she read through the manuscript. Those are the only reasons that people in a story would order one thing, have another food brought to their table instead and then eat yet a third thing that was neither what they ordered nor what was brought to their table.
I love self-published books. My favourite books of the last 6 months were self-published. (Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song and the Riyria Chronicles by Michael J. Sullivan) Just so we’re clear on that.
But here’s the thing: If you’re self-publishing a novel–as Ms. Johnson did–getting readers is going to be more difficult because you’ve got to put all the marketing work in by yourself that publishers do for the books they acquire. It’s a lot of work getting someone convinced to pay for and then read your work. If you don’t have the novel professionally edited, you will squander huge opportunities. Had Ms. Johnson put the work into having this book properly edited, chances are I would have enjoyed it enough to read the next thing she publishes. Instead, she’s lost me on not only this book but anything else she ever produces.
A poorly edited work will punish all the books in your career. As cliche as it sounds, you only have one chance to make a first impression on your readers. So if you’re writing a book you want to self-publish, if you’re shopping a self-published book now, if you have one already available take the time and financial investment to have your work edited.
At this point it’s likely obvious that I give The Doctor’s Dilemma only 1 bookworm. But more than that I want everyone out there to please take these words to heart.