Cyndy Aleo

Four Little Bees Writing & Editing

author, freelance writing, editing, and a little bit of web development, helping clients with content development, book editing, and blog set-up and customization

On those euphemisms for genitalia...

This is going to be a tough post to write, because I want to be sensitive to authors -- and their editors and betas.

Author Lauren Dane argues that a post at Bookriot on "terms we can't stand" is false, out of date, and clickbait. 

I... have to disagree. 

Note that Amanda Diehl, the author of the post, blogs and reviews for the popular romance site Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. And I'm going to assume her experience is much the same as mine. 

As a reviewer, you don't get the luxury of reading only books you think you'll enjoy. You get to read the books that come across your desk. Some are assigned by an editor. Some may sound interesting from the blurb, but turn out to be not so hot once you start reading.

Reviewers don't get to DNF.

I read anywhere from 150-200 books a year, most of them posted on Goodreads. I read across the board: Big Five publishers, large digital-first publishers, self-publishers, micropublishers. 

And if I told you that the writing and editing is the same no matter what, I'd be lying through my teeth.

Do I see terms like "love channel" in Big Five-published books? Of course not. But those books have editors who are full-time employees, get paid a salary, and know better.

Do I see them elsewhere? Yes. Because from self-publishing to micro-pubs to digital-first, the editing -- if it's done -- can be uneven at best, and non-existent at worst.

Many of the smaller publishers pay less than a living wage to editors. Most of them work for more than one publisher and/or freelance on the side. Some of these editors didn't go to school for it, have learned on the fly, and may not have years of experience in the genre. And beyond that, there are readers who not only don't mind these terms, but seem to relish them.

When I approach a book for review, I try to keep the average reader in mind. To be honest? That's my mother and my sister. Both read books that regularly hit the NYT lists. Both were on the early end of trends like Twilight and That Book That Shall Not Be Named. If I was reviewing purely for myself? I'll be honest; there would be a lot more single-star reviews from me. 

But I'm not. I don't expect every reader to love the books I do and hate the books I hate. Still, there are some books that have been so truly awful I can't do anything but, and when I enter my rating on Goodreads? I'm shocked to find dozens of five-star reviews. They liked reading about the iron member in its silken sheath. Or his cock autolocating her "cavern" like it was a divining rod (or in my mind, a bat using sonar). Does it make me cross my legs and cringe? Yes. And any editor worth their salt would have highlighted that with a NONONONONO in the margin. 

But in this era in which it's often hard to get people to understand the value of a good editor, and when people are often publishing without the benefit of experience in the industry -- or even in their chosen genre -- it's inevitable that there's still plenty of this kind of stuff out there. And readers who flock to the free and super-cheap ebooks may find a niche where this kind of language is the norm rather than the exception. And they may never venture out of that niche, not knowing there's stuff out there that's amazing and has language that's less cringe and more "fan yourself."

And THAT is the reason I keep reviewing books and talking about them and posting my recommendations far and wide: I want to help readers find those books, and get the cream to sort to the top. Right now? We just aren't there. And if Bookriot's clickbaity article can steer a few readers to the good stuff? I have a raft of examples they can choose from.