‘The Royal Ooze’ gives self-publishing a bad name

Hannah Mitchell, Editor

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I was drawn to Ian Rodgers’ book “A Princess and an Ooze” because I needed something to break up the monotony of peer-reviewed journals and textbooks. The story seemed whimsical and light-hearted. The fantasy world seemed to have been created with a certain amount of intelligence and care. I read a sample on my Kindle and immediately became a fan of the characters who were warm and relatable.
When I bought the book, however, things took an unexpected twist.
Shortly after the point where the sample had ended, the grammar took a turn for the worse. Sentences would start in past tense, wind up in present tense and (if the sentence was long enough) return to past tense again. It was so bad it began to mess with my mind, and I almost had to resort to reading portions out loud just so I could follow the chronological order of events.
Another thing I noticed was that Rodgers did not consistently refer to the quantity of things. Whether a thing was plural or singular seemed to be determined by an unpredictable whimsy. When this whimsy was applied to people, it made it nearly impossible for me to keep track of where characters were at any given time.
And the worst part about all of this was that the errors were not consistent. It was as if all the pages got thrown on the floor in a messy heap and only half got picked up for editing. All of this convinced me beyond a doubt that Rodgers had published his book independently. And this made me mad.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a believer in self-publishing. If other media can be created without reliance on major corporations, why not books? And I understand that individuals have fewer resources than corporations and that this will likely affect the quality of the finished product. But to me there is a difference between not having state-of-the-art software when making a movie or video game and having a good editor. Maybe I’m just biased. Anyone who knows me is probably laughing “Ha! Of course this bothers you!”
But it truly is painful for me to see the work of someone who is clearly a good writer suffer from a lack of proofreading. Heck, Rodgers could’ve prevented probably half of the errors if he had just read over his own work. The parts that aren’t riddled with errors prove he does understand proper grammar.
And the story as a whole is a testament to a vivid imagination and a love of fantasy. In this story, I see inspiration from “Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potter” and potentially Dungeons and Dragons or Magic: The Gathering (which one has mana? I know nothing about either). There are plenty of original elements as well. The story is light-hearted and whimsical, the characters are lovable and I do really want to read the rest of the series.
I do recommend this book, especially if you aren’t a stickler for precise word choice. And to anyone out there seeking to publish your own book, I say go for it. But know that there are resources out there for indie authors. It is not that hard to find an editor, and it will make your work better received if your readers aren’t having to reread every other sentence.