A big thing is clutter. Excess toys and knicknacks. Some people like this and won't feel comfortable if the room they are in isn't filled with these things. Other people detest them and get nervous if there are more than a few. So it is a matter of personal taste, unless it's at a level where one can't even move. Now, these can equate to points, plots, and subpoints in your story For example, I get bored if a story is too simple. Children's books usually need to be, unless you're writing for older children... advanced kids will be picking up advanced books early. So when I'm reading for personal pleasure, I want something intricate, full of plot turns, and if there are plot holes, I like to see those apparent holes get filled in later on in ways that make me go "Holey Moley, that is AWESOME, well played." You want enough to keep things interesting, but if you're going to have tons, then it is a good idea to pare down or make separate books. You want a good flow and a good challenge. Also, how well these are handled is important as well.
Then you've got your typos and the little grammar problems, such as there, their, and they're. These are important, and nothing looks worse (at least to me) than misusing a word. There are lots of people with spelling problems. That is what the proofing process is for. If you are a terrible speller or know you confuse those (and even if not) then once you finish and have proofread and edited your own work, have someone else look at it that you know IS good with these, several when possible.
This is why every title submitted to me is required to go through editing with either myself or Faith (often, both, though the time-fee stays the same unless it's an intensive revision/proof). Those things are like the dust that slip through the cracks and the dustbunnies under the couch. They are everywhere, but need to be looked for. Our brains have auto correct, and an author isn't going to catch them all.
So what makes for an easier to follow book?
- Reduce the unnecessary
- Dust out your typos
- Make sure things flow properly
Finally, one more similarity between housecleaning and editing. Most people don't like to do it. But it is necessary to make things look their best.
Thank you for listening to today's post. I encourage conversation, so if there is anything you would like to add, or something you'd like to debate a bit, feel free to comment.