I’ve been doing a bit of reading of late, something I’ve missed doing.  Just plunking myself down with something to drink to hand and reading until I’m too tired to read any more.  Over this past weekend I read three books of an 8 part series and I’m enjoying them.  I also read two books which were “ok” but I have no intention of reading those two authors again.  Neither appeared to proofread their books.  One was fan fiction and as an example misspelled the name of one of the main characters of the author he was a fan of.  Not once but twice while all the other mentions of that character were spelled correctly.  It makes you wonder if he actually read the books he claims to be writing fan fiction for.  The other had so many errors that could be caught by proofreading and this was the first in a series that I thought had potential so I went over to her website to provide feedback.  Reading her blog, one thing that jumped out at me was her saying “I can’t proofread so I’m not going to.”  She did thank her readers for pointing out errors but her use of correctly spelled but wrong words (such as ‘there’ for ‘their’) and not even trying to get her writing proofread…that turned me off.  I have no intention of even seeing if the rest of the series is any better written.

Ok, as they used to, and still do, say…<begin rant>

I don’t understand it.  If you want to put out ebooks, if you want to be an author, you’ve got to proofread your books.  If you’re so sure you can’t do it yourself, find someone or several someones to proofread your material.  If necessary, buy them the occasional lunch or dinner or a six pack.  Do what you need to to get your material proofread.  Not doing so makes you appear to be someone just pushing your books online so you can say, “Hey I’m an author.”

Know what?

You’re not an author, you’re just a writer by purely a simple definition.  Your books are your representative to your readers.  You want them to be the best possible PR you can.  Anything less is an injustice to not only your readers but also to yourself.

With ebooks, one of my pet peeves is mentioned in the first paragraph.  One thing that makes me seriously wonder about the author of what I’m reading is when the author apparently lets the spell checker dictate not only the correct spelling but also the correct word.  What I mean here is stuff such as the use of ‘there’ for ‘their’, ‘roll’ for ‘role’, ‘bare’ for ‘bear’, and so on.  Stuff like this should be caught by proofreading.  Failing to proofread and catch these or just failing to find them and leaving too many of them in place just turns people like me that love the English language off that writer.  If that writer apparently can’t be bothered to put in the time and effort to properly wordsmith, they do two major disservices:  those poor word choices make your books contribute to poor writing skills by giving the impression that such misuse is correct usage of those words.  If you are an author, or trying to be one, you are in a field where you are supposed to know how to use the language you write in.  If you want to call yourself an author, or even be known as a writer, you are a role model whether you want to be or not in the literary field.

The other disservice is more insidious, but similar.  By not proofing your material and cleaning it up before releasing it, you are, as a role model, implying that you don’t have to work hard to put out an ebook.  You’re implying that it’s OK to be lazy and just throw words together, call it an ebook, put it out for people to read, and that’s good enough to earn the right to be called an author.  I don’t know if it’s the case or not, but I would promptly think that person that put that ebook out has no pride in their work.  Maybe they do and just don’t have the education to know how to write.  Maybe they actually think the spell checker and grammar checker they use know what they’re doing.  Maybe, they’re the result of a lousy educational system that lost its way.  Maybe, but I’m sorry, but to me it just appears they don’t care.  Especially when their blog whines about not being able to proofread.

Ok, that was about proofreading what you write.  Now let’s rant about the other half of the ebook…proofing the actual ebook.

The same goes for putting out ebooks apparently without any effort to ensure they are proofed and tidied up to be a good representative of an author with pride in their work.  This series I’m reading at the moment is an example of this and also of potentially too much reliance on technology.

There are no typos, or at least not enough to interfere with my reading pleasure.  There are, however, scanning errors that are not corrected.

In this case, the series is by a published author and I’m sure his printed books do not have these errors.  But when I buy an ebook or ebook series, I really, really want as polished a result as the author’s printed material.  After all, he is an established, published author, right?

Apparently he has a publisher who only cares about the hardcopy PR, ebooks are to this publisher just a sop to the current ebook fad.  I got news for you, publisher: it’s NOT a fad.

A book that includes a letter to the hero that’s so garbled you almost need cryptography experience to read?  A list of things to be done presented by a friend of the hero to the group about what they need to do that’s not even in the ebook?  When the ebook reads as…

Putting the list on the table, he says, “We came up with this list of what we need to do.”  They bent over the list on the table and read the contents of the list:

There were murmurs as they read the list.  When all had finished, he continued….

OK, when you set it up like that, you’re supposed to include the list.  I checked, the hardcopy has the list there.  So, why isn’t it in the ebook?  Why isn’t the letter mentioned earlier readable like it is in the hardcopy?  For that matter, why are there occassional bold words that have no reason to be bold?  Why are the page numbers in the middle of sentences?

Earlier above I was ranting about writers that seemingly don’t care, now I’m ranting about publishers that don’t care about either their readers or their authors when it comes to ebooks.  I expect more from publishers, you’d think they’d want to stay in this book selling business.  But if they’re thinking that ebook readers are more lax, more forgiving of them mangling an otherwise good read, they’re definitely not going to keep my business.

Publishers and writers…proof your work, will you?!?!?!


If I’m going to spend money buying an ebook, I expect it to be as good a book as the hardcopy.  Or better.  Not like some four year old put it together.

I take that last back.  Given the four year olds I know, that’s an insult to four year olds.  My apologies to the four year olds.

<end rant>

I know it’s not going to change anytime soon, but it’s sure a sad reflection on authors that their ebooks apparently aren’t held up to the same standards as if they were trying to get the book into print.

I also know very well that not all authors are like this, nor all publishers.  Just hitting a group of books back to back like this got me irritable.  That and having to return to work after the weekend and wait until tonight to start book 4 in this series.


One Response to “Proofreading”

  1. slendertone flex Says:

    Enjoyed reading this article – any chance of an update?


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