|"Singing Trees" - The Creation, December 2013|
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I was going to begin my World Building series this week, but a book I just read sent me into shock mode and a brief postponement of my plans. As we all know, it's close to impossible to publish a book without an error or three. Typos no one noticed, a missing word here or there. It's expected. Even the best old-time print publishers get caught by this publishing inevitability. But a book that looks like no one bothered to check it, let alone fix it? Now that's just downright unacceptable. I don't care whether you're a best-selling multi-published author or some high school student on his/her first publishing venture, there is no excuse for not presenting a well-polished book. (Exception: Authors writing for New York print publishers and royalty-paying e-publishers. They should turn in a clean, proof-read manuscript, but after that the publisher becomes responsible.) My words today are primarily addressed to those who are doing their own publishing.
Have a critique group read your book, making note of copy edits as well as story.
Have friends read your book - not as sycophants but as careful critics.
Have colleagues read it - again, with care, not a quick once-over.
Have Mom, Dad, Aunt Susie. read it. (Well, one can always hope.)
Hire a professional editor and/or copy editor.
One of the above should work for you. Or, if you're like me, you simply edit and proof your own work until you truly believe it's as close to flawless as it's going to get.
And yet . . . just this week a friend e-mailed me about a couple of errors in my naughty novella, Belle. And yes, they were critical errors - the wrong name for the hero in one place and an incorrect pronoun that rendered a sentence senseless. I immediately found and fixed them and uploaded the corrected version to Amazon. (Since Belle is having some difficulty making it to B&N via Smashwords, it's the corrected version that will finally appear there.) Simply put, I make a real effort to present the nuts and bolts of my work with as much quality as I hope went into the writing.
And I expect others to do the same.
Alas, this week I happily downloaded the latest in a series of books I have enjoyed over the past few years, only to discover the author seems to have skipped the proof-reading phase of this one. Because I do not want to make this personal, I will avoid specific examples, but here is what I found:
1. Soundalike words used in place of the proper word. Quite a few of them.
2. A totally incorrect soundalike word used over and over again, clearly indicating the author did not know the difference between the two.
3. Other incorrect words which might have been either author misconception or simply typos.
4. Non sequiturs - words in the middle of a sentence that made no sense - probably meant for deletion but which never made it.
5. In one place, an entire paragraph was displaced, completely mangling the end of a chapter.
It's possible some bad things may have been happening in the author's life when editing time came along. But the impression a reader gets is that the author has written so many successful indie-published books, she no longer has respect for her readers. "Just write it and upload it. Why bother to look it over?" That's the message I got. To say I was disappointed is putting it mildly. I just couldn't empathize with the characters as I had in the past.
The moral of this tale is one I'm sure you don't have to be told: For the sake of your book, for the sake of your readers, for the sake of pride in your accomplishment(s), EDIT THE BLASTED BOOK!
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Hmmm, that's two rants, almost back to back. I promise to get to World Building next time round - though that will likely be after Christmas.
Thanks for stopping by,
Tuesday, Dec. 17: For Nook owners, who might have been wondering if Belle was ever going to make it to Barnes and Noble, I'm happy to announce it is finally there. Here is the link: Belle
For Blair's website with book covers & blurbs, click here
For Grace's editing service, click here