Monthly Archives: October 2014

Online books the absence of proof readers and editors #bookramblings

I cycle to the station and back most days.  With only a back pack to get all my stuff in I’m limited on what I can carry.  A sacrifice I’ve had to make is using my Kindle rather than carrying a book.  As a lover of books I like the feel of them, the smell of them, I like to be able to lend them to a friend and I like that my house is full of them.  So I struck a deal with myself, I’d use my Kindle for commuting but I wouldn’t pay for any books. And so began my relationship with the free downloads.

So far I’m probably about 30-40 books in and what a variety.  Of course with many classics now outside of copyright they are readily available to download and it is now easier than ever to work your way through some very good 19th century literature.  You could also get stuck reading a Jane Austen or Charles Dickens’s books but my feelings about those are probably best left for another blog.  F

The more recently published free to download books are proving to be an interesting read.  I’ve read some fantastic books, some where I’ve loved the plot but the writer hasn’t been able to do character development justice and others have just been terrible.  But something that appears to be common across all recently published free downloads which really irks me is typos, punctuation errors, spelling mistakes and errors in the story.

Take the book I’m reading at the moment This Green and Pleasant Land by John Andrews.  I’m guessing at some point in writing the book the author played around with the names of some of his characters, as two characters called Thomas (grandfather and grandson) are repeatedly miss-referred to as Peter.  I could have forgiven one incident of this but it happens on multiple occasions, in different chapters.  I mean come on!  If you’ve gone to the effort of writing a book you could at least put in the extra effort to proof-read it.  And hello have you not heard of “Find and Replace” in Word.

Typos are another bug bear of mine, unfortunately the kind I’m talking about won’t get picked up by a simple spell check.  Incorrect tenses of words, laughed instead of laughs, typing errors tall instead of talk.  Many years ago when I worked in journal production it was part of my job to go through each document simply looking for these kinds of errors, you can’t do this when reading a book as your brain often processes the word in context, you know the sentence should say “let’s talk” so you read that despite the text saying “tall”.  But when you do spot them they are so annoying, I often find myself struggling to get past the sentence as my brain irks at the error.  Again I say to authors, you’ve spent long enough writing the piece take the time to ask friends to proof-read.  Give each one a different chapter so they’re looking at small chunks, get them to read phonetically looking at each word rather than letting sentences flow.

My final peeve, which I do believe again, comes down to poor proof reading and editing.  Errors in the story.  If you can’t remember what you’ve already told us, or what your characters did, who they spoke to, where they went then please look back through your notes.  On more than one occasion recently historic information about a character has changed part way through, and it was an intentional twist I promise you.  Maybe something changed in the plot as you developed it, but you need someone to go back and make sure that everything makes sense.

I really enjoyed the opening chapters of This Green and Pleasant Land but after the umpteenth error in the text it just became frustrating to read, and reading on a Kindle I couldn’t get a red pen out and correct the errors to matter how much I wanted to!

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