About Writing, Life and Writing About Life

Writers Take Note

Well, even I was surprised at how strongly readers feel! On Monday I posed the question as to whether readers mind errors in books – and how much they mind. Now it might be that those who mind were more inclined to answer the survey, but even in these early days the results show heavily that mistakes are just not ok. So far, over 70% of people have agreed that writers should not put out books with errors. From other comments I have had elsewhere, it seems that people feel it is insulting for an author to put a book out without it being checked thoroughly and errors removed. It seems the main problem is the one I found – that it gets in the way of taking in the contents of the book, causes frustration, and may even result in a book being abandoned. If you want to see the full results of the survey so far, or add your vote, you can find it here.

In my forthcoming book, Be An Author, we looked at the rise of ePublishing, and the increase in free content. The consensus was that this would result in the buying public having to ‘sort the wheat from the chaff’. For me the problem has been that these books aren’t ‘chaff’, or at least they didn’t have to be. They are books that have value, with stories to tell, that I want to read. But my reading pleasure has been diminished by the lack of polishing of the finished product.

So I am now in a campaigning mood. As a self-published author, I want self-published books to be regarded just as highly as traditionally published ones. In order for that to happen, though, self-published authors have to be prepared to put in the work, or pay the price, to get their work to a professional standard. I will be making this clear in the self-publishing guide I will be making available on this blog shortly, but in the meantime writers please take note. Anything less than pretty-near-perfect is just not good enough. We could say that we are not just self-published, we are Professionally Self-Published. What do you think?

The other thing I have vowed to do is to review the books I find have this problem truthfully warts and all in the future. I will tell what I like about the book, but if errors have put me off in my reading I will demote the book by one star and say so. Otherwise, how can an author know they have not met the required standard? I know that this means I will also be held up to that standard, and you are all sure to let me know when I don’t meet it. I can live with that. At least I will learn something, too.


Comments on: "Writers Take Note" (7)

  1. Well said Anne. Very brave of you to nail your standard to the mast on this thorny topic! I found it interesting that a couple of people in the survey replied that “it depended how much they’d paid for the book”. I don’t see that at all. I expect everyone to be competent at their chosen work – I don’t expect everyone to be a brain surgeon, but if someone works on the tills at the corner shop then I expect them to know how to do that. My point is, that by putting out published work someone is identifying as a writer (whether it’s lowly blogging, such as mine, or Kindle books, or printed tomes). And by identifying themselves as a writer, I as the reader then have higher expectations of them than I do of, say, a cub scout leader writing a report on a weekend camp in the local paper. Thank you for this.

    • Well, Tamara, it may be brave or indeed turn out to be foolish. But our mutual friend has been teaching me to observe my own reactions and extrapolate from there. So if I’ve been finding it annoying in my reading, then I guessed others were too. Maybe by going public I can make other writers think as it only takes a bit more work and another pair of eyes to up the standard. I am more forgiving about blogging, though, as we don’t all have time to polish a blog post and as they are shorter pieces I find mistakes less disrupting.

  2. I agree about errors, totally agree, which is why I am so frustrated by the errors which are in my novels published on Kindle.
    I edited my work so carefully but when they were published, extra spaces had crept in, or spaces had been missed out between words, and paragraphs, and on a couple of occasions letters were inverted creating a spelling mistake. I had my manuscript there in front of me, my Kindle in my hand and I know I had not made those mistakes, I could see I had not made those mistakes.
    As an author it is sooooo frustrating… but it has made me a little more tolerant of silly little errors on the printed page… some of which can be blamed on a spell-checked manuscript!

    • I haven’t tried to format a Kindle book yet Lois, so may yet have the same problems when I do. It must be immensely frustrating to have errors creeping in. I will have to watch out for these things when I get round to that. Sometimes I think technology is sent to frustrate us!

  3. I agree. As a reader I can put up with the occasional mistake – even books from the big publishing house aren’t immune to the odd typo. (Although really jarring errors do interrupt the flow.) However, when it gets to the stage that I’m finding really basic mistakes every few pages then I do get cross.

    I recently read a thriller by a quite well-known author that referred to the island of Cypress rather than Cyprus! That did at least make me laugh but it does show the danger of over-dependence on MS’s spellcheck.

    As an author I just hope that my books reach the same professional standards that I want others to achieve!

    • Hi Huw. I think wanting to be professional is a huge part of it. If you want to reach a professional standard you act in a professional way. And in my book that means not just relying on spellcheck, but having another human being who knows what they are doing look over your work. I still think there will inevitably be errors because we are only human after all, but they should be few and far between, not glaring and frequent. Professional standards for self-published authors, that’s the thing. Perhaps we could make a badge for our book covers!

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