Friday, March 29, 2013

I'm a Writer Not an Editor

In 2007-2008 The Kelsey Group, Word of Mouth Marketing Association, Forrester Research and comSore, discovered rating and reviews really did make a difference in what consumers were consuming.
After this big name stores started using their customer reviews in advertisements and every consumer with an opinion took notice.

From restaurants to furniture stores you can find a review about them online. The site with the most consumer reviews? Amazon. The product most reviewed? Books.

A Million Random Digits by RAND Corporation a book about how RAND came up with their technology and made money had 377 reviews with 1,983 of 2,056 finding the top review helpful. That particular review was about the book, but most of that book's reviews were about e-copy editing issues.

One of the most read and reviewed books on Amazon is George R.R. Martin's Game Of Thrones getting a whopping 3,284 reviews with 4,476 of 4,688 finding the top review helpful. The second most rated review for this book was all about, you guessed it, editing, with 1,986 of 2,117 finding it helpful.

If you're familiar with Amazon and their reviews you know when a person takes the time to sign in and click the 'YES, I found this helpful' button under a book review, it's because they have already bought it and they strongly agree or disagree. That's a lot of people very upset about editing. Why all the mistakes?

Times are changing but it seems like e-book publishing is just now starting to make changes. The authors that are self publishing don't have the money to pay an editor let alone a sub-editor. Having a fancy publisher and editor doesn't always guarantee perfection.

The way a book is uploaded and formatted in e-lit is completely different than paper. More than that the programs used to upload the author's copies are just now getting an upgrade.


Yep, the programs used in e-lit upload are vastly outdated. Mistakes are made then first drafts are recognized and scanned by flawed programs instead of the appropriate copy. The correct draft can be uploaded but then the scanning program changes the book's format.

I've seen every kind of e-lit snafu out there and as an avid reader some are more annoying than others.

I just read The Ivy League by Ruby Parker. The story itself reeled me in and kept me hooked (even though it didn't sizzle my panties). What threw me off a little was how many times the main character Sara became Sarah with an H, for a paragraph or two. When Sara went from having coal black hair to having soft blond at the end of Chapter Twelve I knew something was up.

I'm horrible at editing my own work. I can reread my own writing twenty times and miss a simple mistake twenty times. A character detail change is pretty obvious. So was the first draft uploaded instead of the final copy or was that the 'edited copy'. Regardless of the flaws I enjoyed the book but I know I'm the exception not the rule.

I recently read a reader blog post, Why Some Indie Authors Fail by Rich Adin 'The Digital Reader'. He starts off things nicely with how Indie writers need a better notification system to when their new books are coming out. Then the article takes a dive sighting Indie writers who don't have editors and use poor grammar are plain disrespectful to readers.

I've never felt any personal insult when reading a poorly edited book, but from the comments on this guy's page and other reviewer sites, many readers do in fact take personal umbrage from the slightest grammatical error.

The grammatical errors are hurting my soul.

Do grammatical and formatting mistakes drive you nuts? You may suffer from a not so very serious condition called Grammatical Pedantry Syndrome or GPS. This is a form of OCD that causes a person to not be able to over look bad grammar or grammatical errors. I shit you not. This is a real form of OCD and could be keeping you from enjoying a good book.

So ask yourself:

- Are you able to read and enjoy anything not properly edited or formatted?

- Do you lose all sense of enjoyment and respect for an article at the first misplaced comma?

- Do you correct friends and strangers, verbally or mentally when they use who instead of whom?

- Are you even now editing this post?

If you've answered yes to any or all of the above questions you may have GPS and this may be affecting how you see the world. If you are an editor or an English teacher, well done, you have found a way to get paid for something you compulsively do anyways.

I empathize, for some of you grammatical errors actually make your skin crawl.

My girlfriend recently lamented her hate of exclamation points in narratives. She became quite heated about this. Just the thought of those pesky exclamation points were pissing her off. I've never noticed an exclamation point in a narrative. I had no idea what she was talking about mainly because like so many on the other side, I'm an error maker. I make it rain typos. I type words backwards, I use affect when I should have used effect, lay when it should have been lie, and I am a recovering comma abuser.

Quite honestly, I would probably put an exclamation point in a narrative. I'm not sure how half my friends have kept up a texting/email relationship with me. For all of my GPS gal pals, thank you. I've noticed you've stopped correcting my notes. Either you've gotten busier or I'm wearing you down.

                                                        GPS and E-Books, 
                                               The Reviews Don't Look Good

The e-book uploading process may be reader blocking the lesser known authors. We already know reviews affect the consumer.

Book reviews can be especially harsh and authors feel no cushion of being a franchise or a large company. When you review a book you are broadcasting your personal opinion about one person's work.

What happens when the consumer blames the author for the format and/or editing? Is it always the author's fault?

You've seen 'those' reviews:

This seemed like a good book but the formatting was so bad I couldn't finish it! What a waste of money. There were so many errors, (unknown author) needs to hire an editor!

 I feel bad for these readers, but then I download the book and I don't get how they couldn't finish it. That's when I feel bad for the writer. That one negative review may have cost that author countless readers.

Eloisa James had a New York best seller with her fans in a tizzy because of the e-copy being riddled with formatting and editing errors. Her fans were upset, but they still bought the book because it was Eloisa James. The unknown and especially the indie author doesn't get that type of consideration even if the book in itself is wonderful.

Let's not over look a good book because of a few errors. Many of the books with grammatical or formatting errors that have people complaining up a storm, I've enjoyed just fine. I still notice the errors, but rarely do they impede my reading pleasure.

I'm not saying reviewers shouldn't mention the found errors at all. I just think a three paragraph freak out over a formatting snafu may be over kill, and most of us didn't even notice the misuse of your and you're on page 52. I believe mentioning the error helps the people with GPS know what they are getting into without hindering people like me from buying the book.

So, do you have GPS? I know there are many of you out there. Try to understand the person writing the book you're mentally editing isn't a complete idiot. Calling an author an unprofessional amateur for having tech/editing issues is uncalled for. He/she is only human.

Readers, remember all book reviews are subject to opinion being that they are just that, opinions. Writers, it's tough out there. Arm yourself with a tech savvy editor that is painfully honest and has GPS.  Hopefully e-publishing formatting and editing issues will soon be a thing of the past.

A big THANK YOU to all the writers out there. 
We readers are nothing without you. 

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