Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Proofread your books!

I’ve just finished (I hope) a correspondence clarifying a misunderstanding, and I’d like to publish a warning to everyone who sends me a book to be reviewed.

I have been getting review copies from publishers and authors for decades. They used to be either regular, commercial editions, or advance copies clearly marked “Uncorrected bound proof – not for resale”, or some variant of that.

Today, with print-on-demand technology, many publishers and authors send me books without any indication that they are not the regular editions. If I complain in the review that they are full of spelling and grammatical errors, and shoddy typography – switching from regular type to italics in the middle of a sentence for no reason, for example – the author/publisher complains that this is an unfair review because I’ve been sent an unproofread copy; of course the on-sale copies don’t have those errors. Or I should have sent the publisher a private letter to allow the mistakes to be corrected, since that can be done today before any more copies are sold.

Well, sorry, but it’s not a reviewer’s job to do the author’s/publisher’s job of proofreading for them. Or to assume today that a book with no indication that it is unproofread will be proofread, because some new authors don’t bother to proofread their books and send them out full of errors. And some readers complain loudly when they buy a book because of a favorable review and find that it’s full of spelling and other errors.

Here is an extreme but not unique “horrible example”: “The Face in the Mirror” and “Chained Reflections”, by T. R. Brown. I think that there is an excellent story under all the errors, which should be easily correctable – if anyone would bother to correct them. And the comments indicate that some readers will refuse to read any books with lots of minor errors, no matter how good the story is.

So if you’re going to send out review copies, to me or to any other reviewer, PROOFREAD YOUR BOOK FIRST.

Well said. The only way I send out anything un-proofed is if I’m sending it to someone that has volunteered to do the proofing for me. I pity anyone I send something to that I haven’t at least made one editing pass on. giggles

Why would they not mark that it’s not the final print version? I thought that was pretty standard, even with digital media. (At least, what I’ve seen on beta reading some soon-to-be novels.)

To name names, there is one new author, James Robert Jordan, who has published three novels through CreateSpace: “Bound to Play”, “The Cat’s Eye Pub”, and “Chakat in the Alley”. Jordan obviously didn’t pay to have the first two books proofread, though he’s spent money having his books printed and commissioning excellent covers by furry fan artist Braulio Buendia Arrieta (ABlueDeer).

“Chakat in the Alley” has been proofread; apparently not by CreateSpace since Jordan credits a friend, Charles Honeycutt, as having done so. Jordan says that Honeycutt will go back and proofread the first two novels when he has time, so eventually all three novels (and future ones – has #4 been published yet?) will be without the errors that I complained about. Good; but why wasn’t this done in the first place?

I’d say it was either because he didn’t have the money, or he didn’t care.
A lot of people will let poor grammar and such slide.

And a lot of people won’t. I may be one of the more liberal of fans when it comes to willingness to ignore proofreading errors if the story is good enough. How many book buyers will not spend money for a book by an author who has gotten a reputation for having books full of typographical errors, even if a reviewer says that the story is basically good?

CreateSpace is just the print-on-demand service of Amazon. It takes the file and prints it in paperback book form, but there’s no one doing any work with what’s submitted – in other words, it’s a printer, not a publisher. (There’s also no cost to use CreateSpace; Amazon takes its cut when someone buys the book.)

It’s fair to point out when the proofreading quality of a book is poor, especially when you haven’t been warned that you’re reading a special rough copy. Some people (like me) will assume the story is shoddily written if the spelling and grammar are poor, and people who disagree can just shrug at reading that criticism in the review.

And simply running a spellchecker over the text will not do it. A spellchecker won’t pick up that you wrote ‘ten’ instead of ‘then’ for example.