My 2015 New Year’s resolution, and the only one, is to post at least four times a month. I’d thought about committing to once a week, but that would be too restrictive for me. I can commit to four times a month.
So here we go….my message to indie authors – please proofread!!!
I have read completely or partially three indie novels which I downloaded to my Kindle. By the way, I prefer books with real paper and gorgeous covers. I am appalled at the incorrect punctuation and formatting to the point that I needed to write this post.
Proofreading is very important!!! It should be done by people who know how to proofread or copy edit. Not the next door neighbor, not one of your siblings, not your friends – unless of course they’ve had proofreading or copy editing experience.
Faulty punctuation and formatting makes me spend more time making notes in the text rather than concentrating on the story. Even if I decide to ignore the errors, it’s no use. My eye picks them up anyway.
Just to note a few errors:
- Incorrect punctuation in dialogues. The period, comma or question mark should be inside the closing quotation mark. I just finished a short story by Douglas Kennedy, and the punctuation for the quotes was all wrong! It shocked me so much that I had to verify that maybe I was the wrong one. But no, it wasn’t me.
- Paragraph indentation. Normally in English, the first line of the paragraph is indented. In French no. But in English yes.
- Excessive use of italics. Words, whole phrases, whatever. I assume it’s done for emphasis but I find it very distracting and most of the time doesn’t make any sense. I can understand its use for dream or imaginary sequences, but otherwise, don’t overdo it.
- Inconsistent spacing between paragraphs. Very distracting. Usually it’s done to skip to a new scene or idea. In the books I’m referring to, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to skipping an extra line or two.
- Last but not least, typos. These are the bane of all writers. I think sometimes typos hide out and then reappear without warning. Not to worry – too much – I’ve even found a few typos in novels written by renowned authors whose names I will not mention and in magazine and newspaper articles. Typos don’t bother me as much as the other faux pas.
So, I beg you, indie authors, it’s not enough to have a good story, exciting characters, and compelling action. The punctuation and formatting has to be impeccable.
I just found my second New Year’s resolution – refuse to read books badly proofread.
Rebecca Sloan said:
Proofreading is, alas, becoming a lost art. We live in an era when emails and Tweets and Posts don’t even strive to be grammar perfect. And I know from personal experience how difficult it is to find all those elusive nasty typos. So I agree, it IS important to proofread effectively. Grammatical errors can diminish a great story in very unexpected ways. But that said, there are times it’s okay to break the rules but you have to know the rules to break them. So if that’s what you’re doing–breaking the rules to make a point–BE CONSISTENT with your rule breaking so that it looks like you’re having fun with it rather than just being sloppy. But who am I to preach. The first copies of my first novel still has 12 typos in it and though I got them fixed (the great advantage of print on demand), I know they’re out there and it bothers me way too much!
Theresa Nash said:
Yes. People don’t seem to care about the beauty of a language – the grammar, the spelling, punctuation, the way words are combined to create images. It’s really sad.
Rebecca Sloan said:
And I have 2 errors in my reply. See how subversive they are…
Theresa Nash said:
I read your comment twice and I didn’t find any errors, except if you count the spacing with the dashes??? But…the point about knowing the rules to break is important. For the cases I sited in the blog post it was evident that the authors didn’t know the rules.
Thanks again for commenting, and have a great day.