Monday, 29 August 2011

Edit the Darn Things!


romantic couples Pictures, Images and Photos

Over the weekend I purchased an ebook from a publisher that cranks out books in a blur of covers. The excerpt was well written, which is what caught my attention, and I'm all for an occasional hot ménage a trois romance.

It's a good story that has succeeded in keeping my interest. However, there are two things that really bother me.

1. I'm six chapters into the novel, and the book seems to be all about the sex when it's supposed to be a romance.
2. I paid $7.00 for this book, so if I'm gonna plunk down that sort of money for something that's only 50K words, I want a book that isn't scattered with typos and missing punctuation.

Look, if I'm going to pay for a book, it better be of professional quality. I feel cheated when I'm reading along and a word has too many letters, is missing a letter or two, or the author has used the wrong word. I can ignore a few misplaced punctuation marks or missing ones, but the typos and use of wrong words really irks the pee out of me. **And let me clarify something. I'm not speaking of an occasional boo boo because we're all human. I'm speaking of books riddled with errors from page one to the last page.

Hire editors that know what they're doing, darn it!

Also, the lack of good editing does a disservice to the authors and it annoys the reader.

Now before you say, "Well, Faith, you're a professional editor so you're going to notice those things before the average reader does."

Bull! I'm sure most people know the difference between peak and pique. I'm also sure most know how to spell basic, everyday words consisting of only four and five letters.

Every author needs an editor. I don't care how good he or she is at this craft. I've been in publishing twenty-five years and I still need an editor. A writer grows accustomed to looking at the same words in a manuscript. Writers all have their pet words and their habits. One of my habits is my use of colloquialisms. Born and raised in this part of the Appalachians, I have the words and phrases of this area so ingrained in my brain I am totally unaware of them. It also seems like with each manuscript, I adopt a new pet word. In one manuscript, I may rely on look/looked/looking; whereas, another one I might fixate on urge/urged/urging. Any good author or editor will agree, no matter how professional and knowledgeable he or she is, errors will still slip through because we're blind to our own mistakes.

And I'm not even going to get into editing for plot problems, inconsistencies, characters acting out of character, etc. Let's just keep it simple, shall we?

Anyway, while I was shopping for reading material the other day, I also came across a NY publisher who has titles at one of my favorite e-book distributors. The prices of their books forced a lump to my throat, but I sat back and thought, "It's ridiculous to pay $15.99 or higher for a NY-published e-book, but they're edited well, so it might actually be worth paying more for them just to get a more enjoyable reading experience and therefore more bang for my buck."

However, the budget makes the final decision, LOL.

I write under six pen names and work with several different e-publishers. What I've noticed is that most of the smaller e-pubs seem to edit much, much better than some (I said some, not all) of the larger ones. Two in particular put my manuscripts through three to four rounds of edits. And one of those two publishers also uses a line editor, then the head editor, and then the publisher herself goes over the ms.

Now that is professionalism and attention to detail! Several pairs of eyes catch everything from a quote mark turned the wrong way to a typo to the use of a double word (like the the). It also shows their love for the written word. And it's also their dedication to seeing that readers get an ebook of the utmost quality.

Now, back to bug #1 above. When the heck did pure erotica become the same thing as romance? There is erotica, and there is erotic romance—and then there is porn fiction. Erotica is about the sexual journey. Erotic romance is about the love story with heavy sexual tension and then sex included. The graphic sex is for the heat, the method of getting the reader all hot and bothered. And porn fiction is for instant sexual gratification that often degrades one of the sexual partners (and speaking of sexy fiction, I'll be at Savvy Authors.com Sept. 16th talking about Boom Chicka Wow Wow: Crude vs. Classy, so mark your calendars).

Supposedly I purchased an erotic romance, but so far it has been pure erotica. Another irritating thing is that the book was presented as het ménage, but it definitely has m/m scenes between the two heroes. I write m/m romance, so I'm not dissing the genre. However, when I want a het romance, that's what I'm expecting when I buy a het title, yanno?

Do some publishers believe readers are unable to tell the difference? Maybe these publishers believe the readers don't care? To me, presenting something as romance when it's really erotica is false advertising. Sadly, as a result, the author gets the brunt of the publisher's blunders.

Readers slap down their cash or plastic expecting to get what they pay for, so give it to them. Is that so much to ask?

Okay, next on the agenda...

I'd like to mention an online event with a contest, too. Today I'm over at Interracial Multicultural Books, presenting a great excerpt from one of my IR titles, and if you read the excerpt and answer the question after it, send your answer to me (details on the IRMCbooks site), and one winner will be chosen to win some Omnibucks from ARe.

I am a firm believer the color of one's skin makes absolutely no difference in anything, and love knows no boundaries. Some of my work, such as Queen of the Storm and The Darkness of Sable, involves IR couples. Today at IRMC Books, you'll get a taste of paranormal IR romance from a full-length novel which is available in print and ebook. Besides, Thomas, the hero, is so dreamy! Go check him out! www.IRMCbooks.com

Visit my two websites at www.FaithBicknell.com and www.MollyDiamond.com


25 comments:

Anthology Authors said...

I'm so with you, Faith. When I'm converting our books, if I see an error, I have to read through the entire book to ensure there aren't any others. This does happen even after an content editor and two-three line editors go through it.

Marci

Kissa Starling said...

I agree with you as well. Some small presses are definitely more 'with it' than others. I work with both ends of the spectrum. Another set of eyes are always a good thing. Waiting is another good tip that many don't want to use with their writing/publishing. The end result is what we're all working toward and I'm hoping that as ebooks become more and more popular quality editing will be commonplace.

Carlene Rae Dater said...

I always send my manuscripts to my Beta readers before I even submit them to a publisher. Still, there are mistakes. A good publisher will find most of them and correct the final copy. Unfortunately, there are those sloppy, lazy presses that give all E-books a bad name.

Jaime Samms said...

Her Hear. I heartily agree, and I've been very picky about the publishers I work with for exactly that editing reason. My first editor, and my first publisher instilled a very strict standard in me that hasn't failed me yet. :D

As for the erotica/erotic romance, yeah. labeling is hard. But necessary, I think You want what you want, and I've had the opposite experience of picking up a menage touted to be m/m/f and finding the guys hardly touch at all. That's very disappointing when I don't really read het...

Harmony Evans said...

I was reading a non-fiction print book this weekend where every "for" was spelled "four". The content was informative, but the mistakes were downright distracting. Someone should have copyedited the copy editor. Maybe I'm lucky, but I haven't seen too many editing trainwrecks in the eBooks I've been reading.

Robyn M Speed said...

I was sent a self published book once and I got about five pages into it before I just couldn't take it any longer! The writing was dreadful, the lack of correct grammar, the poor choice of words. I can't stand a badly written book let alone a badly edited book.

Just because it's an e-book doesn't mean a reader will be any less tolerant.

I'm with you Faith...it would have driven me mad!

Faith said...

Marci, we've seen some doozies when we worked together, didn't we?

Kissa, you are a talented writer and very dedicated to your craft. Your tip is a good one. I use it myself. It's amazing what you'll see when you set an ms aside for a while and then return to it.

I agree with you, Carlene. When ebooks are turned into POD, few libraries will purchase them for that very reason. I went through heck trying to get some of my local libraries to purchases POD and printed indie books and was told they're lower quality books.

The lousy labeling is so frustrating, Jaime. Some can be difficult to label, sure, but if it's got both m/m and het, it should be labeled such, if possible. It really irked me to buy a het menage romance m/f/m and the first sex scene was pure m/m.

For when it should've been four? Oh, Harmony, that's even worse for non-fiction because the rules for non-fic are even stricter than fiction.

Hi Robyn! I've encountered a few books like that as well.

Jaime Samms said...

Harmony, I don't know if I would be able to trust a thing the book or the author had to say if they didn't know that basic a thing. I can only think perhaps English wasn't that person's first language, but then, if that was the case, someone for whom it is should have caught that...ouch.

JM said...

You know, this is your reputation you are putting out for the public. If you put poorly edited crap out there, it's going to come around and bite you in the ass. I think building a platform can work in both directions, too. If you work and put yourself out there with quality stories, your readership will grow. If you put crap out, word will spread in the opposite direction NOT to buy you. Word of mouth is a very strong thing. If you don't give readers what you promise, they get upset, and in this technological age, they may have the ears of thousands of people.
And those authors that choose not to edit? I think they're shooting themselves in the foot.
You need to have pride in what you put out!
Great post, by the way.

Faith said...

JM, I couldn't agree more!

And thank you!

Tony-Paul said...

I made a comment on Realms of SCiFi about agreeing before reading this article. Now that I've read it, I agree 1000% d every complaint I've had so precisely I could've written this blog myself. I was told that readers seeing errors wouldn't blame the author but would know the editor didn't catch them. My response to that was: Oh yeah? Nope--they're going to say, wow! she sure was careless! Not...Wow! HER EDITOR was careless. Of course most readers won't know the difference in grammar except the more well-read ones and they're not going to think about editors and such,either. They're going to blame the source...the author. Here's hoping a few publishers see your blog, too.

Faith said...

Thanks, Toni! And you're correct...it is the author who gets most of the blame.

However, it's not just print and ebooks that irks me, it's other things too. I hate it when I buy makeup that is nothing like it's advertised. Packaged food is another thing that is often a disappointment because it's nothing like the ads.

I think Emmy had a similar post a few months back, but hers centered on things like laundry det, etc.

Kari Thomas said...

WELL said, Faith! The lack of editing is starting to become a major issue, and it's hurting those of us who DO have properly edited books. I'm also a Freelance Editor and I've actually been asked to edit books that were ORIGINALLY edited AND published as is! I don't know where, exactly, the blame lies. Publisher or Author? I'm leaning towards publishers who hire people "claiming" to be editors AND then not checking/proving it.

Sadly, this will continue. Maybe if we start complaining more about it, something might start to change for the better?

Great post!
Hugs, Kari Thomas, www.authorkari.com

Faith said...

Afternoon, Kari!

I think part of the problem is that there is such a glut of manuscripts out there that publishers are inundated with them and are struggling to get books out on the market. However, that's still no excuse for not editing properly.

Sure, I want to enjoy a story that sweeps me away, but I want what I'm reading to make sense and be easy to read in a manner that I'm not confused on whose pov I'm in, if the character is skipping along the sidewalk or if her head is doing it (dangling modifiers), and if the hero climbed to the top of a peak or a pique, lolol.

Anthology Authors said...

Many small/indy presses have just as small staff. For instance, I do all of the conversion and bookkeeping. I market, edit, and so on. More than once, I've stayed up all night to read through an MS where I found one error. I've postponed releases when I find errors. It is hard to find good editors. I give them a test. If they pass the test, I give them our standards and rules.

A while ago, I had someone take the test who went on and on about how good of an editor they were. So, I had them take the test. Um, yeah, no. I offered them a proofreading job to get some training. That person was so offended, they made ridiculous demands about what to get paid for proofreading, after I'd already explained what the pay would be.

People no longer know comma rules; they don't know dialogue rules; they use words improperly. It drives me nuts. And this from college graduates.

You have to wonder what people are taught in school at all levels.

Faith said...

They're not being taught much of anything in grade school or high school. I'm not saying all public schools are that way, but with the government being such a PITA and insisting on testing, testing, testing, which gobbles up the teaching time...ugh. Need to walk away from school discussions, lmao. It is my hot button!

Seriously, tho, my youngest dau was put in a tutoring class for math. All the tutor did was give the kids the answers. Seems to be the same problem in many schools for all subjects.

I spend so much time teaching her at home in grammar, punctuation, science, history (I suck a math), and what's worse is she's not allowed to bring the books home for me to use to help her.

Kids are suffering at the hands of our stupid, controlling gov, and then the gov wonders why so many people are illiterate. I think a lot of this particular problem, in U.S. schools anyway, is bleeding into the publishing world.

Anthology Authors said...

Don't even get me started on the schools. Lily was having issues with math, because of the stupid strategies they teach at school. The teacher told me that I needed to spend time with her at home on it.

Um, okay. The school has her for 5.5 hours. What the hell are they teaching them? Everyone knows the answer to that one.

I have bought a few books that were mislabeled. The blurb made one seem like it was a time travel/paranormal. It had neither. As I love time travel/paranormal, you can imagine how pissed I was.

I am very careful as a publisher to state exactly what it is. For instance, if it's primarily het, but has a little bit of menage, I will state that. If it's a mystery with light romance, that will be listed. I do that because I hate it when I purchase something that promises one thing, but it delivers something else.

Marci

Anthology Authors said...

BTW, I see these errors in NYC books as well. They want to charge you $15, but they aren't putting the time and money into them any more.

Janice said...

Some times when I'm reading a book and there's too many errors, I set it down and don't come back.

I've seen a publisher advertising for authors with the promise of their book going to release with in a matter of weeks. I keep thinking and how is the editing?

I just bet one editor gives it a quick scan and that's it.

Janice~

Faith said...

I've found errors in NY-published books too, but I have to say they're few in comparison.

Janice, I think that quick scan is becoming more and more common.

Anthology Authors said...

Well, you know me, Faith, I'm a comma nazi. I love commas to be at specific places or not to be there when they aren't supposed to. A lot of people are leaving out commas where they belong and putting them where they don't. I like dependent clauses to be separated by commas if they come at the beginning of a sentence. I don't want to see a comma before a dependent clause unless it's called for. Most of the time, it's not.

There are fewer typos in NYC books, but there are some big name authors whose books are crap. I've always wondered how those got published. I wonder if they have a writing couch like Hollywood has a casting couch. (g)

Faith said...

I think what has happened with those particular authors is that their first coupla books were such huge successes with an instant readership that they're permitted to slide on a lot of grammar/punct because the publisher is guaranteed big returns. It's just a theory, and I have no basis for it other than things I've noticed over time.

Anthology Authors said...

I'm not just talking about punctuation and grammar, Faith. Some of the stories... The blurb sounds great. Page 201, or whatever I flip it to, is usually so lame I want to burn the book. You know what a bibliophile I am. That says something. (g)

Faith said...

Nah, I understand, Marci. I really do. I do the same thing. I'll read the first coupla pages, page over to the middle and read a few, then page toward the end and do the same. And if it's a historical novel, I often check to see if the book has any references listed. It shows the author has done his/her homework. I hate it when I buy a historical novel that have stupid things in it like a zipper in a 12th century dress. Oh, yeah. There are some big boo boos out there in fiction-ville, lol.

My mother loves history of all kinds (and I guess that's where I got my love for it too), and one thing that will make her toss a historical novel aside is time period errors, contemporary words that stick out like sore thumbs--not dialogue in the sense of making it easier to read when it's the era of thee, thou, and thine--but when you read a word that's definitely pop culture in Victorian times, it's a big oops, lol.

Anthology Authors said...

So, I shouldn't use "cowabunga, dude" in my latest 19th century novel? ;)