My husband and I had a disturbing (to me) conversation. The subject was self-published books and the failure of some authors to edit their work.
Don’t freak. I’m not against self-publishing.
I’ve downloaded self-published books and found some excellent reads. But I’ve also paid $0.99 and felt like I’ve been totally ripped off. Some authors take care to have their work professionally edited or at least proofread by someone competent in grammar, spelling, and punctuation before asking people to pay money to read it. Others don’t even seem to know how to use spell check.
As an OCD-ish writer, I’m appalled at the latter type. I’m not talking about a couple of typos or some formatting issues, but numerous grammatical issues on every page.
Had they never heard of the Chicago Manual of Style? The dictionary?
With the ease of self-publishing, it feels like the slush pile has moved from the agent or editor’s desk to the internet. It’s now the consumer’s job to determine which books are worth of their time and money. Before I download a self-pubbed ebook (even a free one), I check out the sample pages to see what’s what. But I don’t do this very often for the same reason I don’t shop at Nordstrom Rack. I don’t have the time to sort through the rubble to find the gems.
I can read through the occasional typo. This blog post may have a typo or two. Typos even find their way into fully edited, traditionally published books, but I find a plethora of errors distracting and annoying. Most word processing programs do a decent job of proofreading automatically. Not bothering to use these functions is plain lazy.
But let me get to the part that disturbed me, my husband’s assertion that most people don’t care about any of these errors. I’m picky because I’m a writer. The average reader just wants to know what happens in the story and routinely skims through sentences, paragraphs, sometimes whole pages.
Anyone else feeling nauseous at this point? I’m agonizing over every word that goes onto the page and readers really just want an outline of what happens? Is this true?
Help me out here. Readers, do you care about spelling, grammar, etc.? Does it affect your enjoyment of the book? Writers, what do you think? I’d really love to hear from some self-published authors on this, too.
Does grammar matter or has it gone the way of hand-written letters and perfect penmanship? Are spelling and punctuation irrelevant?