Friday, May 18, 2012

Beginners Mistakes - Appearance Part II

I'm reading this book... Yeah, I do that sometimes - as often as possible. This book is obviously a beginner's book. Since I started swimming in the waters of writing and publishing, what with the advent of easy self-publishing, I've seen some pretty poor examples. Fortunately those were few and far between. Perhaps it was with the ease of self-publishing came the ease of hiring an editor - I can't say on that one.

We are all fallible. There are few books out there that are totally error free. I just finished Changes by Jim Butcher (an awesome read) and I think I spotted a typo in there, but heck I don't even remember what it was at this point and I just finished the book. That goes to show you how trivial it was. This book I'm reading now, also has very few typos. Such being mostly in the form of two words that should be one or hyphenated, or vice versa.

If such were the only problem, I figure it could be overlooked, but when I came across the first hyphenated word, the hyphen was an underscore. Well, this is a beginner's book, I can overlook that too. Now that I'm around half way through the book, I have yet to encounter a hyphen that isn't an underscore. How can a writer, even a beginner, allow such a mistake to escape their notice?

Another thing I've noticed, especially when reading a few samples of eBooks. Occasionally I've seen paragraphs intents either doubled or missing entirely. This book has that too. It's not a big thing, but it's there.

There are other more normal beginner's mistakes. Things like extra and/or repeated information, characters jumping to the desired conclusion way too easily and for no apparent reason, and decisions made by the characters that were totally out of character. I'm sorry, military people should think in terms of security and they don't in this book - not even remotely.

I was going to review this book - and I may still - but that's not the point of this post. I can understand beginners mistakes, but in this day and age, there's almost no excuse for these kinds of errors. If you can't afford an editor, there are tons of knowledgeable people out there who would be willing to take a look, if not at the whole document, then at a sample - a chapter or two, and for free.

My book, King by Right of Blood and Might, is my first book, and I'll admit it could have been better. I wasn't so confident in my skill that I thought I could bypass an editor. And though it pains me to admit, there are some appearance goofs in there too. A font change that didn't get changed and a sizing issue that also didn't get changed. One of the issues I discussed with the guys who were putting my book together was what font to use on the cover and for the chapter headings. Another issue was the size of the text for the body of the book. I was rather stunned that they didn't do a 'select all' and change the text size, or 'modify style' and change the font for my chapter headings. Sadly, I didn't catch everything they missed so it's still in there.

Live and learn. The beginner's issues with this book I'm reading, I will take up with the author privately. As for the story, beginner issues aside, it has a lot of potential. I like a good quest.


William Kendall said...

One of the perils of self-publishing: getting enough feedback from beta readers. Self editing doesn't work well, because we're usually too close to our own writing to see our own mistakes.

Anna L. Walls said...

I've discovered that my computer is a very good beta reader. Trouble is, it has very little feedback to offer. It just finds all those pesky little words that are spelled similar but sound different, and if doesn't read in missing words. Both I find very helpful.

Anonymous said...

It's nice that you are patient with the mistakes you've found in the book you're reading, but I wonder if all readers are.
I was recently reading a novel by a very prominent indie author (let's just say his name rhymes with Don Nocke) and everywhere a word with a double-f occurred, it was a typo. (You don't realize how many there are until something like this happens). I have to admit, it put me off (there's one) and I stopped reading. How many readers does this happen to? With so many books available at such reasonable prices, how long will readers endure?
Proofreading and editing by a third party are essential for any writer who wants to be taken seriously. The odd typo happens in even traditionally published books, but we have to take every step we can to limit their occurrences. If Indie authors are to counted amongst our traditionally published brethren, we have to go the extra mile.

Anna L. Walls said...

The concept of 'you get what you pay for' is something that concerns me. The way I see it, if someone is going to pay good money for my book, the least I can do is make it the best I know how. This really concerns me with all the free eBooks out there. Are you also getting what you pay for there too??? Most of those are theoretically the hook to draw readers in to more works, and as such they too need to be their very best, but many will not be, and such finds work kinda like the rotten apple in the basket. Many will toss out the whole basket after finding one such bad apple. Had I bought this book, I would have been really bummed. And if I wasn't now a writer myself, I wouldn't think twice about chucking it, but like I said, the story is ok so I might go ahead and read it again. As far as it being a hook, I wouldn't look for that name ever again. I just wouldn't bother.