A Playground for Authors Jason White and Michael Schutz-Ryan

Book Reviews: Calling out Grammar Nazis

Angered, insulted editor bites their computerOne reason I fell in love with Amazon’s site way back in the late 90s, and still love it and among others sites now, is because of the reviews. I can spend hours reading other people’s thoughts on books, movies, and music I want to check out. It’s a great way to see if you might like the thing before spending your hard earned cash. I hate it when you buy a book/movie/cd without testing it first in some way and realizing that you hate it.

Reviews are also a great way to see if  the people producing the stuff you already like is any good or not. Your favourite band comes out with a new album, you just might want to check out what people thinks first before buying it. I’m old enough now to know how bands can evolve (which is great), but not evolve in the way you like. It’s almost like a relationship that’s come to an end because you can no longer see eye to eye.

No band makes the perfect album every time. It’s the same with favourite authors. It’s nearly impossible to like everything one person or a group of people put out there.

So, yeah, reviews are great for this. I’m such a review reading freak that I’ll read reviews after having read/watched/listened to something just to see if people felt similar to the way I feel.

Yet, ever since the ebook and self-publishing revolution we experienced about three or four years ago, and are still experiencing, there’s been a shift in reviews when concerning books. As the title suggests, yes, it has to do with the self-proclaimed (as most of these are self-proclaimed, I might add) Grammar Nazi!

Now, let’s get one thing straight, first. Most avid readers are Grammar Nazis. If you love reading, there’s nothing more jarring than typos and misspellings yanking you out of the story over and over again. Think of it as a terrible reminder that yes, you are reading a book and that real life hasn’t truly melted away into the written page. When they are constant, as in every page or so, if not more, it’s like being slapped in the face.

We have to get something else straight, too. All books have typos and misspellings. It’s impossible to find all mistakes within a short piece of the written word, never mind long pieces.

When some folks first started self-publishing because the stigma associated with doing so was suddenly gone, some did so with feverish excitement. It was easy to do, too. All one had to do was hire or learn how to convert their stories into ebooks, and one was done.

But this was not so. Some of these excited folks went and published without thinking of also hiring an editor.

Big mistake.

Very big mistake.

Read here for further thoughts on hiring an editor before publishing your stuff. I cannot stress how important that is. Also read this by author Shana Festa, a great article on the same topic with some advice to publishing writers.

One reason it’s so important to hire an editor is because of a small percentage of self-published authors who do publish without that ever important editor. And this has made a lot of legit self-published and small press writers look bad.

As I read through reviews today, it’s difficult to miss reviews that say, “This book is great, but could have used a professional editor.” I at first took these comments seriously. After having read a few of these books that are getting dragged through the dirt because of the odd misspelling or typo that did not have any affect on my reading experience, I have to question why some of these reviewers need to point out these rather small problems. It’s become popular to say such things, even if it’s not all that true.

My point is, I’ve read many books so far in my life, and all of them have had a typo or misused comma here and there. Most books I’ve read are from the big publishing houses with well-paid editors. Most smaller market publishing houses I’ve read books from (e.g Severed Press, Permuted Press, Wicked Jester, Deadite Press) have had approximately the same amount of missed problems as the big ones.

On the same note, I have read a few that were so terribly written, the author probably doesn’t know the difference between there, their, and they’re. But those stories were pretty bad in the first place.

My point: all books have typos, misspellings, and grammar mistakes. It’s inevitable. This post is a call to action for reviewers to stop the bullshit. Stop pointing this out in your review unless you’re the type to mention it in every book review you do. Make it your tag line. “Before I begin, let’s just get this out of the way: this book needs an editor. There, now on to the story.”

It’s too easy to say that small publishers and independent writers needed an editor before publishing their book, but what these reviewers don’t realize is that there is an editor behind those works. Professional ones, too. That’s why when you read a small press/self-published book and compare it to a big publisher, you’re going to find a  similar amount of mistakes. Some have more, some have less.

I beg you to get over it. Unless you’re a professional editor with a BA in English, or the book is seriously flawed grammatically and spelling-wise, just don’t do it.

Think for yourselves, man! And just enjoy the book you bought.

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