Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Let down.

I recently read a novel – I’ll refrain from naming it – that shocked me with its content. Random acts of sex and violence? No. Lack of basic research? No. Considering the author had a reputable agent and a division of Random House published the book, I was horrified by the amount of typographical errors within its pages. Furthermore, it was endorsed on its cover by a best-selling writer whose work I enjoy. In hindsight, I find myself wondering if he had, in fact, bothered to read it.

One or two errors, you can forgive, but these were, to be honest, far too plentiful and even an amateur editor/proof reader should have easily spotted them.

This angers me for three reasons. Firstly, whoever is responsible is letting the author down. No one can spot all their own mistakes, no matter how hard they try. Writers need to trust the people proofing their book. This is shoddy workmanship.

Secondly, it reflects badly both on the agent and the publisher. It certainly doesn’t instil faith in the publishing industry. It’s hardly any wonder authors are taking to self-publishing online. In fact, it has helped me make that decision.

Thirdly, I am angry because it’s letting down the reader. I do not enjoy tripping over poor punctuation, bad grammar and duplicated words. If I have paid good money for a book, I expect it to be fully proofed. It is an insult to expect the reader to put up with it.

Am I over-reacting? Possibly, but I’d certainly not rush out and buy another book by the same author. 


  1. Hi Serena, I was browsing through the lovely people who took part in our live blog share yesterday (thank you for joining in!) I SO agree with you about this, but authors have little control over the final product. I used to have all my books with Random House, I still am for A Hollow Crown and I am desperate to get the rights back to get the book re-edited and tidied up. Random House don't want to know about a re-print or re-edit so I have to put up with what is, in my opion, a shoddily produced book. As far as I'm aware a couple of my US mainstream books have dreadful typos in them as well. This is one reason why I so support Indie writers and I prefer my indie produced books. There might be some errors in them, but they are MY errors and MY responsibility - and it is my decision to either ignore them or do a reprint!

    Oh... and by the way... :-) Your name was selected for the giveaway prize! Could you e-mail me so we can make delivery arrangements author AT helenhollick DOTR net

  2. Hi Helen. The book I've just finished reading was published by Mantle, an imprint of PanMacmillan, and I stumbled over errors in that, so it seems it's the same with all of them. I was cheeky and notified the author, not because I was nitpicking, but so he'd be aware of them for a re-print at some time. I've been doing a lot of proofing recently, so I'm probably ultra-aware. Still, I'm sure I'll miss some glaring mistakes in my own work.
    How exciting about the prize. I'm thrilled. Thank you so much. Not sure about the email address you've given. I may have to private message you on fb with the info.
    Bright blessings!