Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Small Presses

I read a lot of books this summer that were released by small presses. I'm not quite sure how I landed on this path. Some of the books were really good. Some were less good. A couple, published only as e-books, were so badly written I couldn't finish them.

I learned a lot by this venture into small press publishing. One of the things most of these books had in common was a desperate need for solid editing. I don't mean "cut out the fat" or "kill your babies" editing. I mean basic line editing, checking for grammar and punctuation, etc.

I know for a fact that authors of three books I read paid a professional to edit the manuscript. Three authors, three different professionals. The authors got rooked. Two of these books were so badly edited that I was embarrassed for the authors.

On top of not having proper punctuation, spelling and grammar, two books, both written by so-called experts, had such glaring errors in the text that I almost set them aside.

We'll take one example. One writer professed to be very knowledgeable about dog breeds, yet she didn't know the difference between a sight hound and a scent hound. A central plot twist required an Afghan to sniff out a suspect hiding behind a pile of garbage. Afghans are sight hounds. She needed a blood hound or some scent other hound that uses its nose rather than its eyes to find prey. That fact alone soured the book for me.

If I have any requests for authors, it is this. Check your facts. If you are an expert on something, don't make boneheaded mistakes. If you are not good at grammar, have at least two different grammarians go through your manuscript. True, it's possible that the manuscript left the author's computer in perfect shape, only to be "fouled" by an editor at a publisher who messed it up.

Oh, one more thing. Seems like e-books are full of formatting gremlins. I've seen sections in a chapter suddenly have multiple lines centered, when all the rest is flush left. Or, I've seen changes in font. And I've seen sloppy mistakes in indentation, pagination, etc.

For me, as a reader that likes debut authors, lack of critical reading and editing turns me off. I probably won't buy another book from these authors. Sad but true. Their first impressions weren't all that good. IMHO.

1 comment:

  1. I think your straight forward comments are refreshing. You know my work, professionally edited once, but rewritten, should i change editor for the final?