Sometimes I get really annoyed when I read reviews of indie books. The biggest complaint is spelling and grammar errors. Recently, I read a book that had a slew of these reviews. I ignored them and read it anyway because I thought it sounded good.
Three… I found three errors. Now, I’m not a proofreader, but I am an avid reader and three errors really doesn’t seem that bad to me. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have noticed them at all because I was so into the story if I hadn’t been looking for them.
No indie author has a perfect book. As a matter of fact, the perfect book is somewhat of a myth. Even traditional authors have issues when they go to print. Don’t believe me? Get your hands on some first print runs of some major books.
I believe it is book three of the Anita Blake series when Anita’s car changes color, not once, but twice in a single page. In the Lincoln Rhymes series, they have a “predestined meeting place”, which doesn’t actually make sense. I think it should have been “predetermined,” but I read the book and enjoyed it just fine.
We strive for perfection, but it isn’t always obtainable. Here are some things editors have done to my books:
- Changed all the names of the characters in the D&R books to make them sound more “American.” This is why Eric Clachan, Aislinn’s brother, seems to be Alex Clachan in Tortured Dreams (no, you didn’t imagine that if you caught it). It’s in audiobook form and I can’t change it, so it just exists.
- Changed Gabriel Henders last name to Hendricks, because “Henders isn’t a real last name.” It is and it’s what I wanted. However, it was recently pointed out to me that I missed one of the Hendricks references in Elysium Dreams.
- Notice the double Fionas? Fiona Gentry dies in Elysium Dreams. Fiona Stewart goes to work for the SCTU. Except, there was only one Fiona in my head. An editor changed Lana Gentry to Fiona Gentry because “it sounded better.” When I rejected the change, she refused to finish the project. Since I had already paid her, I eventually gave in and changed it to Fiona because I didn’t want to start all over with a different editor. (I had already done that twice with the book… we’ll get there)
- A different editor “skimmed” through all the killer chapters in Elysium Dreams as well as the violent scenes with Ace or the rest of the SCTU because she couldn’t handle the gore. She didn’t tell me this until she started editing Explosive Dreams. When she got to the fairground scene with Xavier and Ace, she gave up. She’d edited three of the D&R books at that point. Which is why I hired the editor that hated all the names because they weren’t American enough and that led me to hire the editor that refused to continue if I used Lana Gentry as a name for a character.
- I hired a man after the Explosive Dreams debacle. He said he could handle the gore. He edited part of Cannibal Dreams and decided he hated Aislinn Cain and Patterson Clachan so much that he couldn’t continue. He did refund me part of my money, but he’s the only one.
- So, back to a woman to finish Cannibal Dreams. Which she did and then I hired her for Butchered Dreams. Except she was too busy to actually edit either of them and gave them to her friend to edit instead. Her notes were weird because she kept asking me where the romance was. When I finally sent her a note explaining there was no romance, she gave up on editing the book. I could actually see where she lost interest. I had to ask about it because the editor told me this wouldn’t be a problem for her, she like serial killer horror, so why was she now squawking about the lack of romance and the brutality? Eventually, she admitted that she had overbooked and hadn’t gotten to them herself, but had given them to a qualified friend… who only read romance novels.
- The first editor of The Dysfunctional Affair kept putting in “Insert Sex Scene Here.” When I rejected all of those comments, she said I was too difficult to work with. She finished the job, somewhat, and told me she would never work with me again.
- The first time I hired a proof reader was for Elysium Dreams… It had been in the hands of three editors and needed a lot of work. I found a man who said he would love to do it. It contained 102,098 changes. It’s only 75,000 words… Nineteen hours of going through his proofreading changes convinced me that he didn’t really understand the genre I wrote, he kept wanting to remove words like “blood,” “brains,” “hell,” “shit,” “torture,” “skinning,” and anything else violent in nature. He actually suggested that instead of having Ace get jabbed with a hypodermic needle in the neck and it breaking off, that I have her get slapped in the face with an open hand and have that knock her out, but without bleeding.
- The proof reader I hired for Explosive Dreams had some issues too. She demanded I remove the explosion scene at the beginning because it gave the wrong impression.
- The proofer I hired for Dark Cotillion informed me that I didn’t know my mythology well enough to write a book with such characters. She even sent me a long email explaining that Anubis was a Greek god, Fenrir was Sumerian, and Kagutsuchi was Celt. I Googled them all and sent her the links, explaining their origins, their physical traits, their emotional traits, and their powers. She sent me a dismissive response telling me she had a history degree, she was the expert, not Google. She also swore I was the most difficult author she had ever worked with. She also completely ignored the fact that I also have a history degree and might know what I’m talking about.
- But the one that takes the cake, is the husband and wife team that I hired in a desperate attempt to fix Elysium Dreams. They just randomly inserted comments. It’s like they read a paragraph and made a comment about it without reading any of the paragraphs around it. I had no “changes”, but I did have nearly 50,000 comments on how I could improve specific paragraphs that actually wouldn’t have improved them because a paragraph by itself doesn’t tell a whole story. I realized they were failing miserably when they commented that a paragraph would be better if it explained why Aislinn was injured. It had been explained in the two paragraphs immediately above it.
Yes, we try to be perfect, but it’s hard. Editors and proofers are human, even the best ones miss things. However, finding real editors and proofers is like jumping down a slide with a blindfold on in a river full of saltwater crocodiles. Because for every good editor or proofer, there’s at least one that is in it purely for the money and since the industry is booming, it’s easy for them to make a few thousand a week without doing much work.
And like me, you have to be in this business for a while or know people to get a good editor or proofer. We trust these people because we pay them. I have trouble reading my own books, let alone editing them (it embarrasses me, which is weird as hell and I know that). I had my fair share of scammers and people who were just plain lazy. And they have made good money off of me. Nothing I can do about that, except move on and try someone new.
I now have a good editor and a good proofer. But they are human and they do miss things in every book. I figure if I’m at only four or five errors per book, I’m doing really good. I’ve read some books by indies that have had editors and proofers and still had books that looked like a fifth grader wrote them because the punctuation and grammar was atrocious and we won’t even talk about the spelling errors.
Editing is the only disadvantage an indie actually has… We do not have ten or eleven or twelve editors going through our books line by line because we cannot afford to pay that many editors and proofers.