Sunday, September 18, 2011

Are Readers Stupid? (CONTEST!!!)

Now, before you grab the pitchforks and form a mob, let me just say, my answer is "NO!"

But I wonder if all industry professionals feel that way?

Case in point: I recently read a few short stories with the intent of doing reviews on them. None of them gained higher than a 3.5, in my opinion (and we all know reviews are simply that - opinion.) There were editing issues, including punctuation, grammar, and spelling. There were plot holes and dialog issues. There were continuity issues, and issues with fact-checking. Even some of the sex scenes had issues. My reviews pointed out all these, and I honestly tried to be fair.

I mentioned to another industry professional that perhaps I was too picky to be a reviewer. I expected them to say something like, "Poppycock! Readers deserve honest, hard-hitting reviews, and authors should take notice, old chap!" (because everyone's British in my head). What I got was an agreement with my assessment, and, I quote: "I'm not even sure if many people know what line editing is; they just want to be entertained."

O.o   orly?

This reminded me of something I'd read another author say a couple years ago. I'm paraphrasing here, because I'd have to dig back through thousands of someone else's blog to even find the reference, and frankly I'm too lazy to do that, but the general idea was that it's okay to get a couple historical facts wrong in your work because most readers don't know shit about history, nor do they care.



That was my reaction back then, and it still is. It's okay to give sub-par work because no one will notice??? Seriously?

If I'd purchased the books I read for review, I'd have e-mailed the publisher and demanded my money back. Some of them hadn't even been edited--or if they had, the editor needs to be fired. I've heard all along there's a feeling of ebooks not being quite as professional as print books, and gee...I wonder why that's the thought? Is it because we deliver crap?

Now, I know what you're thinking: some mistakes are honest. Take my works for example. I've found typos in the finished product a couple of times. I can tell you, with all honesty and integrity, that my books go through three edits before they're submitted, and another three to four with my editor, and then the proofreader gets them. Things still get through. The fact of the matter is the human brain sees what it wants. It forces things to make sense. Otherwise, this passage would be unreadable:

I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.

And we all know there are two kinds of people in the world: the kind who noticed the car in the background during the theatre release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring ( and those who were too caught up in the movie to see it. So...perhaps...just perhaps...there might be some small vein of reality in what my industry professional friend said about readers just wanting to be entertained. But...

But herein lies my question, and the entire reason for the post. Readers - what do you guys and gals think? Do you notice typos? Do you notice when a character uses a word that wasn't around when the book is set? (say he uses the phrase "ass munch" in a historical set in Victorian England or some similarly glaring WRONG) Do you notice when spellings of characters names change? Do you notice when sexual positions are just completely beyond the realm of possibility for the human body to conform to? Do you notice plot flaws, slow/unbelievable dialog, and the characters referring to each other by their names 8,000 times throughout the story?? (okay - to be fair, 8,000 is an exaggeration. I didn't count the times. But a lot. A. Lot.)

IF you notice them, do you chalk them up to things that just slipped through, or are you (as I was) insulted?

Well? To sweeten the deal, and so you'll have a reason to air your complaints, leave a comment below with your thoughts, and I'll pick a random winner to receive a free pdf copy of my newest release, "Relearning the Ropes." In which I hope to God we found all the typos. :-p


  1. Wow! Another author was saying the same thing in his blog the other day and I commented on his too. All I can say is, yes, I do notice if there are mistakes with spelling and some punctuation. Maybe not so much a word not being of the correct time period. Even though I might still enjoy the book in question, it does take something away from it. Who wants to spend money on a book that you have a hard time getting through when basic words are not spelled correctly, not me, it makes me disappoints me that someone didn't take the time to check the file before it is sent through. And, while, as you said most people can still read severely misspelled words, it makes your brain work twice as hard to decipher what is being read. When I read a book, I'm reading it to enjoy it, not do a spelling or English test inside my head.

  2. Hi Mary! Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad to see I'm not the only author who is aware of these issues. I agree with you - when I have to stop and think about what I just read, it takes me completely out of the story, and it's no fun anymore. One or two typos I can totally relate to. Even three or four, if the book is long and they're spaced out a bit. But more than that is just sloppy, IMHO.

  3. Well, Mary, it looks like you're my winner! Drop me a line at dcjuris at stny dot rr dot com and I'll send along your pdf copy of Relearning the Ropes! :-) Congratulations!!