Thursday, March 06, 2008

Where have all the proofreaders gone?

I’ve occasionally mentioned my interest in eBooks, my own novels are available in eBook form, and I have purchased many eBooks in the past few years. However, eBooks share the problem that some websites seem to have— a lack of proofreaders who know English well enough to eradicate problems. I’m not saying authors should be perfect, because I certainly am not. What I am saying is that there should be a few eyeballs trained on these works before they are put before the eyes of the public.

Here are just a few examples from my eBook library, sold by Fictionwise. I could have listed many, many, more, but these should give readers of Pam’s Pages some idea of the problem.

“But now she saw the affect it had on the women-- and men-- of the settlement....”
“...these feelings, but I swear, I’ll try to reign them in and--”
“Sighting down the laser, Riadaon focussed on Liane, who was arguing with the trader.”
“And what of I and Tenia?”
“... and here she was, forced to sit and watch people sing, juggle, dance, and do acrobats.”
“Maybe whoever is was didn’t mean her harm.”
(Soul of the Forgotten, Angela Verdenius, Wings ePress)

A few of the local’s watched her with avid interest.”
“And I do wish things could have been different between my father and I...”
(Mountains’ Captive, Michelle Pillow, New Concepts Publishing)

“The com-link in the kitchen trilled and Sarah answered it. ff”
“Sarah thought she saw Bethan’s mouth twitch as if she was trying to keep from smiling.”
(Promises to Keep, Janet Miller, New Concepts Publishing)

“He barely even registered the fact that their were two women.”
“A flicker of disappoint pierced the haze of contentment that had enveloped her....”
“She’d never suffered unduly during long, frequent draughts, however, hardly given it a thought.”
“She sensed that it was his way of protecting her from what she hadn’t wanted to see, making it appear that he was merely fondling her when.”

(The Portal, Kaitlyn O’Connor, New Concepts Publishing)

“Managing to sew dissension gave Venice no pleasure but it was obvious that she had done so.”
“One of the first buildings built, after afa the living quarters, was a gym....”
“Dylenski rose and reluctantly dropped hi wife’s hand to the covers.”
“...and took his hand again, which as close to a gesture of affection as she ever initiated with him.”
(Trinity on Tylos, Pamela J. Dodd, Whiskey Creek Press)

Web content is worse, if anything. Since it tends to be around for only a short time, sites often have similar issues. I found these items today, and I didn’t spend long hunting. These entries are excerpts from news articles on the Access North Georgia website—
In her position as student body president, was a member of the university's board of trustees.”
"The wreck is blocking all lanes of I-85, it is suggested to stay out of the area if at all necessary."

I also found this today on a post-secondary school’s website: “You should recieve a certificate indicating you have completed the survey.”

From time to time, I’ve been asked to serve as an editor or proofreader. I will edit, but I don’t like to proofread. Maybe no one else does, either. It sure looks that way, doesn’t it?

March 28 update:

Ironically, since I posted this, I have followed a some online discussions of a similar topic, limited to New Concepts Publishing. Here's a link to a "Dear Author"blog which is covering the "lack of editing" discussion, which goes beyond proofreading, of course, but in publishing, editors do both, of course.

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At Mar 10, 2008, 9:57:00 PM, Blogger Sun Singer said...

Happy Birthday, Pam.

As many reviewers have noted, POD books are especially bad on average when it comes to insufficient copyediting and proofreading.

One problem, which may well be the same for e-books and websites, is that it's very difficult for most authors to proofread their own books; e-book and POD publishers don't usually supply editors, and hiring an editor will usually cost the author more than s/he's likely to make on the book.

I'm not sure how to fix this problem. I can read a manuscript dozens of times and feel certain it's clean, only to have my wife look at it once and find lots of stuff I missed.


At Mar 10, 2008, 11:02:00 PM, Blogger Pamela J. Dodd said...

I know, I know. My hubby can find many things wrong with whatever I write!

As for ebooks, some of them are "converted" via electronic programs, which introduce weird things, such as the "ff" in Pillow's book, or "afa" in my own. I'm quite sure I didn't leave any non-words hanging around.

When I complained to my editor at Whiskey Creek Press, she just said, "These things happen." I do think letting them happen gives the eBook publishers a bad reputation, and keeps their books from being judged as "professional."

That said, I have read a few which were absolutely clean and error-free. Tigra from Zumya and The Key from L&L Dreamspell were both as well edited and proofread as works from the big guys, so it can be done.

And thanks for the birthday wishes. I'd rather keep adding years than face the alternative!



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