Bullying and internet-bashing is a rather nasty phenomenon. Very playground and equally if not more damaging.
I’ve read a few blog posts with authors complaining about bad reviews. Six and two threes sweethearts. Not everyone will like your books. A reasoned critical review is valid, and maybe it might help. When you put yourself in print you need to acquire thick skin. Rule number one.
What is really annoying me though, are the comments and posts from British authors who are getting criticised for their faulty spelling by Americans because they have not written in Americanese. They are seriously telling British authors that their books are full of spelling errors because they are correctly, note correctly, written in English.
I mean really WHOA, right there.
Most of us Brits know that Americans can’t spell. They miss the u out of flavour and colour, the l and e out of jewellery, it’s tire instead of tyre, and curb instead of kerb. Curb is what you do when you try and rein in Americans who can’t spell.
They even substitute different words: fenders, hoods, and trunks instead of bumpers, bonnets and boots. A fender is in front of the fireplace, a hood is attached to your jacket and goes over your head, and a trunk is what you get sent to boarding school or university.
But they don’t realise. Or realize.
Here, from one of my many dictionaries, in this case an ancient one of my mother’s, is a list of comparative spellings.
Now, if I was going to have a serious go at Americanese, it would have to be at the use of the word of. It actually drives me up the wall. Or rather off of the wall?
So, Americans look out the window and walk out the door. This is a big grammar fail in the UK. You look out OF the window and walk out OF the door.
And when you want to jump off something or ask Edward to take his hands off Bella, there is no ‘of’.
It’s not ‘take your hands off of me’. Or jump off of the wardrobe or whatever. Truth is, in English, that use of the word of is a sign of a very poor education.
A purse in English is not a handbag. I struggle when I read about American women putting their purses here, there, and everywhere. A purse contains money. Simple as that. It may well go in your handbag. Maybe American women don’t have a purse. Or do they put their purse in their purse?
It all makes me quite pissed off. No, not pissed. Pissed in English, is when you are rat-arsed and may well have put your purse down when you shouldn’t have done and then forgotten where it is.
So, to all American reviewers and writers out there, we accept the rather appalling mess you have made of our Anglo-Saxon language and we don’t complain, so could you possibly refrain from telling British authors they don’t know how to spell? Although I’d be interested to see any reviews where Brits complain that an American author has a lot of spelling errors… And that means a genuine comment not a sarcastic one.
British authors should not have to either explain or justify their spelling. Neither should Australians, Canadians, Indians, or anyone else who speaks, reads, and writes English.
Reading an Americanese book yesterday, I got to the end and was intrigued by an offer from the author. It’s the first time I’ve seen something like this, and she had a brief section called ‘About editing’.
In this, she moaned about the fact that traditional publishing companies would put a book through four or five editors whereas indie authors could only realistically have one or two.
She added that people probably noticed indie books had more typos – I would say some not all, and trad books have them too – and she appreciated that it detracted from the enjoyment of the story, which is true.
So, to get to the punchline, she was offering Five! Whole! Cents! for every typo spotted in her book. The caveat being of course, that she had to agree it was a typo, so no, all you Brits, you can’t eke your revenge and get rich by picking on her American spelling.
I’d noticed some when I was reading through. The usual combination of punctuation, eg a glaring missing full point, some spelling (in any version of English) and missing words, wrong word order. Amazingly I do not read a book with pencil and paper to hand to note down all typos, unless I am being paid to edit. And when I get to the end I am certainly not going to go through it all again for a few hours to earn the princely sum of less than one US dollar. Or, in real money, sixty pence.
In fairness it wasn’t badly edited, just not perfect or near perfect.
So, being a helpful roughseas, I sent a nice email explaining why I wasn’t going to be taking up her generous offer, and suggesting instead that if she wanted the remaining errors cleaned up she should go back to her editor/proofreader and tell them they hadn’t done a good enough job.
Of course, if she had only contracted for the industry standard of two or three reads, and she’d signed it off, then her editor/proofreader would probably suggest a) she take a walk b) charge more than five cents per error or c) suck it if they were desperate for repeat work from her.
I am sure there will be readers out there who will take her up on her offer. No doubt if they find even one of the errors, they will be excited and proud, and contemplate a lucrative career as an editor. At five cents to read a whole book? Three pence in real money.
She’s not replied.
And while I thought it was mildly amusing and an interesting gimmick, I don’t think it is doing a lot for raising the standards of self-publishing.
When I edit for someone, I expect them to read the final version thoroughly, not just scan it because they know the story inside out. I do too by this stage. I then want it back for me to double check in case they have done anything silly on their reading. But the author’s last read through is their chance to say if they aren’t happy about anything or point out if I have missed any errors.
Asking readers to proofread a published book is ridiculous. It is unprofessional. And it is insulting to ask someone to take the time to re-read a book, find and note the errors, write and send an email for a few cents or pence. If readers are so interested, they would probably do it anyway, ‘Look, look, I spotted an error, eagle-eyed me!’ But don’t give up your daytime job.