The three most common errors writers make…

… based on a totally unscientific survey of reading and editing lots of books, are, in no particular order:

1) Missing full point/full stop/period

The cupboard door was open

It should be:

The cupboard door was open.

2) Faulty punctuation using dialogue

“Hello, she said.

“Hello.” She said.

“Hello,” She said.

Basically we’ve got a mish-mash of incorrect commas, full points, capital letters, and missing quotation marks.

It should be:

“Hello,” she said.

To take this further…

Misplaced, missing, mis-used quotation marks over more than one sentence/statement

Eg 1

“Hello,” she said.

“It’s been a long time.

I thought we’d never see each other again.”

She looked down at her hands.

and

Eg 2

“Hello,” she said.

“It’s been a long time.”

“I thought we’d never see each other again.”

She looked down at her hands.

and

Eg 3

“Hello,” she said.

“It’s been a long time.

“I thought we’d never see each other again.

She looked down at her hands.

And endless variations on that theme.

There is only one person speaking here.

The speech starts with quotation marks (single or double depending on style guides, age, idiosyncrasy etc).

When it is interrupted, it ends with a comma and Q marks, plus she said.

It then continues with more open Q marks. Each new line/paragraph has a new set of Q marks. There are no closing Q marks until her speech is ended.

So we should have:

“Hello,” she said.

“It’s been a long time.

“I thought we’d never see each other again.”

She looked down at her hands.

3) And, the third? Spelling

However many times you run spellcheck it isn’t going to distinguish your it’s from your its, or those wonderful homonyms such as fair, fare and fayre, or bare and bear, or born and bourne, or just basic misspelling. Reading a book about self-publishing, I came across
natuarally
, along with a host of other errors, including it’s not its.

When you get those very, very basic errors amended in your manuscript you may be part way there to getting a decent-looking book.

Browsing around I found one author who has worked out how to successfully self-edit. She posted up her formula so that everyone can also learn this easy skill, because, you know, editors are far too expensive and don’t usually get it right anyway. Well, that is true in some cases. But not all.

I left a tongue in cheek reply saying her post would put the likes of me out of work, but I offered to look at her book and see if I could find any errors. I received a patronising email in return, explaining why she wasn’t going to publish my post. She did not want editing services either paid for, or pro bono (how pretentious is that, why not say for free?). She also didn’t want to expose me to a barrage of requests for free editing.

Did I reply? Yes, dear reader I did. Primarily to point out that I do not edit for free, I was offering to tell her whether her book had any errors or not. Not what they were. Big difference.

As I wrote on my Americanese post, I’m not willing to re-read a book to get paid a desultory five cents a typo. I’m certainly not editing a whole book, gratis, pro bono, for jack shit nada.

The author who emailed me, did say in her blog post about how to self-edit, that some typos and punctuation errors would always escape. QV my examples above. I rest my case, M’lady.

I’ll write about what else authors get wrong on my next writing post with some classic examples of glaring errors. This will include famous authors who are traditionally published and sell millions of books.

From what some authors get wrong, to what some authors get right. I mentioned in an earlier post that, for me, a good cover is important.

Here are some which I think work well, they look professional and they pick out strong imagery from the book and encapsulate it with the visual image on the cover.

Almost Dead in Suburbia, by Douglas Pearce, which I’ve reviewed. Handsome cat, who plays a key role in this satirical, humorous, novel.

Hendrix, the star in Almost Dead
Hendrix, the star in Almost Dead

Island in the Clouds, by Susan M Toy, which I’ll be reviewing shortly. Idyllic tropical island, with the gun by the swimming pool, sets the scene for murder and intrigue in this paradise with a dark side.

Great pic, nice font too
Great pic, nice font too

Miedo, by Kevin Cooper, which I’ve reviewed. I like this grainy old photo which indicates the time period (60s/70s) of this autobiographical novel, and the expressions on the faces of the three children are so emotive. Plus there is a dog, and like Almost Dead, an animal always attracts my attention.

Great photo of times gone by...
Great photo of times gone by…

(Links to previous reviews for Almost Dead and Miedo in book titles)

And another of Kev’s novels – totally different to Miedo – with a beautiful cover:

Magical!
Magical!

The Wizard, The Girl, and The Unicorn’s Horn

This is a fantasy novel for families by Kevin Cooper aimed at pre-teens and upwards. As with any book, it can be read by adults. Geo, is the land where the story is set.

Some time ago, I reviewed three fantasy novels which included authors Tolkien and Rowling. Blogger violetwisp was disappointed that I hadn’t criticised them for the lack of strong female characters. Well, surprisingly that isn’t how I approach a book. I don’t put my animal rights, vegetarian, feminist views before considering whether or not a book is well written.

But with Kev’s book I am happy to say it is a fantasy novel that ticks the strong female characters boxes. The heroine of the book is the girl, Elyysa, and the unicorn is also female. And although the wizard is male, the baddy of the piece, the shadow, is indeterminate, as perhaps befits a shadow. The strong troll leader, Olga, is female, and amongst the humans in the tale, Martha and Julie stand out.

As I’m looking at this from an adult perspective, what I also liked, was the co-operation between different groups, ie goblins, trolls, people, the wizard and the girl, to defeat evil. And the indomitable spirit of the trapped people in the cavern to overcome impending death. Elyssa learns how to work with other magical fantasy creatures and use their skills. Perhaps we could all learn something from this. Especially the fact that trolls don’t talk much, preferring to spend their time thinking.

Although it is a fantasy novella, not all the characters have a happy ending. Reality ends up mixed in there, but death is treated as something to accept, and to move on from.

I have no idea whether Kev thought about this when he wrote his book, but these very strong messages were what struck me when I was reading it.

It’s an interesting book, with a good mix of action, introspection and reflection, and a lot of different fantasy types to capture the imagination. The fantasy element is well-represented by the attractive cover depicting the gorgeous winged horse.

This is the first in a series about the chronicles of Geo. This book stands on its own, rather than leaving the reader on the edge inviting them to buy the next in the series (which really pisses me off). However, the sequel promises to be an equally good read as Elyysa faces an even greater malignant force, the Shyde of Darkness.

Kev is currently running a promotion for The Wizard, The Girl and The Unicorn’s Horn, so head over to his blog to read about it.

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99 comments on “The three most common errors writers make…

  1. You had me smiling and thinking… Kate the grammarian! I’m very conscious of those kind of errors, as you well know.

    Then you got me hooked with the books, especially the one with the black kitty cat… you know how I feel about kitty cats! It’s now on my hit list. ;)

    I loved what you said about Miedo… then, you completely blew me away. I honestly am lost for words. I couldn’t have even written anything that good about Wiz. Thank you… so sincerely.

    Abrazos. guisante dulcissimo mia!

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    • If authors want to know what to look out for, they should really, really make sure their MS is readable. The sheer tat I see on ebooks does no-one any good. Want to edit your own books? Fine, but start with these three classic errors before you publish a book. And, you can probably guess the next three I’ll mention.

      Do you think Hendrix (something to do with a guitar I think) is a Rico puma in disguise?

      I liked the contrast of the covers I chose. Totally different. Really love Miedo’s cover, it’s a great emotive photo.

      We all look at books differently. That was my take on Wiz. My reviews are honest, and if I can’t write anything good I don’t usually write one. Although I’m starting to be tempted to do that…

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      • I absolutely agree… but you already know that.

        I’m gonna forget you said that. (roflmao) Honestly, woman. What are you like? :D

        Well I deeply appreciate all of it. Thank you. :)

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        • I have no issue with people editing their own work. If they can do it. I’m waiting to see the perfect self-edited book though.

          Noisy flipping guitar music is not my thing. Give me a full orchestra and chorus for Beethoven and Verdi and I might be interested.

          It was an interesting read. Elyysa was great, she captured my imagination, as did Olga, Julie, Martha. Don’t know if you meant to write strong female characters but it worked out like that.

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          • It would be difficult. I tried and I’ve studied grammar at the graduate level… I can pull it off with a short story, but not a whole novel.

            lol I like Verdi.

            Thanks. Everything I do has a purpose… I most certainly intended on their characters being strong…

            I think having men run things and in charge all the time and determining the outcome is unrealistic. Women play just as big a part in real life and even bigger in many cases. It’s just a shame that they don’t always get the same kind of recognition. I’m a strong believer in giving credit where credit is due… I wanted to reflect that.

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          • It’s not just about the study of English at whatever level, it’s actually a different skillset. I think that’s what people don’t appreciate. Short story huh? Ok, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt as devil isn’t bad.

            I love Verdi. Noise, noise and more noise. Wonderful! I sung his Requiem Mass at university and have been addicted ever since.

            I liked the balance, it was good. Not contrived, just worked well :)

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          • Devil was my very first publication as well… the first thing I wrote that I actually finished… with the exception of poetry, songs, research papers, a few articles etc. But you know what I mean.

            I didn’t know you could sing.

            :)

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          • Devil is interesting. Good one to pitch into the atheist/deist market :D which all passes me by. Those of us who have never been religious have no idea what it’s all about.

            Long time no sing. I can occasionally be heard squawking along to the odd noisy vinyl though. And to save you asking, soprano. Madrigal group was tough, bigger choirs easier. I miss it, I’ll be honest.

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  2. Snort. Perfect elevated ones – we are so lucky they take the time for us.
    So errors/typos do escape proofing now. The point is they shouldn’t and it used to be very rare. Publishers used to be appalled when something slipped by. That it is “accepted” and “normal” just means people will get more lax. A concern that so many shrug off the importance.
    (It dries me crazy when hard historical facts are wrong. Easily checked, but for some reason too much trouble to do so? Or figure no one will know and it doesn’t matter. Errors of all sorts matter. But I will stop now about sloppiness and lack of attention to details…sitting down now..being quiet…Molly, though may continue to snarl about the situation a bit.)
    Book covers are of the best parts/identities of a book. the fonts, the designs – everything in that small space matters.(The dog does look odd)
    Not much of a fantasy reader, but interested enough to wander over to Kev’s blog to find out more about him and his writing.

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    • Please do not start me on the ‘acceptable’ level of errors. I deleted the paragraphs that referred to that as I thought I sounded overly precious.

      Maybe the level deserves a post of its own ‘level’?

      But it is worrying. Accuracy? Who cares? What’s that? Silly duffers. Wanting to be pedantic. No need, of no value. Punctuation, grammar, spelling, silly old school rubbish.

      Sadly, I joke not.

      But happily, my boys are snoozing, night night Molly.

      While my skill is primarily with words, I always acknowledge when graphics are needed. And books need good covers.

      Kev writes well, lived in hot land USA, well Arizona, seems hot to me, in mere med temps. I read fantasy, but my faves are classical and espionage. I like hard-hitting strong books. Kev’s Miedo book is good, I like it because it is stark yet gentle, harsh but accepting. But depends what you like.

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      • If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right and well. One of those old fashion concepts that seemed to keep just about everything working in top order – which made life easier.
        No many excuses offered and too much acceptance of work not up to standards – and standards diving lower and lower. It does look like de-evolution in progress.
        Arizona is lovely – the air is light and energize. Hard to describe, but some areas do seem to hold some mysterious energy source. The mountains are another such place for me. Unfortunately we will probably be remaining here near doctors and daughter – but resisting moving back into the city – The noise and crowds are too much. I need to see big skies and water if not mountains.
        Seems we have similar tastes in reading – which I am not doing enough of off line. Reevaluating time being spent in blog land – weather will soon be mild enough to get outside.
        Let sleeping puppies lie. Molly will sleep sound tonight.

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        • Aaaagh. That is so me. I don’t trot it out, but I do think it. I hate half-hearted sloppy jobs. Might as well not do them.
          I have every sympathy with people who can’t spell, had a poor education, have dyslexia, whatever. But when you write and publish a book, AND expect others to part with their hard earned dollars for it, I think the buyer deserves a decent product and not something that would have been red-penned to death in primary school. Well back in my day it would have been. Clearly not these days. Insert grumpy old person rant.
          I’ve read a couple of books based in Arizona and it sounded quite captivating. I’m a water person (nothing to do with my star sign even though it is a water one…) I’ve only had one inland home, after that, everything has been near the sea, and even the inland one was within five mins walk of a river.
          Blogland is ok, but easy to get sucked into. My forays back to Spain basically give me chance for blog time off, although I do draft up posts while there. Mostly I read and garden and cook. I used to walk down to the beach, but that’s still too far for now. But at least I can see the sea from our terrace :)
          Not mild enough at our end, very warm start to September, not usually high 30s, should be cooling down and seeing cloud, maybe even the odd splash. Slightly cooler in Gib. Pippa not panting at night. Kept getting up in Spain at night to make sure he had water in his dish. Poor big furry dog. Perky paw waves to Molly.

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          • Keeping water bowls takes effort with the German and Molly – both with heavy coats early this year. They crash out under the ceiling fans – the ceilings are 10 foot here which makes sense in this climate and was normal building until the 50-20’s then only for rich/old houses. Then the builders went insane with cathedral ceilings ( heating costs and difficulties) Now some builders have returned to common sense. It was 79 this morning – much better walk until sun came up.
            Just as my father could talk about not letting being born into extreme poverty, I can talk about dyselxia. Never could spell. Called lazy student. Kept me out of top level classes. Only identified while doing my thesis by a prof who was quite observant (the reversal is in a predictable pattern) and was told I could have “extra consideration”…which I declined. Completed all – without Spellcheck.
            I read differently than most people – read by the shape or outline of the word not the letters. I am a dynamite spelling editor – can always tell when a word is wrong although I may not be able to tell why it is wrong.
            Oddly I ended up editing in research on dyslexia in early readers of Spanish/English. They were trying to understand why there seem to be few dyslexic readers in Spanish countries. (Long story short – it’s the way the Spanish language is constructed and the sound-letter relationships which allows young readers to get along fine for a bit until about 3rd grade (here) when heavy content starts and kids spend more time reading to learn rather than learning to read. Spanish kids just get identified later – or learn coping mechanisms that mask the problem which is very common – dyslexics tend to be smart and good at figuring things out and how to make things work. The PI of the research was PhD who was herself dyslexic.)
            Oh, this is getting long, but the whole point is, stop giving people excuses and reasons why they don’t have to try and succeed. Lowering standards is totally the wrong direction. Telling each kid they are equally wonderful is counterproductive. Better people be realistic that we are not all equally “gifted”. But each has abilities or strengths. Part of schools and education should be telling kids “Do this not that” with what you have. Do your best in that area. And understand there will always be those that do better than you and some that do worse. Get over it and move on with what you’ve got. No excuses.
            Oh, obviously I need to go to the mountains and totally unplug. Husband is a water person – if you’re on a sailboat and squint at the clouds on the horizon, they look like mountains. Close enough.
            Molly missing her buddy…think I just heard a chomp of window sill as she mopes.Paw waves to the boys

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          • Pippa is moulting like there is no tomorrow. But luckily much cooler here in Gibflat, will wait for Spain to cool down. Little One has so little fur it’s not an issue for him.

            Similar height in Gibflat. Lower in Spain as previous owners lowered roof style ceilings. Too much disruption to change back. Although would look nice, cooler in summer, but cold in winter.

            I can see the difference between Spanish – very phonetic – and English re dyslexia. Not everyone has the support, determination, education, whatever to surmount the obstacles however. Good that you did. But, I also think standards are poor. What is wrong with telling people to get it right? What is wrong with spelling tests every week and little spelling books? Easy for me to say cos I did well, but still, I don’t understand, why not spell correctly? Why not get grammar correct? Why accept crap basically?

            I just like space. Mountains, sea, space.

            Mollleeeee! I’ll help you bite that windowsill!

            Oh well, that’s Snowy for you…

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          • Definitely agree there needs to be “Spelling Rule of the Week” and weekly tests because those benefit most people (the old method of “write each word 10 times” did make a difference)
            I was lucky when first starting to read to be in an experimental group using a “new” method using sight words (seeing the whole word) instead of individual letter sounds. If it had been phonics, I’d probably been labeled retarded. Mother always blamed the early teaching method the reason why I couldn’t spell, but no. I was called lazy/underachiever/stupid. There wasn’t much understanding at that time of how kids read. One reason I’m a big believer in one size teaching doesn’t fit all and a teacher must be skilled enough to see what is going on and use the best method for the child.
            Something I’ve seen as an adult is parents getting their child designated as “learning disabled” in order to raise their grade averages ( these kids get special “accommodations” and expectations are different.) Some of the parents know their child isn’t trying, but want them in cheerleading or band or football or something – like college acceptance based on lower standards. I observed many of these kids in language arts/science/typing classes…many just file nails, draw, and if asked why they say “My mom will come and make the teacher pass me.” One mother actually said “My daughter is pretty, she doesn’t need worry about school and learning stuff.”(And this was a “nice” neighborhood with big houses)
            Pretty easy to see why some kids end up uneducated – and angry in later years.
            And worse – these kids who don’t really need the help, but just need to be motivated are stealing time and resources away from kids who really do need small group instruction and special resources.
            Like you say, crap shouldn’t be accepted from anyone.
            I do hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow – hope to let Molly go play in the field….she’s about recharged. Paw waves and play bitie faces to the Snowy..and a polite nose nudge to Pippa

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          • I’m a believer in old-fashioned teaching, but that’s really because it worked for me. We had little vocab books to take down words and practise for our regular spelling tests. Although, the test didn’t involve all the words, we just had to learn them all. Sneaky huh? And then of course later we had them in French and Latin. I did write words out loads of times. Still do for declining all tenses of Spanish verbs, easy to forget when your main form of communication is verbal.
            Yeah, the whole point of going to school is to become a cheerleader… groan. At least playing in the band has some element of education. I hope. I was in the recorder group :D played descant and tenor, too idle to learn different fingering for treble.
            Sunny national day here today :) Red and white paw waves from us all.

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          • I loved vocabulary study day. An adventure if you think each word has a family, a history and a story to tell. We did a great deal of writing out verb tenses, spelling words, math fact problems…research shows over and over that repetition is good and writing/using muscle memory does make the information stick in the brain. But people always want to try the “new and improved”(not always) methods – so here we are.
            I played a Glockenspeil…lots of polishing and precision marching…in a wool outfit based on the red coated English riding outfits: long white skirts – tall black boots, ruffled jabot (starched and ironed) and all…in this heat…we didn’t really notice except at the first game.
            National Day sounds just perfect use of day today. (Pictures!) Enthusiastic paw waves.

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  3. You may not edit for free’ but you certainly enjoy helping people for free. Although some points I am aware of, reading your posts has made me more alert to the errors and therefore lessening them. Hopefully I say with a question mark on my forehead …

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    • Waah! Lost my comment. Too busy being dutiful cook and dishing up broccoli and pasta :D

      I try and point out the obvious, because some people don’t even see that. But G, I’ve been doing his for more than 30 years, people start writing with no experience or knowledge and expect to produce a good work? It just isn’t that simple, believe me.

      I hope some of my posts help, that’s great to know. To be honest, I have an inbuilt microchip for spotting errors.

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      • I know what you mean, I see things in guitar music that most do not. not always right not always wrong, mostly simple… myself however, I like to think I am okay and not trying to be anything special. Just enjoy the story lines..

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        • I wouldn’t see musical errors these days, although have done in the past when I was more used to reading it. I think there is a difference between writing for pleasure, whether nanowrimo or poetry or fiction or blogging, and selling books.

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  4. Some of the errors you mention are often not due to a lack of knowledge on the part of the writer, but they are the sorts of things which creep in and then remain invisible no matter how many re-reads there are. Full stops on a small TNR font are almost invisible anyway, so their lack goes unnoticed time and again. Another example I have noticed when reading over one’s own writing is that when the to/too error occurs one tends to fill in/remove the extra letter subconsciously. Same goes for those wretched resuming inverted commas in interrupted quoted speech.

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    • I’m not saying they are due to lack of knowledge, rather that people don’t realise how difficult it is to successfully check their own work.
      Not sure I’ve seen a small Times New font in the examples I’m thinking of either, they’ve often been larger, widely spaced sans fonts. I’ve got the advantage of being short-sighted though which actually helps in proofing. To, too is a good example, it often happens, plus I’ve caught myself writing two instead of too :( I blame computers although I haven’t worked out why. It never happened on tripewriters. Can’t possibly be old age?
      I read one book the other day, managed a glorious combination of having opening Q marks for speech, another pair dropped in mid sentence and closed the dialogue with a single mark rather than double!

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      • When my clients use TNR I now tend to edit in 150-200% size to be on the safe side!
        I’ve also found myself typing things which were not on my mind, ‘on George’ as it were.
        My wife and I met the proud editor of a book that had quite a moderate success last year, and had to bite our tongues when recalling the number of literals the publisher had also let through, not to mention a classic where the protagonsists were drinking wine out of mugs in the bushveld in one section, but the moonlight was glinting on the wineglasses a page or so later.
        If one is going to mess up Q marks, may as well make a good job of it!

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        • I’ve not been keen on Times for years, partly for those reasons, a font post beckons…

          I love that example of the mugs and wine glasses. It is the sort of error that you and I can only marvel at. I read them and think, how does this happen? Yet, it does.

          Quotation marks, inverted commas, whatever you wish to call them are not well done. Very few books are error free on that one.

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  5. I would have committed your example # 2 error in using quotation marks, I’m quite sure. Also a friend informs me that my hatred for sloppy spelling, which extends to wiping off the extra “n” in “dinning room hours” on a restaurant chalkboard, is a form of hand-wringing, and I need to get over it. Language is in a constant state of flux and spelling evolves too, she says. We have agreed to disagree. And thank you for these tips, I can certainly use a refresher.

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    • It’s a very common mistake, not something I learned at school interestingly, because I was convinced that every sentence needed to begin and end with quotation marks. Until I started in journalism. When it was first pointed out to me, I didn’t believe it and secretly went off to look for a few examples, only to find out my elders and betters were correct :D
      I agree that language is in a constant state of flux, and sadly so is spelling, for example, compound words often start off separate, become hyphenated, and then end up as a single word. Or look at ‘phone and ‘flu. How many people ever use the apostrophe apart from ancient pedants? In fact technically ‘flu should probably be ‘flu’!
      You’re welcome. I thought it would be interesting to highlight common errors, which is why I’ve got another three set to arrive shortly.

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  6. Intriguing books showcased and reviewed. I’m on a self-imposed book buying moratorium [too many bought recently, not enough read] at present but will look them up. I’m very tempted by Hendrix, the star in Almost Dead.
    As always, useful tips on punctuation and spelling. I find the most curious transposed word I encounter is discrete used where it should have been discreet. Both are spelled correctly, so wouldn’t be highlighted by a spellchecker, nor Microsoft Word grammar checker (when I tested it).
    I’m guilty of a litany of typos so I’m not hard on anyone else, although I do appreciate reading clean material, far less distracting.
    The self-editing methodology you mention is puzzling, belittling possibly… 5 cents per found word. And true self-editing, i.e. D.I.Y is like much unskilled home handyman efforts bound to be less professional than outsourcing to a professional.

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    • As I recall you like quirky books so Almost Dead should suit. I think there’s a preview, and when you find time to think about reading, I can look up the link to his other site with a few excerpts on.

      I would probably have gone with discrete for choice, but my dictionary marks it as archaic which would be logical.

      When I’m spending more time rolling my eyes at errors instead of reading the story, I know it’s bad.

      The self-editing is one author, the five cents per typo was another who made the offer at the end of the book, so it would have meant re-reading the book again just to note them down. Oh no.

      Editing is a bit like construction. There are unskilled cowboys purporting to be qualified in the trade in both industries. Sad, but true. Finding a good person in either isn’t easy. But yes, if you can’t do it yourself to a good standard, then it’s bite the bullet and pay time.

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  7. I was interested in what you had to say about book covers….as they do nothing for me. either positively or negatively.
    The last time I was in a bookshop in England, mooching around as one does, I was aware that I looked for subject matter and then ploughed through what was available.
    I’m off to look at books ordered recently to see what their covers are like.

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    • I choose by subject matter, but if it’s got a gaudy cover with an anorexic long-haired female teenager on, then it’s an immediate non-starter. I chose those three, which were all sent to me as review copies, because they actually encapsulated major themes of the stories well, rather than having some skimpily dressed Barbie doll on the front.
      Of course in Ye Olden Dayes, an author’s name was good enough, eg my three vol set of Somerset Maugham short stories which I picked up in Málaga many years ago, just has title and author’s name. Perhaps I’ll add that for a later post.

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  8. But why would you bother to read a book just to tell the author there were errors in it? Or have I missed something? I notice errors in published work all the time, it’s very annoying but I’ve never thought to make an issue about it. Should I?

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    • This particular author was saying that editors were expensive and unnecessary, which, on a pension, she couldn’t afford. Hence, she had devised her blueprint for self-editing. It was probably professional curiosity to see if her self-editing actually worked. In anything self-edited, edited by partner, friend, mother, cousin, grandma, someone who’s got English ‘A’ level, insert appropriate other editing qualification, eg someone who likes reading Beano and Dandy, there are always errors. Lots. If she’s not working and has all the time in the world, it may work for her. But the more you re-read something, as you well know, especially your own work, the less errors you find as your eye skips over them.

      If you read self-published authors, what they all want are reviews. There is no way I’m going to recommend a book on here or elsewhere, eg Goodreads, that is chock full of errors. Opinionated editor (ie me) says this book is good? Didn’t she see all the mistakes? Er no, I don’t think so. When you email people, they don’t want to know their books have errors… But, what it does do, is drag down the standard for other self-publishing authors. If people want to be taken seriously as authors (which some of them, quite frankly are not), they shouldn’t be putting out books that wouldn’t pass an English test in Second Form (penultimate year of my junior school).

      I write, ie email, from time to time, because I figure no-one else has told them. Printing and publishing is a harsh industry, and people need thick skins. If I read a book and it’s decentish, I don’t mind writing to say, not a bad read, but get yourself an editor, or go back to the one you have because you have too many errors. But as I say, it’s rarely well received :D

      I don’t know whether you should or not. I’ve got a vested interest in the market, so I’m biased. Perhaps it might help weed out the chaff? There are too many five star reviews of utter tosh around, and that applies to plot (what plot), style of writing, and terrible, terrible editing/proofreading.

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      • All good points. Here’s me moaning often about the standard of English taught in schools these days (even science teachers struggle to spell ‘separate’ correctly) that maybe I should be more proactive in pointing out errors – as you quite rightly say, it’s all about standards. Absolutely agree that top heavy reviews are eroding those – especially these e books – more than a few glaring errors in the ones I’ve read.
        Yep, I’m with you on this one!

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        • I don’t go looking for errors. They come looking for me (just amended all mine in my comment :D).

          But while I reluctantly accept the odd error slips through, I used to die for a week if I missed one comma, full stop or got a spelling error in a whole publication, these days it seems to be irrelevant. Who cares about spelling and grammar? I’m a writer, that’s what matters.

          And of course, you get the books where text speak enters. Usually American teenage romance. The authors feel the need to repeat a text conversation between and girl, so naturally we get pages of gr8, cu, bbl, and goodness knows what else.

          Seperate eh? We had some classics on the newspaper. Accommodation was one for some reason, think people missed out on the double cs or ms. Not sure about the others now, liaise maybe, missing out the second i. As for separate, sloppy speaking as well as sloppy writing? I think you are more likely to pronounce it correctly as an adjective, rather than the verb which may account for that eg, ‘can you separate these please’, emphasis on ‘ate’ and ‘they are separate’, no emphasis, and word ends with ‘at’ rather than ‘ate’. I’m guessing here! Totally.

          I’ll have to write about ‘acceptable’ number of errors I guess.

          Like

  9. Hmm.. so many issues to ponder on, here. Best of all, though, is that I’m inspired to start reading fantasy novels again. Haven’t done so for years. Thank you for that

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  10. I’m wondering whether the phrase “self edit” qualifies as an oxymoron. I think a case could be made for it. At any rate, anyone who really thinks it’s something that can be done has to be either a liar, a total fool or just very, very bad at self-assessment. In all sincerity I believe the latter to be the one.

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    • LOL! That’s an interesting one. I think a writer can edit and proof their own work, but, how successfully in the final cut? And where is that objective pair of other eyes to ask, what on earth does that mean?

      Put it this way, I run my work by other people.

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      • I’m catching up again this Saturday and found myself re-reading this post. Another thought occurred to me; one related to your #3 above–spelling. Often, in my own work I find, after the fact, the existence of inappropriate words. I believe that you have even pointed out one or two. These words are close to the ones I meant–at least in letter placement–and are spelled correctly so the checker does not flag them. They totally wreck the meaning from time to time though, and often with unintentionally hilarious results. My favourite, and likely the most-often done one: typing “curse” for “course.” One of the things I do is design, construct or otherwise mess around with courses. This process if often tedious and sometimes even unpleasant if there are voices at the table that are unused to compromise or are otherwise intolerant of divergent opinions. Small wonder, than, that one might make what is likely a Freudian slip and not notice it!

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        • No, what I pointed out was the death timing for the grandparents didn’t work out, it wasn’t clear enough, which is actually why people need another pair of eyes to read cold.

          Although I may have commented on words, I try not to on people’s blogs, merely flag up the obvious ones, two, too, to, know, now etc.

          I made a great error once. Did anyone comment until it was published despite it having a multi-person readership? Oh no :(

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  11. I think self editing is important. Equally important, the editorial eyes of others. So, so easy (even if you have an excellent handle on the mechanics of writing) to skip errors in your own work. Our brains assume the correction is there. And then, of course, the big picture edits… :)

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    • I totally agree that people should self-edit. As a first step. And how easy is it to miss our own errors? I know that too well. We read what we think and not what we see. Or we are bored with re-reading.

      You summed it up well. Thanks :)

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I feel as though I am suddenly back at skool. I was always terrible at spelling and my dad used to make me sit at the kitchen table and go over and over the same words until I got them write ready for the next day spelling test!

    Good post, good content, good comments!

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    • My mum helped me with the spelling practice before the following day’s test! But the difference between school and badly written/edited books, is that people expect readers to pay for the privilege of reading books full of errors, and in some cases I really do mean full. More than half the pages with an error, and probably of those half (ie a quarter of the book) will have more than one error.

      It’s extremely basic. But when people are getting it wrong, it’s time to remind people of basics. And don’t come out with that Tory slogan either!

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      • Your post has got me thinking. I wonder who proof read or edited Chaucer or Shakespeare?

        My favourite story about proof reading is about Thomas Carlisle. He lent the manuscript of his book about the French Revolution to his friend John Stuart Mill for comment. Mill’s maid found it and mistaking it for waste paper burnt it. Carlyle had to rewrite it from scratch.

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  13. As a self-published author I cringe when I hear of others who don’t hire an editor. I know many will shout, “Too expensive!” I say back, if you want to be a professional author you have to act like one. I really do understand the problem. Editing is an expense. Probably the largest expense, but to me it’s worth it. I’m curious if there are errors in that one woman’s book.

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    • I think you are very professional, even down to the way you respond to interviews and provide everything asked for all neatly packaged :)
      And after all, you did say you saved up to get your first novel edited, so why can’t others do that? I think part of the problem is that price is no guarantee of quality. And then, you get all the people who think it’s an easy way to make money, so just set up as an ‘editor’. That’s one reason my advice is to at least ask for some relevant quals and credentials, and experience.
      Ha! I was curious too. When Jenny above asked why would I read it, it was pure and utter nosiness to see what sort of job she’d done. Must have a look on Amazon and see if I can preview it…

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    • I did look her up. Compound words need fixing. Too much repetitive use of distinctive words in short space of time. What the hell’s a stoop? Clearly an Americanism in a book set in Ireland! And the price!!!!! Apart from that, it wasn’t a bad read on the preview. Could have been better though. I’ll never get to know how the book reads as I sure as hell won’t be paying mega bucks for it.

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  14. Great post Kate! First thing that came to mind when I started reading it, was that I struggle reading anything that doesn’t have the correct punctuations and when they can’t spell, I get irritated. I am a spelling freak. My grammar stinks where English is concerned, but I always scored better with English spelling. I actually loved it, but that doesn’t make you a writer. You need to be great at everything from punctuation and be able to tell a story that grabs the reader from the instance they start reading. My mind wanders too much and sometimes I have no idea what I want to say. I think that is why I became quiet. LOL!

    A pity about the author that couldn’t see the humour in your words and her loss as well. Shame on her!

    I just love reading your reviews! You do them so well it makes me want to go and read the books, but alas the concentration span is not so good anymore. It will take me forever and the past year I get bored easily. So no more reading for me, unless it’s here on the blogs where great writers like you and Ark know your stuff and can keep my mind busy. At least for a while. hahahahah

    As you can see, I am feeling much better and this is the first day in a long time that I felt like talking. Sinus, Bronchitis and MENopause doesn’t mix well, and just to spite it all, I survived. hahahahah!

    How are you doing? And the beasties? Give them all a big hug and kiss from me and ask them to give you hugs and kisses back. :D xxx

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    • Thanks darling :) I’m lucky in that English Language was always one of my top subjects, plus I did Latin at school which is always helpful in terms of word derivation. If it doesn’t come from Latin it comes from Greek, didn’t do that, should have done I suppose.

      I got such a stuffy mail from her. Really patronising. ‘I excuse you from the formality of making a reply…’ I don’t take kindly to being dismissed like that TYVM.

      Aw thanks. In fact a decent book review can often save you reading the book :D In this case it was a long book, even I spread it out to read it, and I normally zap straight through a book, especially my favourites (mystery and spy stories, plus macho shoot the shit out of them tales). But I read anything and everything cos I think it’s important to broaden my reading, especially when I’m working in printing/publishing. Hey! What are you doing, linking my name with that aloof cold stone self-appointed god?

      I’m so pleased you are feeling better. It’s been a long time :(

      I’m hobbling a bit better and the beasties are well thank you. Snowy is playing us up today… Jumping all over me, biting my nose, pulling my hair, treating me as his breakfast plate when he drops his biscuits on me, and demanding to go out every hour, it’s national day today, so the noises outside and the atmosphere is very different. Hugs and kisses back to you (avoiding contracting any sickness of course) from us all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No wonder you’re such a great editor and writer. The only other language I speak besides Afrikaans and English is when I start swearing when I am upset or frustrated. No one likes to read words like that. LOL!

        That is why I love your reviews. You tell just enough to make the reader want to go and read the book, unless it’s someone like me who is just satisfied with the lovely review. hahahahah.

        Bwhahahahha! Because you’re both damn good, but you’re the greatest editor I know. Feeling better? LOL!

        Thanks hon. Yes, when I feel like talking, then I am doing better. LOL!

        I am so glad to hear that and I wish I had Snowy’s energy. He is such a sweetie! Sounds like you are all going to have a lovely day indeed. Here it’s getting warmer by the day but the swimming pool’s water is still chilly and I am just waiting for it to get warmer and my silly coughing to stop, then I will go lazing in the sun again.

        Thanks for all the hugs and kisses and that is what I love about the virtual ones. No danger. hahahaha

        ♥ Big Hugs and Lots of Kisses ♥

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        • Nah, it’s fluke that I just spot other peoples’ errors. They beam out at me like a neon light. Unlike my own of course :D because you read what you *think* should be there.

          I did French at school of course, learned Spanish, which is pretty good now, and have bits of other European languages. Enough to order a beer and count in them anyway, but most people can do that.

          I try and write how the book made me feel and why rather than a plot synopsis, unless it’s very relevant. I’ve got some others drafted up, but I need to space them out as not everyone likes reviews…

          Swimming pool? Wish I could walk as far as the sea, I’m sure it would be great physio to go swimming. Oh well, maybe next year, as it’s getting chilly here now. Well, not really, but it should cool,down this month, sun drops lower blah blah. Where do the days go, let alone the years?

          Boys are crashed now, apart from my chef who is finishing our pea omelette for lunch :) 🍳❤️

          Liked by 1 person

          • hahahahah! That sounds so familiar. :D

            I love the French language. So romantic and easy on the ear. Too late for me to learn anything, except behaving myself. hahahaha

            I think everyone should have their reviews done by you. Good or bad. It’s imporant. Especially when you do it so well. :D

            Oh, I would love to live by the sea as well, but a place that’s not swarming with tourists. Just a quiet spot, with lots of animals that I can photograph and film. Now that would be the ideal life for sure. :D

            Yes, with these fibro muscles of mine, swimming is the best exercise of all and it would do wonders for that leg of yours.

            Suppose Autumn is on its way to you now and that is a great question. And every day goes by so fast. The weekend is nearly here again. :D

            Oooooh, you are so lucky to have your own inhouse chef. Enjoy! :D

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          • Reviews? Well, I like writing them, but I don’t see a lot that read well. ‘This was a good book that I couldn’t put down’ doesn’t quite do it for me. I need to have an idea about the book, but not s flipping summary, and most important, why was it good or bad, how did it make you feel? The best books leave you on the last page with a numb feeling. Maybe I’ll do a ten books that do that list… I know the first one that comes to mind…

            I would love to swim. I’ve always loved it. We’ve talked about a stand for a bike too. Really I think just more walking and weight earring will be as good, if not as pleasurable.

            Inhouse chef departed. Back to me today :D

            Liked by 1 person

          • Well, you are a great writer and that is such a blessing. I wish I could. I can only tell you what I think but when I have to start sorting it out in my mind, then it all disappears.

            The water is still a bit chilly but I love it like that and it’s good exercise for this aching muscles. I would love to have a bike as well but we live close to the mountain, so you can imagine the steep hills. Downhill is fine. hahahah.

            Sorry for the late reply. I haven’t done much lately but take photo’s, laze by the pool and cleaning house. I can’t seem to get my mind around anything. Sometimes I can just sit for hours and look at the birds enjoying the red blossoms in the neighbours tree.

            PS: Jo did this post when she visited Gib. Is this anywhere close to where you live?

            http://restlessjo.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/fun-with-the-monkeys/

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          • Thank you. I do have different styles of writing, this is my lazy style :D

            Swimming is right out for me now, although it would be perfect, I think, but my physio insisted that getting my leg weight-bearing was the priority so hobbling takes precedence.

            I am useless at cycling uphill, even a tiny slope sees me slow right down. I was coming up a local one and doing really well, and then A said something to make me laugh and I lost concentration and momentum. Bastard! He did it deliberately and I had to get off. The key is momentum as you start an ascent.

            No later than mine to yours I discovered recently! I think a lot of people are feeling that right now. Must be global lack of motivation.

            Everywhere in Gib is pretty near me. It’s a small place. The lighthouse is about half an hour/40 mins walk, and the Ape’s Den up the rock is similar. Most places are 40 mins away, ten or 15 on the bus.

            I’ve already told her off for not telling me she was coming!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Cool! Now you have ‘styles’ as well! hahhahah! You lucky fish! :D

            I wish you lived next door. Then I wouldn’t worry so much about you and of course, you and I would live by the pool. hahahaha

            LOL! Wish I could have seen that! I won’t even try that. The minute it gets too steep, I’ll just get off and walk. hahaha

            Now you’re just trying to make me feel better. LOL! I don’t like feeling like this or being so behind in my replies or posts, but to tell you the truth, lately the only photo’s I do have are of the monkeys, birds and flowers and I haven’t been very creative as well, so instead of boring all the bloggers that visit my blog to death with my daily routine and visitors, I thought it best just to keep quiet. hahahah

            Wow! That is cool! Sounds like our little place. Good for you. I would have done the same if I had to find out she was here and didn’t tell me about it. LOL!

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  15. I personally am unable to fully edit my own work, but at least I recognize this. When I put write the magazine for the organization I work for, each article is vetted by at least three sets of eyes in the office, plus those of the Missus, if she has time. I learned long ago that my brain tends to see what it wants to see, not what’s actually on the paper, so I don’t catch the occasional missing article, incorrect verb tense or misplaced word. Fortunately for me, the folks who help me, especially my wife, edit my work “pro bono.” Good advice here all the way around from both you and other posters.

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    • I was usually the last set of eyes, often the only set of eyes for my organisations. I could never believe how well-paid managers were so useless at checking their own work. Actually they just didn’t check it at all. I let my secretary sign a letter off one day in my absence. I’d dictaphoned it. I mentioned lung cancer, and she’d written non-cancer, totally changed the meaning of the letter which was a discussion about funding for elderly services, and within that cancer services v non-cancer services. I went back to checking letters after that.

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  16. Well I, at least as commented by one of you’re commenters abut one if my post, do nit need a hole lot of editing wit my writing.

    Of curse, that was some times agao, so I din’t know if that still holds.

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        • I’ll let it go this time. Just read five pages of an intro to a book and nearly tore my hair out. Ot tore out my hair. Makes no difference. Anyway, as it can’t find any grey ones for now, I didn’t.

          And, what was the problem in said book? Dialogue. It’s not exactly difficult, just get it right, and if you can’t, pay someone who can. I’ve obv read too much bad dialogue recently. It’s getting up my nose.

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        • “It’s not difficult,” she said.

          “It may come easy to you, but you’re used to it.” The man spoke slowly, so as to not trip on any words, his stuttering kept at bay by enunciating every syllable. “For me, this is torture.”

          “You should not have made the bet,” she smiled as she spoke, but the smile did not reach her eyes; there was no pity to be found in those eyes. “Your team lost; you walk around in high heels for 8 hours. In public.”

          She turned, walked to the desk to pick up the camera, and headed for the door.

          “Come on, we have a number of landmarks to visit.”

          She stopped, tilted her head at him, and what he interpreted as a sadistic grin curled the corner of her lips.

          “Do you want a clutch to match the shoes?”

          Like

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