Sunday, January 31, 2016

Clamping Down on Errors in Published Books

As a self-published and traditionally published author, I spend a lot of time trying to find typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in my work. Even after hiring a professional editor, it's a painstaking ordeal. The same is true when working with my publisher’s editorial team. Four of us will go over the book, yet a typo or two can still be found in the published product.

As a book reviewer, it’s pretty rare to find a book without a single typo, but the occasional typo doesn’t bother me as a reader. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly common to find multiple typos, spelling inconsistencies, and grammatical errors in self-published books. It’s why I’m glad Amazon is implementing a new warning system on February 3 to would-be buyers. Frankly, I wish they did it long ago. Too many unhappy readers, including me, have wasted time and money on books filled with these types of errors.

Michael Kozlowski has written a short, useful blog about what authors need to know regarding the new warning system that flags books with lots of typos and/or formatting issues. Note that Amazon has been sending authors a list of misspelled words or poorly formatted books to correct for a while now, but this new warning upgrade will be public. Kozlowski also provides a link to show what it will look like, here.

As Kozlowski notes, authors inevitably have questions. For instance, what about the science fiction and fantasy authors who’ve created new words and languages? Well, the answer is that a lexicon can be implemented. You can read more about that in his blog.

How consumers and authors will respond to this remains to be seen. The point is that writers who haven’t paid enough attention to the editing and formatting of their books will have to do so now, or their sales will disappear.


Barbara said...

I would think that unhappy readers leaving bad reviews about editing problems would be sufficient to get publishers/authors to fix things. This seems to be Amazon pretending to care about the quality of books like they pretended to care about legitimate reviews. But instead of deleting paid reviews for the big publishers, they focused on independents and tried to decipher whether someone who left a glowing review was a friend or a fan. (Truthfully, I think you can be both. If you buy the book and read it, you should be able to review it. But I digress) So I wonder if they will once again tend to focus mainly on independent authors rather than well-known authors who are published by big publishers. Sadly, there are editing problems with them all. Independents often don't have available funds to pay the best editors and the big publishers seem to be skimping on editing as well. I don't think I've read a book in a long time that didn't have some typos or editing problems. Of course I don't believe there is a good excuse for putting out a book before it's ready. I just wish for a level playing field. I know that's asking a lot:)

Debra Purdy Kong said...

Great points, Barbara, and thank you for your comments! I'm not sure that Amazon's notice to authors to fix the problems is working as well as it should. For instance, I downloaded a book from BookBub by an indie author that was filled with typos, grammatical errors and inconsistencies. When I posted my review, I noticed that other reviewers, several months earlier than me, had posted similar comments. That same author has more than one title listed on BookBub, which show up fairly regularly. I think some authors just don't care. As far as Amazon goes, I think you might be right about targeting indie authors, particularly those who don't publish through KDP. I'm hearing rumblings about Amazon actively suppressing the algorithms of books not published through their program. If it's true, and they're targeting those books, then that's very troubling.