Has the Editing Process Hit a New Low?

Critics of self-publishing often cite “quality editing”—or a lack thereof—as one of the main reasons why traditionally published books are superior products to their independent counterparts. True, many self-published books don’t pass the test when reviewed in terms of structure or basic grammar and punctuation. But I believe a significant percentage of books coming from large, conventional publishing houses are simply not up to scratch either.

No matter what way a book is published—be it self-published or traditionally published—there is simply no excuse for sloppy editing, especially basic typos and errors. Having said that, no matter how thoroughly a book is edited, it is seldom that a first-print edition doesn’t have at least a couple of medium-large errors amongst its pages (I too must raise a guilty hand. Lord of the Rams went through a rigorous review process by a number of experienced editors, but a few errors still made it into the final copy).

But when a book is so full of basic errors that it begins to prove distracting from the text, one really has to question the quality review process.

In truth, I haven’t read enough self-published books to comment on the standard of editing of same. But I read a considerable amount of traditionally published titles (in a wide range of genres) and my experiences suggest that quality control from some publishers is in need of considerable improvement—especially in books published in Ireland the UK. And let’s not forget that traditional publishing houses have finances and resources available to them that a self-published author does not—making such mistakes all the more unforgivable.

I recently read a UK-published memoir (which will remain nameless) that is by far the most poorly edited book I have ever happened upon. After noticing one deplorable error after the other, I eventually began writing down some of the mistakes I spotted.

This is just a handful of the offending items:

“Sylvesterr Stallone” Page 133

“Brian Denehy” [incorrect] then three lines later “Brian Dennehy” [correct] Page 134

“… let alone turn up turning up on the doorstep of a stranger …” Page 137

“And when I’d get therethey’d say …” Page 150

“… auditionedin front of …” Page 204

“… now standing iat the back of the hall.” Page 204

“… coming up two two months old …” Page 289

“… he met some of thestars …” Page 291

There were also an abundance of consistency issues with things like ellipses and quotation marks. Whilst these errors originally belonged to the author (and he must be apportioned a certain amount of the blame), ultimately it is up to the publisher to find and correct such errors. On this evidence, the author was severely let down by the publisher—I would expect a school child to spot some of the mistakes that are marked above. The publisher has since gone out of business, and perhaps this is the best news possible for authors and readers alike.

Purchase my comedy memoir Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide post and packaging).

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