… but one of my biggest peeves with epublishing – and, no, I don’t think it’s restricted to this industry, but bloody hell it seems more prevalent! – is crappy editing when it comes to name swapping, head swapping, or whatever the hell the technical term is for it.
Yanno, it’s when all of a sudden a character is talking to himself, kissing himself or better yet domming himself. Yeah, work that one out.
Pisses me off and throws me out of my reading mood is what it does.
Writers, is it really that hard to pick up? Because I have to say that from my readerly end it seems like such a simple thing.
What would I know though. 🙂
Well, I accidentally clicked on self-anal once. Ack. Ummm, you can also dom yourself. Pull out the Crisco. Double ack!
But yeah, I've ran into that in one series in particular (alphabet anyone?) or where they call a character by the wrong name. I know it can happen if you're writing, you get their names mixed up but I would think it goes through several editors and ONE would pick it up. I read pretty quickly so I often gloss over words that may be spelled incorrectly but when its a case of the wrong word completely or a word or words is missing and the sentence makes no sense it makes me crazy. That just shouldn't happen if an editor is hired to check that stuff.
Yes Tam, “accidentally”. Sure. ;P
I agree – I see how an author could write the wrong name and then miss to see it, or how some errors may slip unnoticed by the writer here and there, but isn't this one of the reasons publishers pay and employ editors? It just seems so sloppy from a reader point of you when it happens, especially if it's reiterated.
If any of you hasn't read it yet and is interested in an editor's point of view, here's a link: http://cerebralreviews.com/2009/07/26/divas-divos-and-the-professional/
Yeah, I've noticed that a few times too. It does tend to throw you right out of the story. I'm not sure how those kinds of obvious mistakes make it past the editor.
Even little things are annoying me lately, though. Just read Love and Loyalty which was good, but I was bugged by the fact that Jim went to meet Griffin at his gate at the airport since they don't let you do that anymore. That threw me out of the story too.
Interesting! Kris, do you mean all that awful viewpoint-switching that we get a lot in m/m fiction (the head-hopping when every minor character gets a viewpoint and we jump from viewpoint to viewpoint in every other paragraph)? Or do you mean the really big bloopers where the character names get mixed up and it reads like someone ends up performing oral sex on himself? Most unfortunate!
And Nichem, I hear you on that factual stuff. It's important to get it right. I read a contemporary awhile back in which someone looks for 25 cents to make a call from a payphone. I'm thinking, no way! We don't even HAVE payphones anymore and those few that remain require a lot more than 25 cents!
It *is* that hard for an author to pick up in her own book. I am a damn picky editor and I can comb out errors that three editors before me have missed, but I can't edit my own writing to save my life. It really is true that we're blind to our own mistakes.
So in these cases, you really can't blame the author. While the author SHOULD be meticulous and careful about these things and should catch most errors before the ms goes to an editor, most publishing houses do send the books through a minimum of two edits to make doubly certain the book is pretty and perfect for publishing because they already know authors aren't good at self-editing (even if they say they are).
Unfortunately, many smaller publishing houses don't have the resources to screen, hire, and PAY good, qualified copy editors.
And that is all I have to say on the subject. 😉
As someone who is in the midst of edits at the moment, it is pretty frakking easy to miss errors. By the time you are editing, you have been through the manuscript so many times in writing, re-writing and self-editing that at times you can 'read' what you meant rather than what you are actually seeing, as if your brain is logically filling in the gaps for you.
What JenB and Sean said is sure enough the truth. After you've been plugging away at a ms. for weeks and weeks (or months and months), and you've reread it so damned many times you want to throw it out the window — but can't, 'cause that would mean having to buy a new computer — you simply stop absorbing what you've written. Overexposure, oversaturation, whatever. You just become blind.
When I was still turning out paper manuscripts (yes, I'm that old), it was so much easier to check for certain things, like continuity issues. Errors and inconsistencies had a way of jumping off the pages. But sitting in front of a monitor day in and day out, scrolling up and down and up and down, is extremely taxing … on one's patience, eyes, and wrists.
This is why we count on editors to watch our backs. Sad to say, too many in epublishing aren't up to the task. I've felt mightily let down by certain editors. There's nothing more frustrating to me than noticing “imperfections” when a book is prepped for release or has already been released … and knowing I can't do a damned thing to correct them.
Still, I think fundamentally sound writing will make itself evident regardless of authorial burnout or editorial incompetence. Everybody fucks up once in a while. To me, it's the overall quality of the product that counts.
Tam – I'm with you on the missing words. Mainly because the sentence doesn't make sense…and then I have to sit there and edit it to make sense 🙂
And I'm with KZ and Sean on looking at something until your mind 'sees' what it thinks is there and not what is there. In other words, you can't see the wood for the trees 'cause you've been wandering too long 🙂
I'm in two minds about this issue.
1. I understand that authors can miss errors in their own work. I'm only a lowly blogger and I've lost track of the number of times I put up a post (having read through the damned thing about 10 times beforehand) and discover a typo hours after it's been posted. How much worse is it for authors who have 30-60,000 words or more to check and re-check? Good, accurate editing is the only way that some mistakes will be found. I did some spot checking for an epub for a while and was amazed at how many typing/general mistake errors I was picking up on something that had been through three edits.
2. As a reader I find errors annoying, even if I can understand them. I very rarely comment on them in reviews unless the book has been riddled with them – I read a book not that long ago that must have had 10 errors which is far less understandable than one minor mistake. I also may mention when something has jumped out at me and seriously jarred my reading (as I did on my Saturday Shorts this week with a book). Other than that I'm prepared to let the odd mistake slide, especially if it's just a misspelled or missing word.
Tam: I'm siding with Sara on this one. Accidental my arse. LOL.
My beef is with incorrect character names and words. I agree with you that that's something I would expect an editor to pick up.
Sara: I think you've hit the nail on the head re: sloppiness. Regardless of who may or may not be to blame for mistakes slipping by, it gives the reader a really bad impression of the author and their work.
Thanks for the link to cerebral reviews. I'll have to go check out what they have to say.
Richelle: Factual mistakes are always something that makes me pull up short as well.
It's funny how it can sometimes be just the little things that a picky reader grabs on to, isn't it. 😉
Val: Although head hopping is an issue with m/m fiction which can bug the hell out of me, in this particular instance I was meaning the whopping great big blunder of mixing up the character's names.
In the book I recently finished it didn't happen just once, but at least four times, including in the last couple of paras of the book. Not good. 😦
JenB: “It really is true that we're blind to our own mistakes.”
Despite my dig at authors in the post, I absolutely agree with you, Jen, about the difficulty in picking up mistakes in your own work. I have problems doing it in my RL job so understand perfectly.
Having witnessed the demise of Quarter Press before it was able to get off the ground, the financial constraints of small presses are understandable. From my perspective, though, I would have thought that ensuring a quality product by commiting resources (in this case decent money for a GOOD editor) would be one of the main aims of a small publisher. After all, shitty products = shitty reputation = shitty sales.
What really surprised me about the book I just read, which had the multiple mistakes with the character names, was that it was from Loose Id. It's really taken me back a bit.
I know, I know. Editors are only human too, but still… 🙂
Sean: I understand what you mean – When you're so familiar with a piece of writing that you are 'reading' what you meant to say as opposed to the actual words on the page. Been there and done that myself.
Out of interest, how many editors/edits would a 'normal' ms go through from the time of its submission up to its publication?
Oh, and do you get an opportunity to correct any errors that might be picked up later? I'm curious about this point because, without knowing the nitty gritty of it all, I would have assumed that an ebook was something that could quite easily get edited subsequent to release as opposed to a print book.
K Z: See my above questions to Sean. What's your perspective??
If I was an author, I would be one of those who'd be single=handedly responsible for destroying continents of forest because I would be printing out and proof reading that way as opposed to reading the work on the screen. Too easy to miss things – for me anyway.
(Again) If I was an author, I think I would be extremely frustrated finding mistakes after a piece had been through the editorial process a few times. Actually pretty pissed off and yelly is what I'd be.
I agree with you re: the overall quality of the work… to a certain extent. It's pretty easy for me to blow off some mistakes, but when it's the same one (for eg the incorrect character name being used) made again and again and then again right at the end of the story?? Regardless of the overall quality of the work, it's hard to forgive a mistake of that nature, especially when it throws you out of the story an ant's testicle away from the HFN.
Orannia: “In other words, you can't see the wood for the trees 'cause you've been wandering too long :)” Exactly. LOL.
Jen: Like you, I'm prepared to let the odd mistake slide because I do undertand how difficult it can be, even when I'm taking the piss (translation – making fun of something). However, when the same mistakes repeated over and over again to the extent that they are jarring and detract from the story? Nu-uh.
Well I think editing in m/m is crappy everywhere. If the book is clean – it's most likely due to the author from what I've seen. I've seen HORRENDOUS editing from so called great publishing houses and I've seen pristine books from smaller houses (side by side with someone self fucking).
What gets me more than the name confusion is the pronoun confusion. I really hate trying to figure out the he's and why this he is suddenly that he and why the POV seems to switch – when it doesnt, it's HE confusion.
Ugh. I realize same sex is harder but pronoun confusion during sex drives me batty.
Kris – The name thing is annoying, but to be honest, sometimes it's hard to tell which name should be where. And they really do start to look the same after a while. The best thing to do is leave a comment for the author questioning the name switch, but a lot of editors make the incorrect assumption that the authors know exactly what they're doing and that the mix-up was intentional. Again, lots of underqualified editors out there in e-publishing.
Kassa – The pronoun thing drives me nuts too, and I try to address it when I edit. And this goes along with what I've been saying about editors being underqualified and underpaid, but a lot of them know the pronoun thing is wrong but they just don't have a better solution. Which is…yeah…big fail.
So blame the editors AND the higher-ups at the pubs.
BTW, you should read the Hot Comforts antho coming out from MLR. The editing in that one is FABULOUS. 😉
Kris, the thoroughness of the editorial process differs from publisher to publisher (hell, from editor to editor). I'm not going to name names, of course, but some editors are meticulous to the point of being nitpicky and others, to be perfectly frank, don't even do enough, or probably know enough, to earn their pay.
The best ones fall in between those two extremes. I've had editors from the whole range of the spectrum. Same is true of proofers.
It isn't as easy as you might think to keep making corrections to a ms. right up to the hour of release. It's a pain in the butt to everybody involved. And once a book's been formatted, forget it.
I feel guilty enough when I object to a cover and the artist has to come up with another version or two.
Kassa: Yes, the HE confusion is something that gets me too. I sometimes wonder if that is one of the causes for the character name confusion; for eg, too many 'he's' so stick a name in there, but 'uh oh' it's the wrong name.
JenB: “Again, lots of underqualified editors out there in e-publishing.”
Whenever I've done any editing in my own field I try to set aside who the author is and go from the assumption that they're wrong and get ready to defend my editing. That can be fun. 🙂
“BTW, you should read the Hot Comforts antho coming out from MLR. The editing in that one is FABULOUS. ;)”
*snort* I wonder why. 😉
Oh, Jen, can you tell me what the hell a beta reader is?? I've never understood what their purpose is.
Errr, sorry for all the questions. You're an easy mark. LOL.
KZ: Blech. Sounds like a pain. Tell me, do you have the opportunity to choose your editor or do you get 'allocated' one?? If you know that you're stuck with a crappy editor is there anything that you can do in terms of a fall back position; for eg, send it to either of the Jens and beg and plead for them to have a look at it for you??
A beta is just a guinea pig. Author wants to give the story to an impartial reader for first impressions. Kinda like a taste test.
Oh, ok. Thanks Jen. 🙂