Sunday, 30 March 2014

To Tell or not to Tell

The story is great, fast paced, page turning. The main characters are vividly drawn, their dilemmas absorbing. I can't put the book down and race to get to the end. Why don't I want to give it a five star review?
  Because Indie published as it is, it is full of grammatical errors (the writer knows about as much about the use of the apostrophe as the nine year olds I used to teach) misuse of words, ie. affect where it should be effect, spelling errors and the use of prepositions is creative to say the least.
  For me, however, riveting the plot, this spoils my enjoyment of the book. Once I notice one error, then  my teacher's need to pick up the red pencil comes into play. 
  This won't be true of every reader, but there is another more serious point to my criticism. If we are publishing our own work then we need to have the same standards as traditional publishers. As a writer I know that I constantly miss my own errors, but that is why I have beta-readers, who will pick them out for me. Then I print out a hard copy and go over it with a ruler and pencil word by word. 
  Even then it's not infallible, but at least the errors should now be at the level that can be found in traditionally published books. 
  If we don't do this then our books will always be seen as second rate and we will never achieve the same respect as those who go down the traditional path. 
  Should I say all this in my review? Should I point out what has spoiled the story for me? If I were prepared for sloppy editing then I might decide to ignore it and concentrate on the plot, but on the other hand it might be enough to put someone off even trying the book and so missing out on a rattling good yarn. 


  1. You should offer the praise and the criticism. Many readers before purchasing will look at the 3* reviews because they offer a balance of positives and negatives. If you believe the book to be so, then you should tell the truth. Not only will it filter the good from the bad in the future, but it will force the writer to improve, making him better at the skill altogether. Note: 3* is classed as negative to Amazon and those alike. Be wary when selecting your rating, depending on what you want to do.

  2. Sometimes I've chosen to write the author directly rather than posting a negative review. E-books can be taken down and revised. I'd like to think everyone would be happier! But, one writer responded to my tactful e-mail by saying she didn't care about punctuation anymore. As a former English teacher as well, I can't separate dreadful copy editing from story-telling. A few reviewers have sent me their review before they post it, though I didn't request this. Maybe that's a solution?