Indie authors tend to get a bad rap when it comes to ebook quality. With the ease of self-publishing today, anyone can write just about anything, upload it to Amazon, and become a published author. Fortunately, Amazon is cracking down on poor quality books and notifying authors if too many mistakes are found in their manuscripts. Unfortunately, a lot of garbage still gets uploaded, and it’s up to the reader to wade through the junk to find the gems.
As an indie author myself, I scour through my books before I upload them. After the editing is done, I proofread them. Two other people proofread them for me (and they always catch things I missed), and then I read the books one more time before I send them out into the world. Inevitably, when you’re dealing with a 70 to 100 thousand-plus-word document, typos do slip through.
But it’s not just the indie author who has to worry about typos. When I read novels from big-name authors, from big-name publishing houses, I usually come across at least one or two mistakes in the finished products. Most people probably do. But at what point do the typos become so much of a distraction that you have to put the book down? How many times are you willing to be pulled out of the story because a word was missing or misspelled, or the wrong word was used entirely?
I’m asking these questions because I recently purchased an ebook by one of my favorite NYT bestselling authors, published by a reputable publishing house. I didn’t bother to read the reviews, because I love this author, and I’ve never read a book of hers I didn’t like. That, my friends, was a mistake.
I started to worry when I counted five typos in the prologue alone. But I kept reading, and the ebook was so riddled with typos and poor grammar, I couldn’t believe it was my favorite author’s writing. The story itself was good, but after four or five chapters, I had to stop reading it. The editing was that bad. So I went to the reviews, and sure enough, tons of people complained about the editing of the book. I wanted to finish the story, so I bought the paperback version. (Yes, I was a bit irked I had to pay for the book twice, but I really wanted to finish it.) Were the same mistakes found in the paperback? Nope. It was a clean copy. (It also had a much prettier, higher quality cover, but that’s another story.)
All I can think is that maybe the publisher uploaded a draft, rather than the final copy. But this version of the book was released in 2013. Surely, after four years and tons of complaints in the reviews, the publisher would have fixed it by now. But they haven’t. And it’s not difficult to upload a new version of your book. I’ve done it, and I’m not the most technologically savvy person.
And if Amazon is flagging poorly edited books by indie authors (and pulling them from the virtual shelves if the author doesn’t fix the problems), why not hold the publishers to the same standards?
I’ve come across several review sites that refuse to consider books from self-published authors, citing that the editing is too poor in indie books. Most of the indie authors I know hire their own editors and then scour through their manuscripts before uploading them. It’s true some still don’t, but apparently, some publishers don’t either.
How many mistakes in a published novel is too many for you? When would you put the book down and move on?