Imagine you’ve been invited on a trip to a land with beautiful vistas and fantastic sights. You pack your bags, eager to see a new world. Maybe you even invite a friend along. You can’t wait to drive through rolling green hills, past meadows filled with flowers, along cliffside roads giving way to rivers and canyons and oceans.
Now imagine taking that trip in a car with a flat tyre. Doesn’t sound like fun, does it? You’re still able to view the scenery, but your neck is starting to get a crick from all the bouncing along, and you’re constantly distracted by just how uncomfortable the journey is.
That, my dear friends, is what it’s like to read a book that hasn’t been proofread.
Now, some of you might be able to ignore your bodily sensations to otherwise enjoy the expedition. However, if you’re like me, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors shine like glare from the sun while you’re trying to drive. The more errors there are, the more blinded you are to the story.
I have a lot of respect for indie authors. It takes buckets of creativity and hard work to transform an idea in your head into a full story, and I honestly don’t think I could do this myself. However, it pains me when an author goes so far as to write the story…and then fails to proofread it.
Authors don’t have to be experts in spelling and grammar. Their job is to generate an idea and build on it. But writing a book fully is a team effort. It is the job of an editor to help authors condense and transform their scribbles into masterpieces, and it is the job of a proofreader to clean up any mistakes at the end.
What do I think makes a good book?
- First draft 10%
- Subsequent drafts 40%
- A good content editor 25%
- A great cover 5%
- Beta readers 10%
- A proofreader 10%
As you can see, an author’s work is obviously very important, as the book wouldn’t even be conceived without them. But –please– don’t stop at 50% when writing a book. If you are going to dedicate the time and effort into writing it, you owe it to yourself and your story to invest in the rest of the way. If you don’t, why should your readers?
Get an editor and beta readers to make sure your story is compelling. (See Jamie’s post on why you need a beta reader here.) Have someone design a cover for you; don’t just use a generic stock image and some badly photoshopped text.
Finally, get a damn proofreader. If you want your readers to enjoy your story, you need to make sure it’s easy to read. Don’t let technicalities ruin the experience …or your ratings.
Pierce Brown wrote Red Rising in a few months, but it took years to get it published, even after it was accepted by a publisher. Why? Because his first draft was rubbish. His second draft was also rubbish. He said that anyone who thought two drafts were enough was lying or delusional. Yes, Pierce had a publisher with resources to throw at the book, but indie authors, you can get this help as well! As with anything you sell, you need to invest time, effort, blood, sweat, tears and money in if you want to give your book (AKA product) to have its best chance of success.
Books Are My Fandom offer proofreading and beta reading. I am a proofreader. I will find any errors. I find them already when I read excerpts, books, –hell– even author websites! I don’t expect authors to be able to proofread their work themselves, but I do believe that if an author expects me to choose their book over all the others I could read instead, they should prove to me why, and I know I’m not the only reader who thinks that. Wouldn’t you agree that it’s better to find and fix errors before publication than for your readers to find them?