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How many errors are too many?

Discussion in 'Tea Room (Book Chat)' started by Zelda, June 22, 2018.

  1. Zelda

    Zelda Member

    Some indie authors might not have the funds for an editor - or worse, might think that they don't need one. It's not uncommon to come across quite a few spelling or grammar errors in self-published books. Some have far more than others. At what point do errors ruin your reading experience? Are there any kinds of errors that particularly bother you? Do you think authors should always hire an editor before publishing a book?

    I think the worst errors are not so much spelling or grammar errors, but when they get character names confused. I read a book recently, The Saga of Bridget and Amanda, where they renamed a character right in the middle of a scene. Another character changed names halfway through the book for no apparent reason.
  2. Jackie

    Jackie Member

    Random name changes would definitely be irritating. It's also something that you'd think the author would pick up on themselves while they were proofreading. I don't think it's something that would stop me from reading though, unless it happened a couple of times right in the beginning. Otherwise, I'd probably be too invested to let something like that stop me. In general, if the first chapter or so has enough distracting errors, I'll probably put the book down. Of course, if the plot is engaging enough I'll try and stick with it.

    Sometimes, the beginning of the book can be more polished than the rest. I'll stop reading if I have to frequently reread sentences in order to understand what they're saying (usually as a result of punctuation errors).
  3. Reader

    Reader Vile Critic

    Given the costs of hiring editors, I can understand some authors baulking at it, far less the cost of getting a proof-reader. However at the very least there are things they can do to reduce errors; taking a printout as spelling errors jump out in a different format, reading the manuscript backwards, and having a beat reader all come to mind. Spellchecking is essential, and there is no real excuse for not using it.

    I know some reviewers who will stop after five errors of any kind but my personal rule is that if there are enough errors to show that the author did not put time into their book, I won't either.
    Gemini and Terry like this.
  4. Terry

    Terry Member

    ::rofl:: - see this is one of those spelling mistakes that throw me off when reading a book.

    For me, it depends just how bad the spelling mistakes are, if I gloss over without noticing and it doesn't affect the flow of the book, then it's no problem from me.

    But if places and people get renamed, that gets me every time and I hate it when that happens.
    Gemini likes this.
  5. Gemini

    Gemini Member

    I can understand why authors might choose to forgo a professional editor because of how much they cost. But in this day and age, there are some cheaper options available. There are tons of freelance editors and proofreaders out there who are willing to do things for less money in order to build up their resumes. Like @Reader said, there's spellcheck which should be utilized far more often.

    I'm with @Terry. So long as the errors don't disrupt my reading, I'm fine with a higher number of them.
  6. Jackie

    Jackie Member

    I've never heard the tip about reading the manuscript backwards. That's a good one! It always astonishes me that authors will put so much work into crafting their novel and then not use something as easily accessible as spellcheck. It's such a crucial step!
  7. tirial

    tirial IT fixer extraordinaire

    I agree. A spell check won't catch everything, but the things it will catch probably shouldn't make it into a published book. If there are enough errors to make it difficult to read, then I'll give up in the first few pages just because there are better books out there.
  8. Zelda

    Zelda Member

    @Jackie, it wasn't irritating so much as confusing. I couldn't keep anyone straight. It didn't help that it was a book with a large cast of characters either.

    @Reader, I totally get why indie authors would balk at the cost of editors. Even with an editor, mistakes happen. I'm okay with some mistakes. It's only when there are copious mistakes that either hinder my ability to get into the story or are simple ones that a simple run through Microsoft Word would easily pick up. Stopping at five errors seems a little much when you're reading indie authors. It has to get to the point of distraction for me, like others have said.

    @tirial, no, they won't catch everything but they could catch quite a few errors. I can understand why you'd do that. If an author hasn't gone over their first chapter with a fine-toothed comb it's unlikely they've given much attention to the rest.
  9. Jackie

    Jackie Member

    Exactly. Those tools are hardly foolproof but they usually catch a lot of simple spelling mistakes. Sure, sometimes they pick up on things that aren't errors but it's pretty easy to go through them. I just can't think of a reason someone wouldn't bother with something that's so easily accessible. It's totally worth it.
  10. Tregaron

    Tregaron Member

    My personal dislike is for the obvious and correctable errors that mean there has been no proofing, editing, or even beat-reading. If it stops me enjoying the book, why would I read it?

    I have noticed that different readers define errors differently. I have seen people who would not read stories with run on sentences, or what they consider grammar that is absolutely correct, and yet that rules out many of the classics, like Virginia Wolfe and James Joyce.
  11. Zelda

    Zelda Member

    Yeah, those are annoying. Obviously, a few mistakes here and there are fine, but when there are several in the first chapter? I have a difficult time stomaching it.

    That would rule out quite a few classics. Faulkner would definitely be out. In my opinion, those are stylistic choices, not errors. They would only stop me from reading a book if I was having a difficult time grasping what they were saying. If every other sentence is a run-on, I might not be able to fully immerse myself in the story.
  12. jessica

    jessica Active Member

    One or two on the first page:p. I give up really easily;) and refunds are only for 14 days.:cool:

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