The Pain of Proofreading Ebooks

As a bumbling would-be novelist, I get my literary head handed to me on a plate on an hourly basis by Grammarly and Word.  Having been one of those kids smart enough to get A’s and B’s by doing the very least possible, I remember almost nothing of my poor English teachers’ best efforts.  Oxford comma?  What?  In the proofing done by Grammarly my work is attacked over and over, and I find myself trying to decipher results of the scans.  Most often it’s the pure hatred of contractions involved, but more often it’s subject verb agreement, tense, or dislike of my word choice.  It’s a bloodbath.

When under stress I use reading to numb my brain.  With the plethora of free novels in self-publishing, I’ve been downloading and sampling what some book bloggers have been promoting.  Note these bloggers target women who like sexy love stories.  Really sexy love stories…  If you call it Mommie Porn, be prepared for a firestorm reaction.  What’s porn to one is a sexy love story to another.  As they say, all in the eyes of the beholder or reader.

I got started on this slippery path by being goaded with a stick held by my more openminded friend, whom I’ll call Fredricka.  Fredricka, or Fred for short, encouraged me to read the 50 Shades with an open mind.  How can one ignore a book phenomena that’s changed publishing?  As a woman who was once in an abusive relationship, and who had experienced childhood abuse, these books reopened a figurative brain wound of mine.  My hackles were up and running the whole time.  Once past 50 Shades, I started reading other books in the same vein, then the wannabees.  The wannabees are sometimes excruciatingly painful, and hence the nutmeat in this blog post.

There are hundreds of women and men self-publishing to surf the phenomena of 50 Shades, and many of them need remedial English and an editor who has a grasp of sentence structure and plotting.  Not like friend Sue who’s really a wonderful cheerleader/reader, but a someone who can take the dreaded editing pencil in hand and help clean things up.  Or a professional formatter who can make a book actually readable.

One of the things learned in writing at school is pain.  Not the personal pain of childhood or adulthood, but pain of being laid out bare intellectually and creatively.  To submit to a teacher or editor is to dare them to call your creativity inconsequential or lacking, and yet we must do just that.  I’ve seen some ebooks slapped together and published in embryonic form when a good proofreader and editor could have made them wonderful.  I’ve seen some fair ebooks broken down with commonly misused words like their and they’re, and the ilk.  More than once I’ve deleted a book after trying to read past formatting, plotting and paragraph disasters.

It’s a shame.  Everyone needs encouragement, everyone needs to feel the wonder of success, but every writer needs a good editor and formatter, especially me.


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