The other day, I did something I’ve never done before. I took a book back to a bookstore for a refund. Usually, when I buy a book and end up not liking it, I toss it in the trash. But this book was an expensive hardback. Knowing how much money I’d wasted, I couldn’t relax till I got it back.
This book’s poor formatting and editing shocked me, but what shocked me even more was its high Amazon ranking and its claim to have won an award. It held loads of five-star reviews. In fact, most of its numerous reviews were five-stars. One three-star review stood out, though, because I agreed with the reviewer. The book needed some serious editing.
What was wrong with the formatting? The pages looked like someone just printed them off their computer’s printer—no justified right margins, no professional-looking fonts.
What was wrong with the writing? Here are a few issues I found:
- Some sentences ended with double punctuation marks, such as “?!”
- Other sentences were cut off, leaving only a phrase or a clause
- Characters “smirked” way too often.
- Some sections of dialogue were too long, and much of it was poorly written.
- Too many adjectives were strung together to modify one noun.
- The characters were flat.
There may even be more things wrong, but I couldn’t get past the second chapter. Some reviewers said the second half of the book got better, so perhaps I’m not being fair. I just know that when I saw all these basic editing oversights and the poor formatting, my interest quickly waned.
Two positives about the book:
- The prelude was excellent, which is why the chapters which followed were such a disappointment.
- The taglines were well-done. The author often used the simple words “said” and “asked.”
Will we ever write a perfect book, free of all grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes? No. We’re human, after all. I know I have a few mistakes in some of my published work. However, if mistakes riddle our pages they becomes a serious issue.
However, my experience should teach all of us indie authors to work hard to make our work as professional as possible lest someone like me asks for a refund on our book.