Blog Talk: Should bloggers act as proofreaders?

One of my pet hates is books with loads of typos, such as spelling and punctuation errors, or other editing issues. (I’m aware this means people will now be scouring this blog post for errors – but I’m not an author trying to sell you their book!) I make a point of stating in my review policy that books which haven’t been proofread properly (or at all) will get a poor review, if indeed I actually finish them.

From time to time, I still come across books with lots of typos and it got me wondering –  what is the best response in those circumstances?

  • Provide a few examples of the typo’s you’ve noticed to the author and suggest they have the book professionally proofread and/or copy-edited (or ask for their money back if they reckon it already has!). 
  • Give the author a list of all the errors you’ve noticed. However, this means you’re doing a proofreader out of a job and, unless you’re a professional proofreader yourself, you’ll probably have missed some anyway.
  • Don’t inform the author but reflect the issues in your rating of the book and mention it in your review.
  • Ignore (or in my case, try to) the errors and concentrate on the plot, characters and other aspects of the book.
  • Chuck the book away unfinished and move on. However, this means leaving unsuspecting future readers to experience the same issues.

I’ve probably done all of the above at one time or another but what’s your view?

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22 thoughts on “Blog Talk: Should bloggers act as proofreaders?

  1. I’ve only spotted two major typos recently and I tweeted to the publishers. One of them got back to me and said they’ll fix it in the next printing (the heroine’s name was mispelled, yikes!!) and the other never replied. Oh well!

    I think that typos are important for both the author (especially a self-published author) and the reader to know about. Putting it in the review is always a good shout, also privately reaching out.

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    1. Yes, I have to say I’ve most often come across them in self-published authors or books from very small publishers. One or two I’ll forgive but not half a dozen in the first chapter! I think authors ignore the value of proof readers and copy editors at their peril!

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  2. I am fed up with the whole bad grammar/spelling mistake thing. I used to write everything down then report it and one day I had an epiphany and realised that I am not getting paid to proofread but I have been known to let the blog tour organiser know if there are issues, if it is a blog tour book.

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    1. Yes, I agree. I just pulled out of a blog tour because the book was full of errors and I wasn’t prepared to do a promo post let alone a review. The author blamed their publisher’s editing team by the way but don’t they ever read the finished copies themselves?

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      1. That is exactly what an author did on one of my blog tours! She wanted my notes and I didn’t hand them over. She was self published and said it should have been picked up during blah blah blah. Also, she was writing about Irish people, I think there were a couple of characters from here, and obviously hadn’t done any research on regional dialect and slang which I found offensive. I think everyone just looks to Jim McDonald in Corry as a template for the whole island. Ugh!

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  3. I’m an author and not a regular reviewer, though I used to do them occasionally and still do if I come across something I feel I can review. I’m also a freelance editor now, so I find it extremely difficult to not edit everything as I read. (I just finished “editing” A Game of Thrones haha.) Having said that, I tend to be very forgiving of a few typos here and there because I do proofread professionally and I am human. It’s virtually impossible to catch everything. But we all have our thresholds regarding how much is too much.
    I had a huge discussion on my blog about the responsibility of a reviewer after I was given a free copy for an honest review. The manuscript was so bad I had to stop. I emailed the author and told him what I thought and gave him a few examples of what he really needed to work on. In that case in particular, there were words split up at the ends of lines where they weren’t supposed to be (i.e. tog-ether, apa-rt etc.) and he had miscreant body parts wandering around (i.e. her eyes shot across the room and landed on the gun). No, it wasn’t meant to be comedy. It was just a bad novel on many levels.
    The author wrote back and thanked me for not trashing the book in a review, but I have no idea if he ever changed it. And that’s where I could have made a difference to someone’s wallet, because if he left it as is, chances are someone regretted buying it.
    There’s really no easy answer. I think the best we can do is either talk to the author, or mention the typos in the review in passing whilst expounding on the good qualities of a book if we deem it readable despite the errors. That way the buyer can decide if it’s worth it. And if the author chooses to fix the problems, s/he can release a second edition and make that fact obvious.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. My post was triggered by a recent experience with a book I was sent to review for a blog tour. It had loads of errors in the first few chapters so I did go back to the author (also withdrew from the tour). He blamed it on his publisher’s editing team but I did wonder – did he not read the finished version himself?

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  4. Ooh Cathy, it’s such a tricky one. I usually mention it in my review or to the publisher. What makes it more difficult is when a friend asks you to read their book and the copy is jam full of errors, grammatical wrongness and things that just don’t make sense! Still haven’t told her… 😣

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    1. Oh dear, that is tricky. I feel bad enough when it’s someone I don’t know. I had an experience recently where I was sent a review request, I viewed it on Amazon using Look Inside and saw loads of errors in the first chapter. So I turned down the review request and pointed out some of the errors to the author. When they looked at the book again they realised it was full of them (they claimed it had been proofread – not sure by who but clearly not competent) so withdrew it from sale!

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  5. I found some in a book by Sebastian Fawkes, no less. And was about to call you out on “typo’s” but then realised I may have spelt his surname (not going to chance it again) wrong so I guess we’re quits. But nit wuuts (which is how “not quit’s” came out after the tiny phone keyboard and predictive text got together to conspire against me).

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  6. Just from the side of an author whose publisher let her down massively on one particular release; I’d had the copy edits and sent them all back, and the publisher hit ‘accept all’ on track changes. They did no further checking, not even a brief spell-check, and therefore didn’t pick up the number of words run together. I spotted them just ahead of publication, and sent off several panicky e-mails, all of which were ignored, and the book went out with the typos. I can’t even begin to express my frustration and upset! The thing is, although it’s fair to other readers to point out poor editing, and a badly-written story, trashing the book in a review because of typos is often not fair on the author. It should be made very clear when it’s formatting errors, or things that should have been picked up on a final proof read… when that happens. (which it clearly didn’t with this publisher.)
    That said, THANK YOU to all you lovely bloggers who, not only take the time to read and review, but also to check on the best, fairest way to do so!

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    1. Thanks, it’s good to hear an author’s point of view. The responses to my post have definitely convinced me that authors appreciate being told about errors and there are all sorts of reasons they can arise.

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