Why I tossed that book

Photo by pablographix/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by pablographix/iStock / Getty Images

I just threw a book across the room. Again. Not literally, since the novel was a self-published e-book and I didn't want to damage my e-reader. 

Figuratively, I threw it with vigor. Why? It was difficult to read. Why? The grammar and punctuation and even spelling were bad. Why? I haven't a clue.

In my mind, if you're going to put your work out in the world and ask people to spend time and money on it, it should be as close to perfect as you can get it. It should comply with generally accepted professional standards. It should adhere to the rules. 

Here is where a nay sayer might respond with examples of those like ee cummings or the blockbuster author who recently published a book that was written with the last chapter first. But even old ee and the blockbuster author didn't publish their rule breakers until they were sure their experiments worked and were readable. 

But what if a writer is dyslexic or has arthritis or fell asleep in grammar class? That's what refresher classes and voice-activated typing are for. That's what reference books are for. And that's what proof-readers and copy editors are for. Or good critique groups. 

Professionals don't send their babies out into the world with visible stains. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors scream "I don't know what I'm doing!" or "I don't care enough to do a good job" or "I'm unprofessional!" or "I don't respect you enough to make it easy for you." 

I know that plenty of books are released by big NY publishers with typos in them. But we need to recognize that those glaring typos exist only after the manuscripts have been carefully combed to eliminate errors. By dozens of educated experts in their fields. A handful of typos in a 100,000 word thriller manuscript or novel is probably unavoidable. (Alas!) 

But when the first page of an e-book has three or more obvious and basic errors, that's where I stop reading. Why would a writer expect us to correct his or her mistakes as we read if he or she didn't bother to do it before the book was published? 

So...that's why I threw the book across the room.  Am I perfect? Of course not. But I work hard to keep my typos, grammar mistakes, repeated words, punctuation errors to a minimum. Some days it's easy. Some days it's super difficult. But the work still needs to be done.

— Mary Feliz