Editing problems in books

Une fois n’est pas coutume, I have a question for you today.

I recently reviewed a book with major editing problems. The paperback copy I received says nowhere it’s an ARC. I was told later this was not the final copy. Well, that’s a major problem in itself! How come it would be out without any ARC sign on it if it’s not the final copy? Then here is what I found:

  1. many typos
  2. many words missing
  3. some quotation marks used instead of apostrophes – this reminds me of my most funny story as a teacher. I had given the assignment to my students learning English in France, to invent an ending to a story we had studied together. When I got the papers my students had written, I suddenly started to see weird numbers, 66 and 99 showing up here and there, and could not understand why these numbers were used and what it meant. And then I found the copy of the smart one who had inserted a dialogue with quotations marks. Well he was writing with large letters and characters, and his quotation marks did actually look like 66 and 99. Of course all the stupid kids who copied from him had no real clue what quotation marks were and they had put these numbers 66 and 99…
  4. more seriously, a character dies in chapter 39, but he is alive and talks in chapter 40. I had to reread these pages several times to believe my eyes! And of course the book is NOT about the undead…
  5. The whole first part of chapter 49 has nothing to do there. I was puzzled when I read it. But then light came when I found it repeated, at its correct place, at the beginning of chapter 57.

So my question to you is:

How do you react in front of major editing problems of that sort?
Do typos bother you? Do you just ignore them? Do you throw the book to the other side of the room?

I’m curious, let me know

10 thoughts on “Editing problems in books

  1. I’ve had a couple of these books for review – although mostly e-books (and it turned out there was a formatting incompatibility problem) and mostly self-published. I told the author or PR person who sent me the book that it was really hard to follow/read the book because of the editing problems. And, in most cases, I did not read to the end.


  2. I get irritated by typos and basic grammatical errors. It spoils the flow of the reading as you have to read over it again to make sure you have the right meaning of the sentence. I have had a few but luckily not too many where there have been major issues like a blank page. I haven’t seen the repeat of a chapter or pages yet though. If I have accepted the book for review I will include in my review comments about typos and errors, particularly if the book is peppered with them. The odd one or two I can forgive. And yes, instinct is to throw the book across the room or out of the window but I haven’t resorted to this yet, lol 🙂

    My feeling is that with so much digital editing or with the advent of self publishing this is something we are going to come across far more regularly. However, I have seen typos and grammatical errors in books from the regular and well known traditional publishing houses but far less.


    • Know what you mean, I did have to reread several passages in this book to understand for instance when there should have been a negative. And when I saw that guy talk, I had to go back to double check if I had been dreaming or if indeed the author had “killed” him a few pages before.
      I have to say I have had unexpected and wonderful experiences with self-published books on that level. I actually think they are improving.


  3. I read and review independent published books and they are the books at highest risk of being in need of editing. One book in particular I read late last year was in strong need of editing and it affected the review. The content and subject was interesting, but the errors were distracting. Once a few years ago I reviewed a book and mentioned a few of the errors. The publicist was not happy I’d done this, she asked me to retract what I’d said and only review the books content. A published book will not be taken seriously if it is in need of editing, this should be common knowledge to an author or someone working as a publicist on a book. It would be as if a shoe salesman was trying to peddle a pair of shoes which were broken.


    • Totally agree! I can’t believe they didn’t even want to acknowledge their problems, and had you retract your comments, wow! As if form and content could be separated!! You know, I have had excellent experiences with many self-published books, though I do admit I’m always hesitant and afraid there will be major problems, I think these are getting better and better actually.


  4. I’m a fussy reader. For review – most certainly I would make a notation to provide to author/publisher …. I notate ARC’s for authors that I’m reading for as well – – mostly with huge character gaps like you mention – the other smaller issues I expect will be sorted.

    But – to not notate something as a Galley or Arc – that’s a problem – a big problem. If I have a finished copy with those issues – there is always a line that there are significant editorial issues that need resolution. And that also drops the review in overall outcome. But – we can only read what is provided – so that is honest and forthcoming…and if someone is displeased – that’s sad -but not my problem. It’s unprofessional to provide less than best available product at the moment – or to provide product that is ‘in the process’ without telling the reader that it isn’t polished.


  5. Yes, typos bother me and are also some of my biggest fears. I have a hard time reading books with lots of mistakes and just assuming they’ll be cleared up in the final draft. Even weird spacing on Kindle bugs me and takes away from my enjoyment of the book. Just this morning I had a reader let me know that I had spelled a French town incorrectly (Roen instead of Rouen) so I have to go fix it. I don’t want people to focus on my mistakes instead of my writing.
    Will it affect how you review the book?


    • Typos are so easy to come, I know there are too many left on my blog, though I strive to improve.
      But I’m not a professional, I’m not even writing in my native language, I have no proofreader and no editor. With a professional team, I think this is less acceptable. A few is fine. I did see Roen! It only affects my review if they multiply like mice, and there are lots of additional problems, like the ones I mentioned in this post.
      And I’m much more lenient with ebook formatting, as I know it can be tough technical issues.


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