Military ranks are not something I know a lot about. Lieutenant Colonel is a high rank from what little I understand. It does not make one immune to making mistakes. Being that far up the chain of command I would guess that person isn’t used to being questioned, corrected, or criticized especially by lower ranking staff. Add a Masters in English on top of that and you have an author who doesn’t see anything wrong in their books.
As a book reviewer, I am often approached by self-published authors to review and help promote their works. I love doing that. I often state how Author Are My Rock Stars! Of course, I cannot read everything and narrow down my selections based on the different genres I prefer. Enter the retired Lt. Col.
He friend requested me on Facebook. I looked at his books and they fit into my preferred category and accepted. I added them to my To Be Read pile and let him know when I got to them. Or, should I say one and only one.
The first book in his series of which there are more than a half dozen had so many typos in it that I couldn’t enjoy reading it. It has been out for a year now and I would expect most of them to have been corrected by now. When I suggested that he hire an editor or at least a professional proofreader he balked. First, he couldn’t believe there were that many mistakes and thought I should overlook them as he was an indie author. Second, he said editors/proofreaders were too expensive and he wouldn’t make any money if he had to hire them.
Well, I walked away from the series right then and there. I have my own set of rules that I go by when it comes to situations like this. One, a book published by a well-known house is allowed up to three errors of any kind in total. An indie published book is allowed up to six. And, for the most part, that seems to work well for me. Two, I will let the author know where each of the mistakes is if they are within those limits. Most are gracious and very thankful. Three, I do not portend to be a professional proofreader or editor. I make plenty of mistakes myself. I am not the grammar police. I am certain that I do not catch every mistake an author makes. And, goodness knows I miss mine entirely. For you see, we read what we expect not what we see.
Anyway, after I wrote the book’s review the author made fun of it on his Facebook page without naming me. For you see not only was there numerous mistakes, both typos and contextual, it wasn’t that well written. It was evidently an adult book due to the descriptions of violence and the language used. But, it was written at a level well below what I would expect for that type of book. Let me step back a moment. It was very well written grammatically for young adults.
Time passes and I move on to other works. Then I get a private message on Facebook from the author asking me to point out the mistakes as he is unable to find any. There are seven in the first chapter. After notating those I stop and let him know that I don’t have the time to go through his entire book. I also don’t typically read a book a second time. And, I certainly don’t work for free. I was most definitely shocked that he had the gall to even ask.
End of story.
Now, contrast that with what I’ve done recently. Another author working on his second book asked me to beta read for him. That tells me the work is rough and not to expect an edited book. I very rarely beta read as it takes the joy out of the story. He’s a nice man and I enjoy interacting with him on Facebook so I agreed.
Somehow the chapters don’t follow the timeline. I let him know and he laments how an editor suggested he move them around. It is too confusing for me so I create an Excel spreadsheet to note the main events and the order in which the chapters should occur. He didn’t ask me to do this and was extremely grateful for my help.
He is in the process of reworking the book to maintain the continuity of the timeline.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I’m not a badass reviewer that comes down on writers who make mistakes. I only want authors to succeed and will help if I can. I will not tolerate those that treat me as inferior.