On proof-reading and editing

During the last day or so, a friend and I have engaged in an on-line discussion regarding proof-reading. This was prompted by her comments on Twitter about the alarming regularity of errors in the latest novel of a well-known fantasy series. We came to the conclusion that proof-reading is a dying art, and is clearly not compulsory in all publishing houses.

This evening, whilst reading an extract from the latest novel by an award-winning author, I was mildly shocked – but sadly not surprised – to see that neither the author, nor his agent, editor or proof-reader (assuming they employed one) knew the difference between who’s and whose. I enjoyed the extract, and I believe that the book will provide an entertaining read, but I’m now hesitant about buying it.

I may be naive, but I’ve always assumed that a professional writer has to have a good grasp of spelling and grammar. Telling a story is one thing, but crafting it into a novel surely requires at least a rudimentary knowledge of the basics, doesn’t it?*

As an unrepresented and largely self-published author, I don’t claim to be perfect. But I do read and re-read my manuscript several times before handing it to someone else to read, because I’d be mortified if they found spelling or grammatical errors that (a) should not have occurred in the first place, and (b) escaped my notice on reading through. That’s not to say that this hasn’t happened (it has) but I pray to all the gods and goddesses in the universe that the final printed version is as perfect, grammatically, as we can make it.

This infographic, by Scribendi, makes my point quite succinctly.

Disclaimer: I haven’t used Scribendi’s services; I found the infographic via a link on Twitter.
Original source:  Editing vs. Proofreading – Scribendi.com.

*That was not a rhetorical question: I’m really interested in your views on this subject.


About johannanield

Welsh author of a contemporary British romance trilogy
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