Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.
You’d think that a book from the big publishing houses would be in expert condition when you purchase them, right? There should be no formatting issues and no punctuation problems. It would be near perfect. Certainly there should be no evidence of poor editing. Rumor has it that only the self-published come out to the public in horrible shape. Well that rumor is not true. Many big publishers are putting out poorly proofread books.
There Will Always Be Mistakes
Anytime I read a book, I do find some mistakes. It is inevitable. Publishers and editors can’t catch them all. And these are from the big publishers. A missed comma here and there doesn’t bother me. I do have to say that if I see that on every page, I frown. Big publishers have the means to avoid the majority of mistakes. Therefore they should not be found by the reader. I should be able to read without stopping when I see an egregious grammar and punctuation mistake. Now that being said….
More and more, I’m picking up books from the big publishing houses and finding huge editing issues. I mean HUGE! I am shocked when I check out the publisher and see a big name there. What I see I would expect from someone new to the industry or a self-published author who didn't have anyone edit their work. It's shocking.
What issues? Let me rant then.
I had seen my children play a video game that looked very interesting. There was action, mystery, and an actual plot in it. I discovered there was a book based on it. I really wanted to read it if it was as good as the game. I even paid full price for it. From paragraph one, I was reading open mouthed. Run on sentences occurred in about every paragraph. Punctuation was incorrectly done and not just once here and there. It was everywhere like someone who had never read English had written it. I couldn’t finish the book. I couldn’t get past page forty-seven. This book came from a MAJOR publisher. Reading the reviews, many people had the same problem as I did. The only ones who didn't admitted that they used it to help them learn English. That is not the book to use as it was wrong on so many counts.
I picked up another contemporary book and found good editing, but extremely poor proofreading. Commas were missing in about ninety-nine percent of places where they should have been. It drove me crazy and made it hard to continue reading. I found myself looking for the inevitable missing comma instead of reading the story. That’s a shame because it was a great story.
These are just two of many. And I have heard many other readers complain about the same thing concerning other books. What is going on?
Results of Poor Proofreading
Why should it matter if the commas are in the right place or if the sentences are extremely long? It matters a lot! The meaning of a sentence can entirely change dependent on where the comma is. Remember the purpose of punctuation - road signs! If you want the reader to understand the story, then the proofreading has to be done and done well. Perfection is rarely achieved, but it would be nice to see an attempt. If you mess up on this aspect, you can lose a reader quickly.
Another horrifying result is the continuing deliterization of our culture. While some might not see proofreading as an issue, in the long run it causes a lot of problems. Over exposure to things causes blind acceptance. That means younger generations accept these mistakes as correct. We need to nip the problem in the bud before the language deteriorates further. If we say they are no big deals, we will create a generation that is ignorant on how to communicate properly.
What's Going On?
Why is this happening? Why are big publishers putting out such low quality work? The answer could be the most terrifying thing of all.
Big publishers are pushing aside quality in order to meet deadlines and produce the books they have lined up. The money is spent on covers and marketing for those they feel will bring in the big bucks. The amount on editing and proofreading is being pushed aside.
I will admit that I do not know this from personal experience. But what other explanation can there be? I would hate to think that the big publishers are getting lazy or have no desire to produce quality books. I would like to think it is a misdirection of focus.
I am at a loss. To think that our children will be reading such poorly produced books has me terrified how the future generations will turn out.
Rebecca Graf (author) from Wisconsin on July 08, 2017:
Totally agree. I'm very disappointed in the big publishing houses.
whovian31991 on July 08, 2017:
I have started noticing this as well, especially in the newer books I pick up at the library. It's frightening to me, especially since a professional proofreader is typically required or encouraged to have a Bachelor's degree in English. I understand budget cuts, but I do not understand providing poor quality work. If you are being paid to do something, you should give it 100%.
Shawmick from India on December 18, 2016: