William Shakespeare once said, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
This basically sums up the entire conversation that I had with someone yesterday…
As you know, I’ve been doing Book Reviews on my blog, offering them to anyone who has a book that intrigues me. It’s a lot of fun, a great way to read more, and a chance to learn from the mistakes of others.
Yesterday, someone messaged me asking if I would review their book. Before I agreed, I checked out the book on Amazon using the “Look Inside” feature. When I read through the first page, the book was missing A LOT of commas, and the writing was a bit wordy.
Here’s how the email conversations went:
ME: Hey Person, quick Q: Does the book you’re going to send me have any commas? The version I read on Amazon in the “Look Inside” has maybe 25% of the commas it should have. Will you be sending me the same version, or a newer one? Thanks! (someone told me that this sounded a bit pompous or arrogant, so I guess I started the conversation out on the wrong foot)
THEIR RESPONSE: Hi Andy, I am not quite sure what you mean. The book was sent through having editing and proofreading therefore any run-on sentences etc. were eliminated with the rules of proper grammar. Can you give me an example? I pulled up the “look inside” version and do not understand what you mean. Thank you.
ME: Here are the examples:
Sentence the very first (“Wake up!” the faint female voice screamed frantically (comma missing) causing Allie to stir in slumber as she tried to reposition herself in the rocker.
A few paragraphs down (The monster slowly turned its gaze to meet Allie’s and let out a deep throttle of a laugh (comma missing) licking its grey lips…)
Continued (Allie jumped to her feet (comma missing) rushing to the couch where I lay…)
Next (Allie screamed out in panic; slapping me across the face (comma missing) causing my eyes to snap open wide as I gasped out in desperation for air.)
And that’s just in the first few pages.
It’s also very wordy. For example, take that last sentence. It would be better with fewer words, for example: (“Maria! Wake up!” Panicking, Allie slapped me hard. My eyes snapped open and I desperately sucked in air.”)
If I read the book right now, I would not be able to get through it because of the myriad grammar mistakes and errors. No matter how good the story was, I couldn’t give it above 3 stars because of that. Do you still want me to review it, even if I have to give it a low rating?
THEIR RESPONSE: Well first things first, no I will not continue with the review. It has nothing to do with the fact that I believe my book would or would not receive a good review from you. It is due to numerous factors. First and foremost the manner in which you approached me was very rude and pompous. You could have found a more tactful manner to address your concerns. Second, I understand you, yourself are an author therefore, I believe the so-called “myriad grammar mistakes and errors” is strictly your opinion due to your own writing style. I have two professional proofreaders and an editor that I contacted out of concern for your insulting comments and suggestions. I read them and found nothing wrong, however I wanted a professional’s opinion, which is why I contacted them. They informed me that they submitted the entire book has been submitted to two different grammar checking programs and neither one found an issue with those particular sentences.
Now, my suggestions for you are that perhaps you should enlist in the aid of a grammar checking program yourself before calling someone else out on their mistakes. If you are using one then perhaps it is time to find a new one. I would also like to say that if you want to receive more books for your review the last thing you should be doing is attacking and degrading the author by telling them how they should or should not word a sentence. You are not being asked to edit, you are being asked to review “the book and storyline”; not attack the author’s writing style. Needless to say this will not get you very far in the reviewing world. Just because a sentence is not worded the way you would write it, does not make it wrong. My writing style is very descriptive in order to pull the reader in and create a running movie in their head. I do not write in the manner that sounds like an 8th grader writing a book report.
Good luck in your endeavor as a reviewer.
So, I start out being blunt, brusque, pompous, or the adjective of your choice, but they’re the one who comes out of it with egg on their face. Not only do they show that they are SUPREMELY sensitive to any form of criticism (I think I actually gave solid advice on how to improve, not just slamming their work), but they believe in the infallibility of their own writing and team of editors.
Shakespeare would be shaking his head at the foolishness of this person. They believe they are wise and thus are unwilling to accept the criticism or comments of others. They come off looking like a total boob and an incompetent.
Writers, take heed: EVERYONE’S CRITISICM, CRITIQUE, AND FEEDBACK IS VALID!
You’re writing for a market, so if the market says, “Hey, I noticed this is a mistake”, it’s time for you to take notice. You don’t need to change your writing style just because someone doesn’t like it, but at least be willing to consider their advice–no matter what tone it is delivered in.
I’ve had my work torn to shreds, but when I didn’t get pissy or sensitive, I realized that the comments had some truth in them. I believe my writing has greatly improved because a few people were less than delicate with the way they critiqued my writing, and it’s why I go back for more every time I feel my writing is top-quality. A few criticisms, and I’m back to struggling to write my best. It helps me to avoid the complacency that comes with believing you are the “wise” man or woman you think you are!