Happy Editing Month: Only You Can Prevent Bad Book Reviews!

It’s time for Lulu’s Editing Month once again – that time of year when the editors line up their metaphorical red pens and break out the prose polish.
To kick off the month, we pose a question: What’s the last thing you want to read after publishing your pride and joy? A bad review, right? We hate reading them too, but we know that, much like sunburn and forest fires, they are preventable! The remarks below are from actual Clarion ForeWord and Kirkus Indie reviews, with identifying details removed.

“… the book yearns for a good editor. It is rife with missing words, punctuation errors and other grammatical mistakes that impede the narrative flow and distract the reader.”
“It’s not merely a matter of how polished the prose is; rampant sloppiness inhibits rhythm, fluidity and pleasure that might otherwise be derived from the narrative.”
“Syntax is convoluted to such a degree that sentences often require multiple readings.”
“Ultimately, frustration wins out as the writing proves too rudimentary for even the most disciplined reader.”
“Teachers, in particular, may be bothered by the numerous grammatical and usage errors in the text. …young children may not notice, but they likely will be learning (or reinforcing) bad habits.”
“ [The] imagery is spirited and strong, … but the majority of his work is cluttered with clichés, odd phrasing, and typos. Some of the poems use overly poetic phrasing, and a few of them feel slightly inauthentic to the writer’s voice. Occasionally, the line breaks seem awkward, and it’s clear that the words have been arranged to support the rhymes. … The text is riddled with grammatical problems, such as incorrect capitalization in the title, tense issues, and gratuitous apostrophes.”

Reviews like these are disheartening, but they go to show that, even for children’s books and poetry, having a skilled editor go over the manuscript is crucial for a book that you want to be successful. A lack of editing shows that the author didn’t care enough about it to do the hard work—and if the author didn’t care, why should the reader?

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