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I'm always looking for ideas for this blog (as well as a good book to read), so I spend a chunk of my day keeping tabs on the publishing industry. Often when I stumble across an article about a new author, especially a new indie author, I head to Amazon to check out the book and the author's page. Who knows? I may buy the book or even contact the author about a possible interview.

 

If I see grammatical errors in an author page, however, I quickly move on.

 

For example, I recently visited the Amazon page of an author whose bio included the following mistakes (specifics changed to protect the author's identity):

 

What she wrote: Lisa Sue is the Author of five mysteries.

 

What she should have written: Lisa Sue is the author of five mysteries.

 

What she wrote: Her favorite topic's are X, Y and Z.

 

What she should have written: Her favorite topics are X, Y and Z.

 

What she wrote: Lisa Sue is a woman that has always worked hard for what she wants.

 

What she should have written: Lisa Sue is a woman who has always worked hard for what she wants.

 

I've said it countless times in this blog, but you only have quick moment to grab a (potential) reader's attention. If the impression you give is that you don't understand the basic rules of grammar, the potential reader is probably not going to buy your book, no matter how good it is. Perhaps the above author was in a hurry when she wrote her bio and didn't notice the mistakes, but to an educated reader the errors are distracting and unprofessional.

 

Think of your author bio the way you would your book's cover. People shouldn't judge your book based on it, but many will.

 

-Maria

 

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

 

Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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5,989 Views Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, grammar, author_bio, grammatical_errors


Oct 12, 2015 12:22 PM Rooney    says:

Oops!  Great article, but there's a typo!  "...as well as a good books to read..."

Oct 12, 2015 1:53 PM Polski    says:

What you are saying is that I shouldn't bother reading your article because there was an error in your first sentence. That should have told me that there could be nothing interesting or useful in what you have to say. As hard and long as authors work on putting a story together being dismissed out of hand for a spelling or grammatical error that gets by the proofing is what discourages people that just might have something important or interesting to say. I call it Grammatical Snobbery

Oct 12, 2015 4:17 PM Sunflower    says in response to Polski:

Yes, there was an error in the first sentence.

 

However, I wholly disagree with you re "grammatical snobbery." I don't know any author who hasn't found mistakes after tirelessly going through his/her ms. and/or having other qualified people do so as well. But we should all strive for perfection. The mistake in the first sentence of this blog looks like a mistake. Other kinds of errors show a lack on knowledge.

 

If I see an author's bio with anything similar to the THREE errors Maria pointed out, I wouldn't look any further. I woiuld assume the manuscript is a mess.

 

I am far from perfect, but I do have my editor look at EVERYTHING associated with my books,, not just the book itself.

Oct 12, 2015 4:20 PM Sunflower    says in response to Sunflower:

And YES, I know there is a mistake in my response, but CreateSpace would not allow me to fix it. Kept giving me "SESSION ERROR" message.

Oct 12, 2015 4:35 PM loco    says in response to Sunflower:

Ms. Sunflower, I have spoken to many a professor, authors, and readers who have stated, "It matters not how hard you try to avoid mistakes, some whether minute or obvious mistakes will sometimes get past many reviews before publishing. Most likely there is a mistake on this comment.

Oct 12, 2015 4:46 PM Sunflower    says in response to loco:

Yes, mistakes get past the best of proofreaders. And this doesn't just apply to self-publishing. There are errors in mainstream works, too.

 

I'm only saying that some errors appear as errors; others (especially done in repetition) show a lack of editing and/or knowledge on the part of the author. Three errors in a bio, IMO, is bad.

Oct 12, 2015 5:30 PM Polski    says:

Yes, we all strive for perfection. However, not all of us are perfect or even moderately adept at spelling and grammer. If an author has a good story to tell me, I want to hear (read) the story. If the errors are so egregious or the spelling so bad that the story is unreadable, I agree that is a problem that needs to be addressed. But, dismissing a book out of hand because of errors that do not affect the story seems to me to be overly judgemental.

Oct 12, 2015 5:45 PM Sunflower    says in response to Polski:

If you're not moderately adept at spelling or GRAMMAR, get an editor. If you are adept, get an editor. EVERYONE should have an editor.

 

It's attitudes like this ("but if the author has a good story to tell") that taint all self-published authors.

 

Lowering the bar on standards is not acceptable. Sorry. Couldn't disagree with you more.

Oct 12, 2015 8:04 PM peachfront    says in response to Polski:

The writer of this article was too tactful to say so, but those three errors in particular are red flags that the book was written in a rush by a content mill work for hire writer willing to take forty bucks or so for 10,000 words and not a real author who had a story to tell.  Pay peanuts, get monkeys.  Yeah, there's some errors in the blog post.  A blog post is written in 20 minutes, and we get to read it for free.  I don't want to read a book that was written in twenty minutes.

Oct 12, 2015 9:30 PM Mr.Seeber    says:

Maria Murnane, who the heck are you?

Oct 12, 2015 9:31 PM Mr.Seeber    says in response to Sunflower:

I have a great editor - myself.

Oct 13, 2015 6:36 AM Polski    says in response to Sunflower:

I guess we will have to agree to disagree. Professional editors are simply not affordable to new authors. I was quoted $4 a page when I was ready to publish my first book. To pay $800 for a 200 page book that may or may not ever earn that much is insane. I am lucky in that I have friends that actually were English majors and teachers that edit for me. Once again, my concern is that we set the bar so high we discourage fledgling writers to even attempt to write. Lets face it. An author puts his heart and soul into a book and once he or she puts it out there everyone on earth feels free to point out everything they can possibly find wrong with the work. The harsh criticism can and does discourage people from even trying. I know of at least one person who is a great story teller but will not even attempt to put his stories in print because of the fear of the Grammar Nazis who ignore the story to focus on the minucha. 

Oct 13, 2015 10:44 AM peachfront    says in response to Polski:

The bar is already too low.  There are a  million books posted on Amazon.  Absolutely nobody is being discouraged from publishing their unedited low quality book.  Already, I have heard new Kindle owners tell me they're afraid to download a book if they don't already know the author. I've had some pretty bad experiences myself. This hurts everybody who does take pride in their work.  $800 is one of the lowest priced investments you will ever make in any new business.  If you don't have $800, you are not ready to go into business.  Period.

Oct 13, 2015 11:01 AM Sunflower    says in response to Polski:

You are right. MOST Editors are expensive. Sadly, I've read books that are horrible only to find out that the author paid thousands for horrible, substandard work. I also don't think it's fair to charge by the page. Charging by the hour makes more sense for everyone. But so many people simply say its too expensive and don't look hard enough to find someone who very well may be good and happy to offer a deal.

 

You're worried about setting the bar too high while many are upset that the bar is set too low.

 

Would you want a mediocre chef to work in a restaurant and prepare your dinner so that he/she wouldn't be discouraged from finding a culinary career?  Or would you think said chef should work as a sous chef until ready to cook meals for the general public?

 

Nobody is trying to discourage anyone. Engage in the indie community and take the time to ask around. You might find a very good editor who is quite reasonable. At very least, you might find some skilled authors who will beta read. Take the time to REALLY look around. Go to Editors & Preditors to make sure you're not hiring the wrong person.

 

I'm really tired of people looking down on top-notich indie authors because they think that we have the attitude you do. Calling people grammar nazis who do it right is just being defensive and silly. Most indie authors who I know strive for perfection. Why should we do anything less? Why would we want to feed into the prejudice that we're second rate because we've published our own books? We're writers. Are you suggesting that grammar and spelling shouldn't matter? Sorry. IT MATTERS.

 

Things like spelling minutiae as MINUCHA drive me crazy. Takes me right out of that great story you may have written. Sorry, but yes. It costs nothing to use a dictionary.

 

When I read, I'm NOT looking for errors. But when bad grammar and spelling (that could be fixed by simply looking it up) appear in a book,  yeah, that about does it for me. I can't help but notice when things are wrong. Not one or two things. But a lot of things. On every page. And if I didn't notice or didn't care, I shouldn't be a writer.

 

I can't tell you how much this attitude hurts serious authors and the community as a whole. By NO means does it mean anyone should not try, but rushing to publish substandard work doesn't help anyone.

 

Yes, I guess we have to agree to disagree.

Oct 13, 2015 11:04 AM Sunflower    says in response to peachfront:

Absolutely right!

Oct 13, 2015 1:20 PM Polski    says in response to Sunflower:

I am happy to see that you and Peachfront are comfortable in your ivory towers. My spelling is as good as spell check and I can't tell you why spell check missed one word. Of course when you had an error it was simply a typo and should be recognized as such. When I have a misspelled word it automatically removes all my work from your consideration. Perhaps my opinion is based on the volunteer work I do with the veterans history project. I interview WW2, Korea, and Vietnam vets and get their stories on CD. They get a copy and the Nation Archives gets a copy. The officers are well educated and could write their stories if they were so inclined. However, many of the draftees only speak in an uneducated mixture of profanity and common grade school level English. Their lack of education and ability to write to your standard makes their stories no less important or interesting. Could I clean them up?  sure, but that would lose the entire flavor and historical perspective of the story. It is important that I tell their story not my version of it.

The sad thing is that we actually agree on the need to have the books edited and proofed. I certainly do not want to produce bad work and I make every reasonable effort. However, as a retiree I simply don't have the money to spend $800 per book. Perhaps that means I shouldn't, in your opinion, be writing but, I have stories to tell and I'm happy to tell them to folks that have a High school education rather than a Masters or a Phd.

Oct 13, 2015 2:29 PM loco    says in response to Polski:

Gen Dobry / czesc: I totally agree with Mr. Polski....I too am a Veteran sharing the following:

We do not have to go to far. Please note the verbiage on television, newspapers etc. I may not be superb at spelling; but, when I notice an error in the newspaper or television where professionals write the scripts, it draws my attention. Keying and typing all my life, I learned one way now the computer etiquette has changed what I learned. And not having spell check on my dinosaur computer, being a fast typist, errors occur. After I have transmitted the email, I notice my typos. Carelessness or proceeding in a rush, take your pick. Also note professional speakers when thanking an audience. The normally state, "I'd like to thank each, and ever, one of you. Redundancy at its best.

All the grammer I learned in grade school has gone out the window. Words such as ain't, irregardless instead of regardless, etc. dominate the daily vernacular. Need I continue? loco

Oct 13, 2015 4:38 PM Sunflower    says in response to Polski:

I am a lifelong writer who continues to work to improve my craft. If not wanting to put out amateur work puts me in an ivory tower, then great, I'll enjoy the view.

 

Put out whatever you want. Be as defensive as you want.

 

Done with this inane conversation.

Oct 13, 2015 8:08 PM peachfront    says in response to Polski:

Wow.  Just wow.  I can't believe how arrogant it is to presume that somebody with a high school education does not deserve a professional  level of writing for their entertainment dollar.   There are many reasons why a person might have only a high school education.  But if they are a dedicated reader, they can recognize quality writing.  Those who can't recognize good writing don't buy books anyway.  Readers are a special breed. Going to college can put someone in debt for life in my country and simply isn't available to every smart person.  I respect a reader who wants to read and I want to give them the very best.  I would never try to cheat somebody by giving them a second-rate job and trying to justify it with "well, they only have a high school education so they're not smart enough to know the difference."  If they read, if they use their mind to paint pictures from words on a page, I have to respect that and do my best.

Oct 14, 2015 5:52 AM Polski    says in response to peachfront:

Was there any time I suggested that a writer do less than their best? Did I not say It was important to have the book proofed and edited and to produce the best work you could? You are reading into my comments what you want to hear rather than what I am saying.I never suggested people with a High School education did not deserve a professional level of writing. I simply said Many draftees tell their story in a mixture of profanity and grade school English. My own father had an 8th grade education when he was drafted in WW2. I am not trying to tell anyone to do poor work. I am trying to have a mature discussion regarding the importance of the story and Budding authors being dismissed out of hand because of a simple error. I get your point on those errors being distracting but disagree that they should be used to disqualify a book from consideration. Unfortunately, there seem to be some that simply can not or will not see any point of view but their own and dismiss the discussion as inane as soon as they can't win their point and have the other party roll over and surrender.

Oct 14, 2015 10:06 AM peachfront    says in response to Polski:

The author's bio on Amazon is very short.  If you have three sloppy typos in a work of that length, you shouldn't be writing or publishing entire books.  WW2 is one of the best-reported, most extensively covered wars in all of human history.  I can and will demand the very best writing on that subject. I don't need badly told war stories based on hearsay from many decades later.  There are many books and newsreels from people who were actually there.

Oct 14, 2015 10:38 AM Polski    says in response to peachfront:

I can see that there is no room for any softening of your opinion and altho I agree that three errors in a short bio are excessive I cannot agree that they shouldn't be writing and publishing entire books. I will agree that they badly need an editor and are not doing themselves a favor buy publishing without one. However, their right to do so is just that. You may demand whatever you want, fortunately nobody is required to listen or heed your demands.

Oct 14, 2015 11:21 AM peachfront    says in response to Polski:

Writers who are serious about creating a professional product should listen to what readers demand.  If you don't care enough to make it right, why should I care enough to read it? Plenty of people have done oral histories of old soldiers.  Few of us have read any of them except for the one by Studs Terkel.  The trouble is, you see, most people do want the best. Yes, you have a right to do something badly. And  I have a right not to buy and read it-- a right I'll continue to exercise whenever I see badly crafted author's bios, sales pages, and samples.

Oct 14, 2015 12:34 PM Polski    says in response to peachfront:

A right that you should exercise sir, I call it voting with your wallet. Fortunately for many authors there are readers out there that either don't know the difference or are not bothered by it. Since I write Historical fiction it is easier for me to ignore poor grammar and spelling than it is to keep from commenting on and dropping an author for inaccurate history or bad science.

May 20, 2018 11:33 PM keerthi    says:

Useful information Maria. It's iseful for every author.

 

 

-keerthi.

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May 21, 2018 1:55 AM Mr.Seeber    says:

I taint never herd of nutting like dis before. Like not atall.