Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Reader’s Perspective on Self-Published & Professionally Published E-Books

I’ve been reading a lot of e-books lately, both self-published and professionally published, and a number of these were novellas. While the stories were all engrossing and well-constructed, there were some issues in editing.

Now, I’m a stickler for correct usage and spelling, so when I spot a misused word, it bothers me because catching those mistakes is the editor’s job, whether that editor is hired by the author or by the publisher.

Not all authors are good at spelling even though they are darn good at story-telling. Still, there are usage guides available in print and online to help authors catch those common errors and learn to avoid them. Even then, some mistakes will inevitably slip by. That’s where the editor/proofreader should provide the safety net. I expect to find occasional errors in self-published work, especially that for which the author didn’t hire an editor or proofreader, but one would think the professional publishers would hire editors who keep the guides handy on their desks/computer work stations. Not all of them apparently do because in addition to common misspellings like to for too and alter for altar, I’ve seen sentences with words missing and characters’ names that changed spelling from page to page.

I’ve also seen formatting issues, for instance blank lines between paragraphs. Now this does make for faster page turns, but fewer words on the screen makes me feel somewhat cheated, as if the novella somehow has fewer words overall than promised. That’s probably not true, but marketing is as much about perception as reality.

Another odd situation in one professionally published novella was the fact the title story actually comprised only 80% of the book (according to my Kindle’s book progress indicator). The remaining 20% was promo pages for at least five additional works offered by the publisher. Now, I fully expect publishers to put sample pages at the back of books, and I sometimes am intrigued enough to look for the upcoming book, but 20% of the book devoted to promo seemed a bit over the top. Plus, I thought I still had more story left, according to the meter.

None of these little peculiarities caused me to stop reading (other than to comment to my DH about a word misuse) or to enjoy the actual story any less. All of these authors told page-turning stories, but these little “blips” do pull the reader out of the story even if for a fraction of a second.
If you’ve had experiences with this sort of thing, please share. What’s come to your attention lately?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Refrigerator Adjustments—Don’t Bump Your Head and Hang onto the Rag!

We’ve had our new refrigerator for a month, and I’ve discovered on the drawback side that it has one fewer shelf and only two produce drawers instead of the three the old one had. I’m still trying to figure out the best spacing for the shelves. On the plus side, it has much more door shelf space and the shelves in the body are deeper. I can put much more in the door, but I have a hard time finding space for bags of salad and stalks of celery. But these are the adjustments one expects with a new model. However, there are some unexpected adjustments (lessons) too.

Lesson #1: Don’t bump your head.

The outer door handles stick out farther, and we’ve both bumped our heads and/or shoulders on the freezer door while trying to put in or take out things from the fridge section.

Lesson #2: Hold onto the rag when dusting!

My DH insists on dusting/vacuuming the space between the fridge and the cabinet. This new fridge fits tighter to the cabinet and there’s no more than an inch of space there, but he insisted on cleaning there as usual. I told him, “Use a rag draped over a yardstick, and hang onto the rag.”

My DH heard the first part but not the second, so when I came home, he had the rag stuck way back in the narrow space and was prepared to pull out the fridge to remove it. Now the last thing I wanted to do at 7 p.m. was pull out a fridge that fit perfectly where it was, so I applied my creative problem-solving skills, opened a wire coat hanger, shaped it into a stick with a hook on the end, and pulled out the rag.

While my solution may have looked brilliant, I assured him it was born of experience, having “lost a rag” myself more than once. Which leads me to the final lesson…

Lesson #3: If someone wants to clean, let him.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful new year!