Although I wrote a blog a few years ago about the typographical errors in books and their unintentional entertainment value, I (sadly) feel the need to revisit this subject. Since I wrote that blog back in early 2010, I’ve been reading a lot more self-published stuff – in the form of books as well as ebooks – and the frequency of grammatical errors in some of these works is just mind-boggling at times.


Punctuation errors and misspelled words are more than just annoying – it can absolutely ruin a reading experience for me. How is it that a writer can devote so much time – and in most cases, money – to self-publish a book but then not bother to make sure the punctuation, spelling, and grammar are correct?


Here is some advice to all of you self-published and aspiring writers out there: hire a proofreader or an editor – the money that you use for this service will be well spent and could mean the difference between a positive review and a negative one.


The monumental significance of writers understanding the basic rules of grammar and knowing how to spell got me to thinking – one misspelled word can change, well, everything!


Can you imagine downloading these paranormal fantasy novels on your nook?


Bed-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

Liver Reborn by J.R. Ward

Cerulean Shins by Laurell K. Hamilton

A Rash of Wings by Adrian Phoenix

Dead until Dork by Charlaine Harris

Halfway to the Grape by Jeaniene Frost

City of Bongs by Cassandra Clare

Breaking Down by Stephenie Meyer

The Queen of the Darned by Anne Rice

Trucking with the Tempest by Nicole Peeler




And let’s not forget science fiction/fantasy!


The Wise Man's Rear by Patrick Rothfuss

Breadline by Mira Grant

A Discovery of Watches by Deborah Harkness

The Massage by Justin Cronin

A Game of Thongs by George R.R. Martin

Starship Poopers by Robert A. Heinlein

At the Mountains of Mudness by H.P. Lovecraft

The Stank by Stephen King

Strangler in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

 • The Cook of Cthulhu edited by Ross E. Lockhart



Or how about these classics?


The Drapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Lord of the Fries by William Golding

Slaughterhouse-Jive by Kurt Vonnegut

Of Lice and Men by John Steinbeck

Invisible Van by Ralph Ellison

As I Lay Drying by William Faulkner

To Fill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Baked Lunch by William S. Burroughs

A Broom with a View by E.M. Forster

The Sound and the Furry by William Faulkner



So, again, a word to the wise – if you are contemplating self-publishing a novel, please seek out and find a proofreader or editor before unleashing your magnum opus onto the world. It will be money well spent. Thank you from the bottom of my heard.



Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. 


 Keep up with all of my blogs – as well as all of Barnes & Noble’s exclusive reviews, authors interviews, videos, promotions, and more – by following @BNBuzz on Twitter!

by Cali_Ali ‎03-29-2012 09:23 PM - edited ‎03-29-2012 09:25 PM

Oi, could not agree more. It'd be like selling a beautifully crafted wooden chair without sanding the dang thing. Simple editing and/or proofing may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but those little rough spots in a book can add up for the the worst way.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts (again! ^_^) on this issue.

by gezza on ‎03-29-2012 10:37 PM

I nearly killed myself laughing, Paul (being of Dutch ancestry, I can't help cacking myself with lavatory humor) - I did noticed you seemed to be biased toward bodily functions - a Dutch ancestor somewhere?.


I can't agree more regarding SPAG. I am the Chief Editor of a small trad publishing house - only producing a dozen or so titles a year, and I can honestly say that the biggest effort is the editing/proofing iterations, and that is also what differentiates what we produce from what TENS OF THOUSANDS of self publisher publish. Some get it right, a s**tload don't. I despair over some friends' efforts and the let down that occurs.


Thanks for your insight, as well as you keen sense of humor.



by Htom_Serveaux on ‎03-30-2012 08:52 AM
I don't know, I might just make it all the way through "A Game of Thongs", which is more than I managed with the original. And I think Hunter S. Thompson's got that whole "Baked Lunch" idea covered.
by on ‎03-30-2012 10:19 AM

I have read bad stories to the end, just because I can't leave a book unfinished once I start it.


However I have abandoned badly written (spelling, typos, grammar) stories after the first few pages.


by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎03-30-2012 10:29 AM

Well said, Larry – and although this is meant to be a fun post, ultimately I wrote this blog because I do read so many self-published releases with so much potential. If the SPAG issues could be addressed, many of these books that are being put down because of the aforementioned problems would be actually read and enjoyed.

by RpD on ‎03-30-2012 10:49 AM

Errors slip in sometimes via larger publishers.

In A Dance with Dragons, when reading about a fearsome warrior named Tormund Giantsbane, it's quite comical in the ebook to read his opposition, the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, say “You're a good man, Tormund Giantsbabe. For a wildling." (To which the 'Giantsbabe' replies “Better than most, might be. Not so good as some.")

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎03-30-2012 02:50 PM

Very good Paul, and I agree with you about self published authors, although I must disclose that I rarely read a work that's not an arc and so am not really too disturbed by a he that should be a she. But as far as a published work goes it shouldn't matter if it's self published or published by a gargantuan brick and mortar house a consumer deserves a good product and I know that mistakes will happen and things get by even the best editor but I've talked to people who won't give any self-pubbed author a look because of the inferior product he's been subjected to in the past so it's the old a few bad apples all over again happening.

thanks for the article Paul as always it's great


by on ‎03-31-2012 09:10 AM

I agree it is hard to work through a good book when you keep seeing problems that are easy to find and fix. And Paul I really like the way you presented this problem. Great article!

by on ‎03-31-2012 06:53 PM
I bought a Nookbook of Alien Influences by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Whoever transcribed the book had left notes on every typo she corrected, in a different typeface, apparently assuming that the editor would review the changes to make sure they were appropriate. Seems that there actually was no editor.


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