Rise of the eBook – Oh where, oh where have the editors gone?

With the ever-growing popularity of electronic books, more and more authors are beginning to self-publish in eBook format. While this is a great opportunity for many young writers who wouldn’t be given the time of day by the large publishing houses – or even some of the smaller ones – it has allowed for unedited books to make their way into the hands and eReaders of avid book lovers.

While most of the print editions of these self- or independently published works receive a bit more of a review process, often their electronic formatted counterparts don’t. And while it is nice to get something easily downloadable – at little or no cost – and which doesn’t set the author back financially, it doesn’t quite make up for the fact that just a little piece of the connection the reader has with the story and characters is broken when they have to stumble through dialog and descriptions fraught with errors.

With Twitter, blogs, and online publications whose viewers expect up-to-the-minute information, it’s easy to want to rush to get something out quickly – even with mistakes – just to be timely and not miss the moment. And for these forms of communication readers are willing to accept less than perfect results just to get the information. But with a book – something that is to be enjoyed, at leisure – it is a chance for the reader to escape, to connect with the characters, to sympathize with their plight, to follow along on their adventures, and to take the journey the author has created for them.

But when you sit down to delve into a newly downloaded book, ready to engage with the storyline and characters – whether it is by an author you’ve read before or by someone new – and you find that on the very first page that words are misspelled, in the wrong tense, missing, incorrect, or in the wrong order, it makes it very difficult to keep an open mind for the remainder of the book. If page one could be so overlooked does that bode poorly for the rest of the story? And if an author seems to care so little for his or her work, to not give it a final look, why should the reader? It’s one thing to find an occasional mistake, but when page after page of the final work product continues in the same vein, why should the reader invest their time when it might appear that the author didn’t?

To be fair, a traditionally published novel goes through a rather rigorous editorial and proofreading process – with resources that an independent writer wouldn’t have at their disposal. However, there are other options – whether it be a friend or family member or trusted fan or follower – there is always someone who would be willing to review the authors work prior to publication. Even with publication deadlines, or just the need to “get it out there already,” first impressions do matter. And for an undiscovered author trying to make a name for themselves, or even a self-publishing author who already has an established fan-base, it is always best to deliver a product that they can be proud of, that their fans won’t be disappointed in, or one that won’t receive unnecessary criticism.

While the eBook makes publishing that much easier, less expensive, and quick-to-market, it shouldn’t be of lesser quality than a printed book. And with the publishing industry still continuing to struggle as fewer and fewer readers opt to purchase print copies of magazines and newspapers, there surely must be a few editors, copywriters and proofreaders, with some extra time on their hands, willing to lend a hand. They can’t all have disappeared into the ether, or can they?

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