The Confusion of Editing

The confusion of editing is often raised in reviews of many books, often including comments on grammar and punctuation. Especially, on Kindle and other ebook readers. Yes, much of this is due to the author, mea culpa; however, the publishing industry, word processing software, and scholarly guides need to take their share of the blame. Reading existing books does not help. There are differences in various English versions. Even then, two books, from the same author, from the same publishing house, can have different grammar treatments and punctuation. This is particularly complex in recorded speech, where so called correct grammar, can make the written view ridiculous for example:

“He’s bad…,”, the character hesitated, then said, “really bad, or is he?”.


“He’s bad,” the character hesitated, then said, “really bad, or is he?”

I have seen both examples. The second one uses US English placing of the comma inside the speech marks. UK English should be outside, allegedly. I know which I prefer, and I have seen grammar guides that say both are correct, and others that neither are correct.

For me, I am trying to communicate my plot and descriptive material. I want my readers, what few I have, to be lost in my story, but I also want them to follow how I am hearing my characters speak; therefore, I am guilty of using punctuation to force pauses or continuations, where they may not be grammatically correct.

The final problem is the conversion software for e-books and even printed books losing planned punctuation. Even PDF submissions seem to lose data. Without reading and editing, and submitting, and proof reading, again, on each version of each device, it’s impossible for a one man band to do it. No one is paying me, and the cost of professional editing is unlikely to be recovered from book sales.

I have resorted to reissuing versions especially on Kindle, but getting Amazon to notify readers that downloaded that the version has been updated is a slower process. Paper versions are even harder with Lulu for example insisting on a review and proof copy.

0 thoughts on “The Confusion of Editing

  1. Pingback: Sleepless in B’town | Run4joy59's Blog

  2. Ahh…something I hadn’t considered…I tend to blame the author for improper grammar or punctuation. Perhaps now I’ll be a little more lenient…possibly. Personally, I don’t find the use of punctuation to signify pauses or continuations to be improper, probably because I do the same thing myself.

    • The discrepancies between US English and UK English then Australian not only feature spelling but also grammatical use, plus publishing houses have their own styles.

      I still get it wrong, recent examples are wonder and wander along with to and too.

      Software rarely helps editors and proof readers should but even they miss some. Just reading the latest work by a well known author and there were two typos on one page!

      I re0edit when I hear about problems and if the user has a kindle set with auto downloads they should get the new version with my corrections

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