Wednesday, February 28, 2007

POD and [the problem with] grammar.

A lot of folks who feel POD books are substandard (usually true) quickly tug on the weakest link of the nature of self-published material: grammar.

True, it can be the weakest link (and the quickest way to fall into the trash bin [electronic or otherwise]) but it is fair (and safe) to say that almost all books contain some mistakes.

I had this same discussion with a NY Times bestselling author last week. I told her that all of my picks this year are as close to perfect as anything being published by the majors.

You'd think I was inclined to controversy, wouldn't you.

She read one of my picks for 2006 and reluctantly agreed that it was a superior text, but still maintained that the books produced by such noble publishers [like Knopf and Vintage] will always be superior.

That is when I explained to her that, though I highly enjoyed A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIOUS by Dave Eggers, a Vintage release in its paperback form as well as a Pulitzer Prize nominated memoir, was riddled (riddled, I say! [that means, like, a dozen errors]) with grammatical problems.

Now, before you blow a gasket, I understand that Dave Eggers was being creative with a lot of the grammar and word usage. I really do. But some errors were hard to overlook. And, frankly, it's not Dave's fault as much as it is the copyeditor's.

Anyway, my friend balked (of course). So I whipped it out and showed her example after example--even finding two errors within one page.

From the Vintage paperback:

Bottom of p.321: I'm certain it was supposed to read cardboard backing, not carboard backing.
Top of p. 322: "You like you're pleading for help."

Anyway, the actual errors are not the point. The point is: who cares? POD or not, a few glitches are no big deal. Ever read the goofs for movies listed on IMDB? Far worse than novels--and the budgets are 100 times higher.

So unless the book is so badly written that it's hard to read (I've tried to read at least a hundred in this category), just give it a try. It's probably worth it.



And here's an update on the Gather Writing contest. At 1,500 entries (and 200 a week coming in) it seems to have drawn all the folks who (wisely) passed on Sobol.