I’ve never read anything that was actually published with more basic errors. Poor grammar abounded. The author had NO concept of how to use quotation marks. Sometimes there was no quotation mark at the end of a quote and sometimes there wasn’t one at the beginning. If the quote involved more than one paragraph...the reader pretty much had to wing it trying to figure out what was going on.
On top of that, the story, which was about the American West (which I obviously love) included numerous errors in geography and history. Okay, I’ll grant that playing fast and loose with history is the stock in trade of a historical novelist, but geography?? You just can’t get from central South Dakota to central Montana in two days on horseback. Winged Pegasus himself couldn’t get the job done.
Then there was the nonfiction piece on a facet of Western history I just finished that had numerous repetitions. A fact stated in one paragraph and restated two paragraphs later made it seem as if two different writers were working on the project and just did a copy-and-paste of their work into the finished document.
This is exactly why self-publishing gets such a bad rap from those snooty folks who run traditional publishing.
Which leads me to my point: if you’re writing something for others to read (and which of us isn’t), edit the darn thing. Carefully. Completely.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty rotten at catching my own typos. That’s why I have others read my work carefully. I also use them to catch bloat that needs to be trimmed or point out inconsistencies or flat-out mistakes that might leave a reader scratching her/his head--as in “How come this character had a terrible accident in Chapter 7 and popped up again hale and hearty in Chapter 8?”
And stuff still gets through the cracks. So I keep editing, trimming, rearranging, checking and having my editors reread.
The bottom line: edit your own work early and often. Be VERY self-critical. But make sure qualified others read and reread your stuff, too. (Some online editing services are very valuable, and some are WAY more expensive than they should be, but that’s a topic for another day.)
There. I feel better. End of sermon.