Friday, March 16, 2012

Being Perfect

Like large chunks of the population of the USA, our family has the TV tuned into March Madness.  Except for my daughter, everyone in our family, me, my husband and five sons played some high school basketball.  The college tournament showcases a lot of teams that aren't usually featured on national coverage.  Sometimes those 'no name' teams are huge underdogs and pretty much expected to lose.  But once in a while, one of those newcomers to the big show beat the favorite.  Sometimes they have success beyond their wildest expectations.  But to do so, they have to play nearly perfect.  No mistakes, no turnovers, make their shots, in other words they need to be nearly perfect.

I'm sure many of us have read a book by a bestselling author and found mistakes. Spelling, grammatical or perhaps what appears to be a sagging middle or plot hole. Perhaps we thought some of the dialogue was still and unnatural or a character was unlovable, or some other weakness that we suspect would be unacceptable for a new author trying to sell that first manuscript.  Writers published by small presses are sometimes closely scrutinized for the quality of the editing and the substance of their books.  Writers who work for small presses or who dare to self-publish are the underdogs against the big names in the publishing show. To come out on top against these well-established and well-known book publishers, the independents have to walk closer to the level of perfection.  Their book isn't going to get published or isn't going to sell because they've sold twenty other bestsellers before this one.

But like those underdogs in the March Madness basketball games, the excitement of being part of the game, reaching that level of success, will inspire great performance.  We often hear sports announcers saying a player is giving  110%, which is impossible of course, but like those players, new authors have to work hard, giving full effort and perhaps for a long time, if we are to reach the next level in the bracket and reach the finals of the big show.

So are you into March Madness? Have you read some books from bestselling authors that don't seem to have the same level of editing as in previous novels?


  1. I agree. Since the best authors are known well, people will be more likely to buy their books even if they aren't as good as a book by a self published author.

    BTW I found the mistake :) it took a ridiculously long time to do it though! I got so confused! But then when I found it, it was right in my face!! That's cool :)

  2. People tend to forgive big name authors for those kind of mistakes as their wuality of work is proven (usually). For smaller and debut authors, even a single spelling mistake can rob you of a good reading experience. I know it shouldn't, but it happens :(

    On the flip side, it means that if a debut author wows over a reader, it's triple the wow-ness of a best selling author because there have been larger barriers to overcome.

  3. Then again, enough mistakes and plot holes and sagging middles and eventually even fans will lose interest in the big authors.
    Found the mistake!

  4. I've abandoned some authors because the quality of their work began to slide.

  5. I just finished reading a book that seemed to have no editing whatsoever. It was very distracting.

    And no, I'm not into March Madness. Basketball is one sport I'm just not that interested in. I usually only watch if the Celtics are playing for the title.

  6. Good job finding the mistake, Alex and Jess.
    I'm distracted by every mistake I find in a book too, M.J.
    I like your 'flip side' insight, Jamie.
    I know what you mean, L. Diane, though I would never out their names on my blog. I recently read a book by what was once my favorite fantasy author and it was so preachy and the characters so stiff I put it down and didn't finish.

  7. I've stopped reading some authors published by the big houses because the writing and/or editing's so terrible.
    I have my own version of March Madness going on!

  8. Basketball is a sport I played all the way to the semi-pro level but never really watched...

    Who I read doesn't change as much as what I read.

  9. Someday we'll have to compare notes, Cate.
    I envy you, Michael. I loved playing basketball and dreamed of going on beyond HS and college. You got to live it.

  10. I'm always finding typos in published books and it annoys me.

    Also annoying; that took me forever to find the mistake. Ages. I'm so embarrassed I need to hide under my desk for an hour or so!

    By the way, I've tagged you in the Lucky 7 Meme over at my blog.

  11. Oh my! I even went as far as googling it. This is evidence that our minds correct/assume what we see. Like when you only see the lower half of the text - we can still read a sentence:

  12. No basketball here in England I'm afraid!

    I definitely think that some (by no means all) 'big' authors seem to slide, the more books they have. I don't know why that is, but I've stopped reading a few because of it.