I’ve been thinking about this for a while. As not only a professional book editor and author, I decided to ask myself this very question, but I wanted to give an honest answer.
The problem with an editor reviewing books is multifold. As I read, I cannot ignore errors in not only spelling or punctuation, but in sentence structure and the proper use of the words I and me. Every word I read, I am totally conscious of each of these things. While I can forgive some punctuation errors, I just can’t ignore the other types of errors that so many authors make today.
Unfortunately, these errors are not unique and exclusive to new authors, but they extend even into best selling authors. The errors in both are inexcusable, and I have to ask who is editing some of these books? One of the biggest complaints from readers are the improper use of words, duplication of the same things within not only one book, but through to all the others in a series.
Another problem and complaint is spelling. For instance, the use of “passed” and “past” are horribly used incorrectly and interchangeably. However, the most egregious of all errors are the improper use of I and me. I read a sentence today that made my teeth grit. While I will not quote that particular line, it was similar to this…
“Janie decided to go with Tara, Mark, Lonnie, and I.”
I do not understand what our schools are teaching these days, but this is absolutely WRONG! There is a simple test for this. Taking the same sentence, but eliminating all but “I”, read the sentence aloud.
“Janie decided to go with I.”
Now, this doesn’t make a bit of sense at all, so “I” is not the right word. Taking the same sentence, and replacing it with me, yields:
“Janie decided to go with me.”
NOW, change I to me in the sentence.
“Janie decided to go with Tara, Mark, Lonnie, and me.”
This is the CORRECT way to write this sentence. But, for some reason, these errors are not only cropping up in books, articles, short stories, essays, newspapers (online and paper), magazines, and more, but now it is creeping into TV shows and movies! The other night, I heard this same thing on TV, and I just felt my teeth grit, again!
I don’t know what’s going on, but as I said before…the biggest complaints from readers are about spelling in improperly used language. And, I can’t blame them. The only thing I can deduce is that it is our school system who is not teaching English properly.
How to correct this is like going upstream with no paddle on rapids. No matter how much you try to steer the boat a different way, the boat continues to go in the wrong direction, before going over some steep falls.
Concluding my thought and as an editor, I have to say it’s much harder to give a review to a book, or other publication. Does an Editor make a good reviewer? In my own person opinion, the answer is no. I once read a book that was so full of errors and duplications, I had to stop. Yet the book had the potential to be really great!
Good editing can make the difference between a mediocre book and a best seller, but in today’s writings, there are still those books on the best seller list that are horribly edited, yet they are still popular. I can’t figure this one out, but when I do, I’ll let you know!