November 28, 2013
Needed Advice For eBook Authors: Check Spelling And Grammar

When I cruise around the complaints in reviews of Amazon Kindle ebooks (books which have no physical book equivalent) the most amazing recurring complaint is bad spelling. Why amazing? It is such an easily avoidable problem. Spell checkers are ubiquitous. The Mozilla Seamonkey browser I'm typing this post in is complaining to me with jagged red underlines as I make spelling mistakes. Granted I do not always notice those red lines when trying to finish up a post so I can go to sleep. But I'm not writing a book and not trying to charge for what I'm doing. But book authors do hope to get people to spend money and then recommend the book to others.

As the reviews of amateur books make clear the spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes are distracting and irritating. Yet cheap automated text checking software (see below) makes most of these mistakes are easy to avoid. What is going on in the minds of amateur writers? Why do so many amateurs publish books with atrocious spelling (and grammar) get published? Are Kindle book writers just using Microsoft Notepad or Wordpad to write their books? Just what are they using that does not have a built-in spell checker? Or are they ignoring the spelling error indicators?

Google Docs and Microsoft Word both have continuous spell checking. Google Docs is free. Hey eBook authors: free!

Next comes grammar. Microsoft Word has a grammar checker built in too. But say you do not want to spend that much money. Okay, try a web search on automatic grammar checker. Lots to choose from and some of them are free. So why not use one?

I just tried out correctly complains for "Were" instead of "Where" and "There" instead of "Their". It did not complain about "righting" instead of "writing".

Time to test a few online grammar checkers. How do they stack up0? Does it notice if I use the wrong verb to describe what I am doing? Time to take a trip. Were are we going? Okay, we are moving across the country and see a car stopped. There car is stuck in the mud. We met a woman coming back from a competition. She won the righting contest as judged by book authors.

Check out this review of online grammar checkers. The review compares Grammarly, WhiteSmoke, CorrectEnglish Complete, SpellCheckPlus Pro, and Ginger. If you are going to spend months writing a book then buy a few spelling, punctuation, and grammar checkers. Run your book thru them. Otherwise you run the risk of getting savaged in the reviews of online book stores for really easily avoidable reasons.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2013 November 28 01:04 PM 

Ronald Brak said at November 28, 2013 4:43 PM:

It might be that younger authors, who are targeting other young people, are using LEET speak that seems natural to them which of cause gives many people the screaming heebie jeebies and so they complain bitterly about the spelling. Just a guess mind you.

ADL said at November 29, 2013 1:32 AM:

As a non-American native English speaker it irritates me that these tools generally only work properly for the American dialect. But free web tools are rather far from being the only culprits in this regard: I have yet to find out how to get some of Apple's products to recogni"z"e even the most common and obvious British spellings.

But in general you're right, more or less correct American would be preferable to a lot of the sloppy barely-literate stuff one sees.

LoboSolo said at December 13, 2013 1:54 PM:

As a reformer for better spelling ... and a writer ... I often note more fonetic spellings but I warn my readers in the foreward (if they bother to read it) that simplified spelling is noted thruout the book. I stoppt writing t-h-r-o-u-g-h many years ago as a teen. That must be one of the dumbest way to spell that word. It is neither fonetically right nor etymologically right (Old English žurh ž=th). As a soldier and a lawman we were told to write "thru" rather than "through" ... I had no problem with that as I was alreddy doing it.

David A. Young said at December 14, 2013 1:11 PM:

Sorry, LoboSolo, but I'm simply not interested in hacking my way through your personal interpretation of the English language. If you can't be bothered to write in standard English, I can't be bothered to read your work.

I think a large part of the problem is that too many of these writers simply don't realize the importance of reading their own work over and over again. I've been a professional technical writer for more than thirty years, and yet, even with all that experience and all the tools available, I'm still catching errors in paragraphs that I've already read through three or four times. Read it over, read it out loud, then read it over again. There's no substitute for that scut work. (I just had to check whether "scut" was spelled with one "t" or two.)

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