I know I seem to have a lot of pet peeves, but ninety-nine percent of them are focused on the one thing I love: the written word. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, I love the written word. I love stories, I love new worlds and histories. I love meeting new characters, fiction or nonfiction. My library just keeps growing, and I hope it never stops. However, I’ve been reading a rash of books lately, well, it’s not just been lately, but I’ve finally gotten fed up with it, that have a copious amount of errors. I understand homophones and words that sound similar, especially in the day and age of dictation software. I sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) chuckle when I see exasperated when a person meant exacerbated, but please, for the love of all that is holy, do your research.
If your main character, for example, is based on a true, historical figure, like Genghis Khan, please do not confuse him with someone like Atilla the Hun. I was recently reading a book about Genghis Khan and I had to put it down because the author spelled his name wrong. It seems crazy to do so for a single mistake, and I told myself this very thing, but then it was done over and over. The author either misspelled his name or didn’t capitalize it. The author had other dates and such wrong, so I stopped reading. Sadly, if I had not known the differences between what the author was claiming and what is historically known about him, I might be inclined to believe the author.
So why is this relevant, you might ask? What am I trying to say here?
Simply this: Make sure you get your facts straight or people will put down your book. If you are doing historical fiction, nonfiction, or fiction set in today’s world, get your facts straight. If you are writing science fiction or fantasy, make sure your world makes sense and don’t just say that magic is the reason for inconsistency or come up with a lame excuse as to why your characters or plot lines aren’t consistent. Getting your characters, plot lines, timelines, historical facts, or whatever else right the first time before it comes to publication will save you a lot of hate and discontent later on down the road, especially when you start getting one star reviews because people love to hate on stuff on the Internet.
Do authors and editors make mistakes? Of course. We’re all human, nobody is perfect. However, getting a good editor, looking up facts, and verifying sources will go a long way to making your work enjoyable to others. It may help get you some extra stars on a review too!