Who’s That Trip-Trapping Over My Bridge?

It’s a troll!

Okay, I know. The troll was under the bridge and it was the Billy Goats Gruff doing the trip-trapping.



Where was I last post? Oh yes, poor quality self-published books.

A little while ago a blogging friend of mine reviewed a self-published book on Goodreads, and gave it three stars out of five, on the basis that the book was full of editing errors. For this, she was then trolled by another member – not the author in question, but I suspect she was a friend of the author, although it is not impossible it was just someone out to cause trouble.

This troll was furious that anyone would mark down a book for being poorly edited and poorly formatted. She then went on to personally attack the reviewer. I don’t know the outcome, but I certainly hope a complaint was made and the troll blocked from Goodreads.

I wonder, have we really got to a point where it is considered perfectly acceptable to publish something of poor quality and no one is allowed to point out this fact? Is this another consequence of the self-publishing phenomenon coupled with many people’s unwillingness to tolerate any views other than their own?

51 thoughts on “Who’s That Trip-Trapping Over My Bridge?

  1. I have this conversation all the time because I am horrible with grammar or spelling. Here’s my hopefully I troll like take. When I’m reading I get sucked in by a good story, whether it be a book, article or blog. I’m reading what the author says and how they say it. I’m also a fast reader. I see the sentence as a whole but my brain just picks out the relevant passages…I’m not looking for incorrect punctuation, or bad formatting. I literally do not see these errors. So I admit I get mad when people won’t read something because of grammar, but it all comes from the perspective of the reader and what’s more important. I wrote a scathing review of a book (last Thursday) and it was scathing cause of content. There’s going to be a war soon….grammar vs free style…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think if it reads badly, it gives me a jolt. I’m not personally over concerned with the minutiae of bad grammar, but the glaring errors do make me wince and distract me from the story. And it’s unprofessional; I get left with the feeling that the author does not really care too much about their own story. And if you’ve spent a long time over it, why not take a little more to make it the best it can be?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I agree on glaring errors. Misplaced commas can make something impossible to read, and I agree that you should take care, especially with a book. But, when people get nuts because you used a dash incorrectly….or an ellipses… My general feeling is that we no longer write like people did centuries ago, and grammar is going to evolve to a certain extent. Different errors beget different schools of thought about the written word. My daughters generation is barely taught grammar, so how can they think it’s important if it’s only given a passing glance at school? I know people will not read my blog because I am horrible at grammar. And I admit I don’t edit my writing. I write something, try to make sure there are no glaring errors, and I hit send. Some call me lazy. For me, this is supposed to be fun. If I start grammar checking it will no longer be fun. But, I do understand the various thoughts on this

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Writing evolves with language, yes, and grammar therefore does too, albeit at a slower rate. And that does complicate things.

          No, we no longer write the same as in, for example, the eighteenth century. But most of us find reading those works quite hard going, unless they’ve been re-written (re-edited), which is why the grammar rules have changed. But we can’t throw them completely out of the window, because the rules exist in the first place to ensure that written works are understood as the writer intends them to be understood.

          I think we have more leeway writing blogs, though, as there is certainly less of an expectation they will be grammatically perfect. When was the last time you some one blogger pull up another for grammar?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I also think, as time goes on, less people will read the classics. My daughter had a year of classics as a freshman, but I see her required reading becoming more and more modern. The kids today are having trouble grasping things from a historical stand point. She read “the awakening” last year, and she argued that the book was in no way feminist because she couldn’t grasp the perspective of when it was written. I think that as part of history a student should have to read fiction from that era, but that’s a whole other view of education I can’t get into!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I’m sure that’s true, as language evolves and moves away from the language used when they were written. not surprisingly, for that reason we find it harder today to read and enjoy The Canterbury Tales than we do Charles Dickens, and harder to read Dickens than Hemingway. That may be a reason to re-write these earlier books (although I do believe you would lose a little of something by doing so; a sort of ‘flavour’ of the times), or to add a glossary, of course, for words now considered archaic.

              But I think they are entirely necessary, still, as novels bring alive the historical setting in a way text books don’t. And to forget history is to invite disaster!

              Liked by 2 people

              1. It’s funny, because I’m reading a book now, light but enjoyable “dear Mrs. Bird”. It takes place in London WWII, and I feel like people are revising history. Though the language is evocative of the era, the thoughts of the characters are somewhat modern, with the outlier being the person who was probably more the rule back then. It’s annoying me. Like you said…you can’t forget history

                Liked by 1 person

                1. The revisionist problem is not an uncommon one. Hilary Mantell’s ‘Wolf Hall’ has been accused of falsifying the character of Thomas Cromwell by some historians. Obviously, what we know of history is always open to interpretation, but that’s another post entirely!

                  Liked by 1 person

  2. well, this is a topic i’ve been seeing a lot lately. Admittedly, when i rate a book, i don’t count editing mistakes, only the content. I haven’t really thought about the mistakes as a negative point against the author.
    I do, however, stop reading if the mistakes are too much. and i don’t rate books i dnf.
    But, if someone tells me my book has editing mistakes, what do i do? i try to fix them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I certainly wouldn’t hold the minor editing errors against them – after all, I’m sure my own book has them – but one that’s absolutely full of bad, glaring, errors (and boy, I’ve seen a few!) I would definitely avoid. And if I was to review it, I would point them out and mark down the score accordingly. After all, you’re giving others your opinion on whether the book is worth reading or not.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Criticism has to be constructive and if we dont allow that – we never learn. Surely the point of these Goodreads is to allow us to improve. If a book is only marked for its story line, then if you send it to an editor, they will chuck it back for being sloppy. I know I have lots of typos because I am impatient and type quickly and inaccurately but when I read something back of mine, that is badly checked, feel embarrassed. I think part of the marking has to involve presentation.
    Trolls – just bullies in hiding. I wonder if they would be so brave if they had to say it face to face

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it needs to be constructive. Neither talking up a poor piece of work to either flatter the writer or because it feels somehow wrong to be critical, nor aggressively attacking something or someone unnecessarily. That should be the purpose of Goodreads – indeed, that is the reason I’m on there, as I see it as a useful and constructive tool. I am also disappointed in that there are a few reviewers on there who only ever award 5 stars in their reviews; that comes across as implying their reviews are meaningless.

      And face to face? Indeed they wouldn’t. that is part of the problem of Social Media, of course.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with you, Mick. Every effort should be made to make sure books are well-edited and formatted. Above all, the readers deserve it. A few typos may slip into the best of books, but if misspellings and typos and crappy formatting interfere with the enjoyment of a book… it’s perfectly acceptable to reflect that in a review.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember having discussed a similar issue with a famous travel blogger. He mentioned that he never reads a blog if he finds lots of writing errors in the first few lines. There was a poll in one the blogging groups whether an interesting subject demands a read despite writing errors? Most bloggers agreed that if subject and writing style is good/awesome writing errors can be ignored. My personal views are the same. The funny thing is that in some software color is wrong whereas in others colour is wrong. Same is the case with- jewelry and jewellery! When English varies so much bringing perfection is impossible. Add to that for a large number of population, English is a second language. I’m sure that demands some leverage!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, the color / colour and other contradictions usually come down to ‘American English’ as opposed to ‘English English.’ This is another dilemma for publishing; many writers say you should go with ‘American English’ as the American market expects it, but in this case I would say go with what you feel is right. As I’m English, I go with the ‘English English’.

      Unfortunately, when someone buys a book, I don’t suppose they are going to take much notice whether the author’s first language is English or not. Only how the book reads. This is another dilemma, of course.

      As for blogs, I agree with the consensus, there. Unless the errors are truly appalling, I would ignore them and still read the blog. I don’t think one should expect the same rigorous editing in a blog post that one would expect in a published novel or a magazine article.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True, UK and US english varies. I also agree that people expect well written and error free writing in books. But like how things are changing this is also an evolution. Quite like flying today in an economy airlines vis a vis full fare airlines years ago. One can’t expect to be treated royally! I’m sure people will get used to it. It’s a matter of time.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Trolling is never appropriate, yet a critique of a critique is entirely legitimate. When criticizing on the basis of grammar or formatting, it is incumbent upon the critic to give some sense of whether the book is above or below par with its peers.

    If a book is free or cost $1, one should not expect professional editing. But let’s put it this way, I was once offered a “free” package by my cable company, I declined the offer by telling them, “that’s not worth free.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you wouldn’t expect the critique to be entirely about the grammar and the formatting. It should obviously be mainly about the writing itself. In the one I saw, the original critique did cover both, saying how it liked the story, but the presentation made it next to unreadable.

      Again, I agree about the price. That certainly influences the expectation.


  7. I’m certainly not a writing purist, and not a fan of fanatical grammar cops, who are often an especially annoying division of the Gotcha! Crowd, gleefully pouncing on the slightest slip-up. But most of the rules have a purpose! The comma in “Let’s eat, Grandma” is really important, unless you’re a cannibal. When someone’s writing is sloppy and unclear, it feels like they’re (spelled “their” in a lot of emails) imposing on our patience and good nature. Basically, they’re requiring me to waste a bit of my time, as I try to puzzle out what they’re trying to say. (I hope I made myself clear! 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, perfectly clear, Robert. It’s true – sloppy editing and bad grammar / bad formatting just make reading more demanding. And when it becomes more demanding than the reader feels it is worth, that’s another reader lost.

      And – absolutely! Those rules are there for a reason!


  8. I’m currently reading an outstanding nonfiction book on a subject of great interest to me. The author is clearly an expert in both her field and in writing. But it is riddled with errors–mostly misspellings of proper names and things like referring back to a certain chapter or page number but only leaving __ (a space indicating this was to be filled in later, but was overlooked). I’m finding that this carelessness has influenced my opinion of the book’s/author’s credibility. It feels like the publisher/author sacrificed the final round of proofreading to rush it out. And now that I’ve noticed so many errors while not looking for them, I find that I’ve started looking for them. This isn’t how I want to read a book, and I’m sure it’s not what the author was hoping for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, and it sounds like a good example of what the finished product should not be!

      Really, there is no excuse for the spaces left unfilled. It suggests the proofreading was completely skipped. And it’s interesting how you seem to be saying that you began with very high opinions of the author and that they were gradually eroded as you read their book. That’s exactly what we want to avoid.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Personally, bad grammar, spelling errors and even factual errors can ruin a book and make me stop reading it. When I’m reading a good book, I want to be lost in the story, and the errors jolt me out of it. I’ll tolerate a few, but that’s it.
    So I don’t think your friend was out of line at all, and I’m sorry that someone felt the need to attack. Sadly, we do live in an age where trying to intimidate those who disagree with us is sort of the norm.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Mick, minor errors are okay, but if a book is full of editing errors, then I’d say, ‘No, thank you!’ Same goes for blogs. I prefer reading people who care about what and how they write. Of course UK or US English is not an issue, but incomprehensible sentences definitely are… I draw the line there. I have in the past, forced myself to plod through some blogs because the owners have been kind enough to step into mine and leave comments. But one day I realized I was wasting precious time I could have otherwise used fruitfully reading better stuff. When I do read stuff full of errors, I make it a point to mentally correct each sentence (or try at least) before going to the next. I am particularly disappointed by online news reporting. Some of them are so bad.
    Having said this, let me add that English is not my first language and hence I probably make mistakes galore. 😀 As for bullying reviewers, nope, that’s not done at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If English is not your first language, Shail, then I am incredibly impressed by your command of it. Your writing certainly reads as though it were, and your command of language and grammar is a lot better than many for whom it is a first language.

      But no, I will make more allowances for blogs than I would for books or magazine articles, but when it becomes too much work I give up on them, too.


      1. I did study in an English medium school, but not a fancy one. It only meant that we did science, social studies etc in English. Unlike what I see today, we hardly did any grammar per se. It was lessons and question-answers towards the end. If you ask me I wouldn’t know a single rule of grammar other than the very basic, but I somehow get what’s right instinctively. When my children were learning grammar in school, I was amazed, I realized I didn’t know the half of it, the names anyway, though I was able to correct them if they went wrong.
        We spoke our mother tongue at home and with friends. There were no English shows to follow either, back in those days. Books were the only companions I had on a permanent basis. I owe my capabilities in the language if any, to reading and ONLY reading. I was (and am) a voracious reader of English books. 🙂
        Btw, I have always stood first in my class in English in school. I even won the first place for English in college during degree course. And guess what I got as prize? A book on Economics! what a disappointment that had been 😛

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think I am even more impressed, in that case. I fully understand what you mean by getting what’s right instinctively, and I feel my use of grammar works that way, too. But that does not mean you are ignorant of the rules, merely that you know them subconsciously rather than being able to label them. Reading is always a good way to learn and perfect a language – when I learned French at school we were encouraged to read French newspapers if we had the opportunity and when I learned Spanish in South America I made a point of reading the papers then. It’s the finest way I know of to begin to think in that other language.
          And Economics! Oh dear!

          Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.