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Friday, February 26, 2010

Spare the Proofing, Spoil the Blog

It must be my inner schoolmarm that makes me crazy whenever I see crimes against blogs being committed.

Sloppiness sucks.

While I place few demands on non writers, when writers blog, I expect a certain amount of technical professionalism, even if all they talk about is the weather on Mercury.

It's been quoted that agents and editors will often gauge the quality of a writer by his blog. I can guarantee you, I do the same thing as a reader. When I come across a new title that interests me, one of the first things I do is look up the author and see what his blog or web site looks like.

If the blog is friendly, interesting, or funny, he gets big brownie points and a spot on my reader, and possibly a sale.

If his posts are riddled with typos and rambling nonsensical sentences, he immediately goes into the penalty box. No sale for him.

I'm not talking about your generic misplaced punctuation or the occasional typo. (I'm not that OCD.) I'm talking about gross errors, the kind even my husband will notice.

What's worse is when I come across a writer who won't even own up to his mistakes. I remember one blogger who kept blaming her keyboard. Well, duh! Either get a new keyboard or fix the errors before you hit publish. How hard is that?

Another blogger, bless her heart, is part of a group blog I follow and like. I am positive she must be a wildly interesting person, but she writes such lengthy posts, I have never been able to finish a single one. The average post was 6000 words. (I checked.) Many were far longer.

If her blog posts ramble that much, how must her novels read?

So it's just not editors and agents who notice. Readers notice too.

I proofread my posts a ridiculous number of times because I don't want to be the cause of undue eye hemorrhaging and spontaneous brain tumors.

Greg mentioned recently how surprised he was at how often I called up the average post just to massage a word or two before it publishes.

Greg: I thought you finished that post.

Me: I did.

Greg: You've called it up eighteen times since you wrote it yesterday.

Me: So.

Greg: Well isn't that obsessive?

Me (rolling my eyes): What's your point?

At this stage of the conversation the smart husband just walks away.

See how easy that was?

How often do you edit before you hit publish? Does it bother you to see nits and typos on other blogs?


Dru said...

What I do is write my post, walk away, come back later for a final re-read before publishing and sometimes I miss one.

It doesn't bother me if there's a few typos but if every other word or paragraph has a typo, then yes, it would bother me.

Have a good weekend.

Maria Zannini said...

I find it best to do that too. Even then sometimes I miss things after it publishes and then I have to go back and fix it. D'oh!

Stay warm, Dru.

Sherri said...

At least twice, more if I end up adding something.

Even after it's published, I'll go back and fix it if I find something later or something is pointed out.

Kaz Augustin said...

Oh I thought it was just me! :) Some of my posts are written weeks in advance and revisited often till the day of posting. On the day of posting, I'll also use the Preview function several times to make sure the formatting looks good and catch any errors that I missed previously. I'm *mortified* when I misspell!

J tells me I've written a "long post" when I hit about 1,000 words. But 6,000 is a bit much for me to handle, even with my digital diarrhoea!

And yes, it does bother me to read author blogs with misspellings. The one that really gets me is using "your" for "you're".

Marian said...

I'm very picky about blogs - both mine and other people's.

I try to make sure that my posts are as error-free and lucid as possible before putting them up on my blog, and I read them over at least twice afterward to make sure there's nothing wrong.

There's only one writer's blog which I read despite the spelling (in this case, it's mostly rampant textspeak - e.g. "Hi, how R U guys? I just submitted 2 a magazine"). And that's only because the writer is involved with a vanity press and I'm hoping it doesn't turn out too badly in the end.

Maria Zannini said...

Sherri: I'm the same way. I always think I could have said it better. lol.

Maria Zannini said...

Kaz: When I'm tired my brain sometimes uses homophones for the right word.

I almost always catch it the next day, but I know it's my pre-English brain processing my writing when I'm tired and that makes the homophone mistake.

Ref: length
A good copywriter knows to keep posts (and paragraphs) short--especially on the internet.

If (God forbid!) I have to write an exceptionally long post, I'll break it down in two.

Maria Zannini said...

Marian: Textspeak is a pet peeve of mine.

But that's interesting that you follow this blogger to see the outcome of his decision.

I follow a couple of writers who are not ready for prime time (imo). I read them strictly out of curiosity. Both these people have a large following. For the life of me, I can't figure out what makes them so popular. It can't be the writing. It hurts my brain just reading their posts. LOL.

Yet they gather fans like flies to ....

I'm hoping it's just a generational thing, which also gives me cause for concern. :o)

Diandra said...

Hmpf, I usually think about something for a while, write it and publish it, often without proofreading it even a single time. I guess this may cause some typos, and in the last short story I put on my blog I changed the name of a person after half the story without noticing (and won't change it now, it stands the way it was published in the first place). Usually I would agree that this is bad habit, but - well, that's the way I have always been working, and it's difficult to change old habits.

(To me it is important that people put an effort in their blog posts. You have to see they didn't just write some nonsense that came to their mind. And if they are not good at grammar or spelling, they should know this and find ways to fix it, for mistakes make it more difficult for the reader. But apart from that...)

Concerning lengthy blog posts and topics - some people like it this way, some people don't. Since most of the time I read blogs during short breaks at work or in the evening when I am tired, I prefer short blog posts, but topic is more important to me.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Diandra!

Ref: I prefer short blog posts, but topic is more important to me.

You are absolutely right about content. The topic is more important than length, but due to the nature of the internet, most people can't idle too long on any one site. Better to break the post into two parts than take the chance on losing a reader.

Though I think 6k is excessive. The average article on an ezine or web site is 500-800 words. A longer article is considered 1200-1500 words.

As an editor for a newsletter, I am always editing articles down to manageable lengths to keep them from dragging down their message.

Marianne Arkins said...

and rambling nonsensical sentences...

Uh oh.

Rambling is my middle name.

I do admit to being a little crazy about proper grammar and spelling, but I'm sure I miss now and then.

This year, I was determined to be more focused, to have a specific topic for each post, to cut back on my rambling ... but, alas, that has not happened.


Maybe next year?

But, yes, I do agree with you -- when I come across a writer's blog that has posts riddled with errors, I won't buy their works. It doesn't take that long to proof a post of only 500 words or so, and if they don't know the difference between pique, peek and peak, they should learn. It's their job, after all.

Good post. Sorry I'm late. My powerlines had a run in with a tree. *G*

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: You don't ramble. You touch on a variety of subjects.

The person I was citing just went on and on about her topic, yet never seemed to make a point. That's rambling.

PS Glad you are back in the 21st century.

Shelley Munro said...

I will read long posts if the content interests me, but I generally prefer shorter posts. I dislike text speak - it irritates me. I can forgive a few errors. Lord knows, I've had a few slip past me since I tend to blog at night when I'm often tired. I proof my posts several times and usually get hubby to read them too. He LOVES finding errors.

Maria Zannini said...


Yup. If you have to read off a monitor it's painful to read really long posts.

If it's VERY good, I will sometimes print it, but in my experience, most long posts suffer from meandering disease.

catie james said...

I tend to be a "one-pass" blogger, but I'll write, read, re-write, re-read and re-write an entry before posting. I've never been big on multiple drafts - something I must deal with (eventually) seeing as novels/stories/plays/poems/etc. are rewritten, rather than written. During my school days (daze?), I wrote my final draft from note, completely by-passing the rough draft phase. Don't ask how I managed high scores on those papers, 'cause I never knew, attributing it to a combo of top-notch bullshitting and low-standards.

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: novels/stories/plays/poems/etc. are rewritten, rather than written

That is so true. A story doesn't start having legs until I'm at rewrite stage.