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Did you proofread your book’s marketing and promotion materials?

I viewed a book video/trailer this week through a link provided by the author in a LinkedIn discussion. He had created the video himself and was justifiably proud. Though too long, it had interesting images, great music that suggested the book’s mood and tone, and pulsating text that drew me in.

It also had a few obvious typos.

I wanted to point them out so that he could correct them, but didn’t want to look like the petty nitpicker that I am. In the end (after debating with myself for about a minute — “Should I tell him? Should I mind my own business?”), I decided to tell him. After all, as you and I know, quality counts.

If his self-produced book trailer has typos, there’s little doubt that his self-published book has them, too.

“Don’t read me!”

Mistakes in marketing materials shout at potential readers, “Don’t read me! Don’t read me! The typos and bad sentence structure and never-ending paragraphs will keep you from enjoying the story!”

So . . . I told him.

He replied that he couldn’t fix the mistakes for technology reasons. I wanted to suggest that he stop using the book trailer if he couldn’t fix it, but managed to mind my own business this time.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a friend (and professional writer) posted on Facebook that her webmaster had spelled one word in her book title wrong on the website and in the corresponding URL. She tapped the collective wisdom of the group by asking, “Should I ask him to correct it?”

Hell, yes!

One responder noted that the mistake would reflect badly on her.

Nobody said, “Fuhggedaboudit.”

Mistakes cause problems

Here’s the deal: Proofreading your marketing materials is easy. Proofreading an entire manuscript is hard. If you can’t be bothered to make sure that you’ve spelled “diva” correctly in your book video (or worse, that you don’t even know that it’s not spelled “deva”), then we will presume that your book’s manuscript is even worse. Not many people are willing to read a book that is riddled with mistakes.

Even those who aren’t gud spellrs themselves can spot mistakes that others make — and be frustrated enough to wish they hadn’t bought the book.

And who is more likely to comment on the book on Amazon, B&N, or any other retail site that accepts reader comments? The person who feels ripped off or the person who thought the book was pretty good? We are moved to comment when we’re annoyed, not when we’re satisfied. If your book has problems, it won’t be a secret for long.

Your marketing materials are a window into the quality of your book. Even if you pay somebody to create them, proofread them carefully, and make sure they are visually appealing. They are your book’s business card. If your book is good — and I know you think that it is — then your promotional materials should be good, too.

What’s your take on this? What quality level do you expect in a book that you’ve purchased?

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  1. I am in your camp! Because I want folks to review my books, I am reading books I have purchased from other authors with the intent of reviewing them. HELP! I only write positive reviews and some of these are poorly written. Right now I am trying to decide how to handle a situation where someone did me a great favor insofar as marketing is concerned. After I thanked her, she asked me to review her picture book. Mercy me! I can not find one good thing about this published book.

    1. Aw, Hope, sure you can! Maybe it’s the book’s topic, or the character names, or the book’s message…there must be one good thing, right?

      : )


  2. Sandra,

    There’s no doubt that the quality of proofreading is in decline. I’ve seen grammatical errors even in the Wall Street Journal lately.

    My favorite (?) is all those people who believe “its” looks naked without an apostrophe, regardless of how it is used in the sentence.

    Errors are totally unacceptable on a book cover. They are inexcusable on a website because they can easily be fixed.

    One or two small ones in a book do not upset me (though maybe they should). Anyone who posts a negative review for something so petty has a screw loose.

    Go ahead and toss the tomatoes my way. I’m ducking already.


    1. No tomatoes coming from me, Diana! I can’t even read restaurant menus w/out my head exploding.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment — I appreciate it!


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