I am currently rejoicing in having found a new way to circumvent the habit of a lifetime.
In the past I have found it impossible to write anything negative in a book review and I kludged my way through this pathological niceness by simply not reviewing books I felt ambivalent about.
There were other reasons that I failed to write a book review – lack of time, upheavals in my private life, lack of interest in or knowledge of the subject and on at least one occasion, when having sent an email promise to let me have a hardback first edition of their next book, signed with a personal handwritten inscription along the lines “For Jean Dark, I just LOVED your last book-review”, the author simply forgot to put the book in the post.
And I found other ways to deal with my negative bibliophilic sensibilities – if the book was in e-book format I wrote about the generic failings of electronic books and avoided discussing the book itself. So desperate was I not to upset anyone, particularly if I knew their name, or the title of a book they’d written.
And then I found myself on the horns of a dilemma. I was sent an e-book to review, I fell instantly in love with the style and content, but the e-manuscript had so many typos (typing errors as blatant as “ans” for “and” etc) that by the 2nd chapter I had so lost heart and viewed the book with such dread that the experience was utterly ruined for me.
It is from this place of despair that I formulated the following ploy to avoid appearing uncharitable:
One of my many gripes about e-books is that they often lack the basic elements that separate books from rambling hebephrenic babble. By that I don’t mean that the content is bad, it’s the production values that are at fault. For instance, a hard copy paper book would be laughed off the shelves if it lacked something as fundamental as a contents page. Yet I have been sent e-books to review in just that state. Books that consisted of plain solid text; with none of the expected markers and signposts – like chapters, page numbers, introductions, beginnings, endings, indexes, punctuation and contents page.
Where are all the proper pedantic pagan proof-readers when you need one?
In response to this common FAQ…
Jean Dark is now offering an e-book proof-reading service
(reduced rates for small presses)
For more details of proof-reading and editing services available contact email@example.com
See, I’m really nice even when I don’t wanna be.