Now that I own a Kindle, I bought myself the latest Wallander novel by Henning Mankell. The book is a big disappointment, but one of the things that irritates me most as I read has nothing to do with Mankell. It's the nasty habit this particular electronic version has of centering text on the page and leaving large spaces between paragraphs. In dialogue sections, each speech acts as its own paragraph. All are centered and spaced widely apart. And all short lines are centered.
Clearly that is a poorly formatted novel, and in this case, the formatting was done by one of the big publishing houses.
How common is poor formatting in your reading?
Good for you. Congrats! That was very interesting.
I have not had complaints from readers on the e-books put out by my publisher, so trust they're ok. The proofing process for Penguin and my other publishers was extremely detailed and carefuil, and I have always made sure the best possible copy went to print. The final proofing happens to the printed pages. There was generally little left to change by that time. My guess about the typos in trad-pubbed novels is that authors didn't follow through on the tedious checking process.
To my embarrassment, I have to admit that I got one complaint on the latest (self-pubbed) Akitada novel. The error/oversight was mine. It was a typo I didn't catch. My shortcoming is that I still revise when I'm proof-reading. That causes new typos to slip in. I wasn't allowed to do that on the final versions from the printer. I shall change my ways in the future.
As for formatting problems: yes, I've seen those from some formatters. I do not see them in any of the books that have been done by 52 Novels. Kudos to them.
It's just very hard to proof and proof and proof your own books and still stay alert for errors. That's why it's always good to get other people involved. At least, as the author, you have a passionate interest in getting everything right. That helps a lot.
I'm trying to contain expenses until I start making enough money to pay for copy-editing. However, I do have two readers who read for me before the final version.
Thanks, I.J. My fifteen minutes. :)
I'm with Penguin too, and after I found out about how common errors in e-books were, I bought a copy of my latest, and am happy to say it looked fine. I think with commercially produced e-versions, the problem comes in because authors never proof their e-versions, and depending on how they're produced (copyedited file, or original word file), no matter how meticulous the author is at the page proof stage, it might not matter.
I do think publishers were caught short on this issue, and like to think that in time, their process will catch up.
I'm relieved to hear the Penguin versions are ok. I will say I wasn't asked to proof them. Perhaps they were a tad embarrassed since my contractual share is 15 % of the 70 %.