Assuming Your Readers are Stupid is Just Plain…STUPID!

Assuming Your Readers are Stupid is Just Plain…STUPID!

Oh, if I only had a nickel for all of the authors over the years who have told me they didn’t think their readers would mind a few typos in their books…

At BookLocker, we recently received a manuscript that was riddled with incorrect punctuation. The writing was good and the subject was very interesting. But, the author clearly wasn’t paying attention in school when they were learning punctuation.

When I see these types of ongoing errors in a manuscript, I know that the author is not capable of editing his or her own work. I always recommend they hire an experienced editor. Professional authors will do that. Unprofessional ones will not.

Case in point: The author of the manuscript I mentioned above responded with this –

“I believe most readers knowledge of punctuation is worse than my own.”

(Did you notice the punctuation error in his response?)

Rather than argue with him, I simply rejected his manuscript, and  explained that putting a book on the market with numerous errors will harm the author’s and publisher’s reputations.

Some authors offer up an idea that they think is entirely unique (it is not). They ask me to go ahead and publish their book, saying they’ll put a note in it, offering a contest of sorts for readers who tell the author where the errors appear in the book. One author wanted to insert a statement in her book that said, “Errors are intentional to make sure my readers are paying attention.”

I am still floored about that one.

Here are the facts:

  • Publishing a book with dozens or hundreds of errors makes an author look uneducated, and a publisher look like an author meat market.
  • Offering a find-the-typo contest in your OWN book is extremely unprofessional.
  • Publishing an apology in your book for errors appearing IN YOUR BOOK is insulting to readers.
  • Claiming the content in your book is valid and true, and that typos don’t take away from that (yes, I’ve seen that many times, too), is amateurish.
  • And, assuming your readers are stupid is just plain STUPID!

If you aren’t willing to put a book on the market with correct spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation, you shouldn’t be putting a book on the market at all.

Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of, the President and CEO of and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.

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6 Responses to "Assuming Your Readers are Stupid is Just Plain…STUPID!"

  1. Dawn Colclasure  February 7, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    Thank you so much for saying what A LOT of readers have been griping about for years! This is so true. I have seen books where words were actually crammed together and I had to wonder if it was the author’s intention or a mistake on the publisher’s part. It’s aggravating and I rarely finish reading such books. I expect a book to go through the rigors of editing and if it’s filled with mistakes and spelling errors, I usually won’t continue reading it.

  2. DONNA DEINES  January 30, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    It is hard to believe an author would make all those errors in a book or advertising to the public. But, myself, I do make mistakes in my books and advertising. A close friend pointed it out to me on a coffee break last year. I was not upset but I was pleased that a close friend would help a writer out for future writing. I installed stronger grammar in my WS, stronger security web, and hired other eyes to read my writing before I sent the manuscript to Booklockers. Yes, It cost a little bit more money but you do want your books to be sold or not. So, if you see an error on a poster or advertising, be nice about it.

  3. Werner  January 30, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    Hi Angela,

    With the resources available today, there’s little excuse for turning in a manuscript rife with errors. At a bare minimum, they can use the free version of ProWritingAid, or Grammarly to at least take care of spelling and punctuation errors. Anything less is laziness.

    I know a couple of successful indie authors. When they started out, they used those resources and recruited beta readers to get feedback on any story issues, and other errors.

    One of them approached other successful authors for editor recommendations. Then she purged her house of things she was no longer using and sold them on Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace, to pay for a reputable editor. In the end, it worked out well for her.

    This is what these bootstrap authors did because they took their writing career seriously right from the beginning. The interesting thing is they still do a lot of the same, but can now afford to use the services of a dedicated editor.

  4. Johnny Townsend  January 30, 2021 at 10:49 am

    I bought a book written by a friend of a friend, with an intriguing plotline, in a genre I enjoy. Three pages in I’d already noted DOZENS of errors.

    I realize it can be obnoxious to point out someone’s errors when they haven’t asked my opinion, so I don’t make a habit of it. But I do exchange critiques with writing buddies. They read drafts of my work and I read drafts of theirs.

    So I emailed the author and said I’d be willing to edit the book for free if he was willing to republish it. That offer was based on wanting to help my friend who’d recommended him.

    But the author emailed back and said he didn’t think anyone cared about punctuation. Thanks but no thanks.

    I was astounded that he’d pass on a service that could have cost him hundreds, when he so clearly needed all the help he could get.

    I didn’t finish the book and have made no effort to support his writing “career” since.

  5. Linda G  January 30, 2021 at 8:13 am

    Hi Angela,

    I was told that too in a store when I pointed out their error on a huge sign. We did it on purpose (I like purposely to say on porpoise).

    I called the manager of a dollar store and told her I’m a writer and saw her sign. It indicated they sell stationary.

    “And there’s a mistake on it,” she interrupted and said she paid $3000 for that sign.

    I told her that now she gets a freebie.

    • By Angela Hoy - Publisher of  January 30, 2021 at 9:51 am

      I had a neighbor that did handyman work. He had the name of his company on the doors of his truck and one word was misspelled. I pointed it out to him and he said he did it on purpose (which I doubted). I mentioned to him that having that one word misspelled (it was one of the services he offered) made it more difficult for people looking for that service to find him online.