Righting historical wrongs, one Regency at a time.

Advice needed

Reading crappy books on purpose is hard work, you guys, and I say this as an attorney who has read a lot of dull things and written even more dull things, because there’s only so much drama you can put into a response to a motion to compel discovery. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Specifically, I’m struggling with whether I should review a self-published book, even though it has lots of good stepping off points (read: gross historical inaccuracies) because it’s kind of like drowning kittens.  Also, what about dead authors? It just feels mean. Although I suppose I don’t have to worry about their feelings.

Any thoughts?

7 Responses to “Advice needed”

  1. ashuality

    Self publishing means someone wanted their work to be read. Judging them on their typos or anything else that an editor would resolve might be a tad harsh, but judging their lack of research is fair game. Also, if you pay for the book they should be happy for the sale.

    • Queen of Hats

      That’s a good point. Also, given that the last book I edited had hundreds of mistakes introduced by the line editor (after it was nigh near perfect, because the author was already great and I had very little to fix), I’m now more forgiving of typos!

  2. Nancy

    It seems abit pointless to criticize an author for errors in books written before the advent of Wikipedia and such sites. the trouble wouldn’t be finding errors in books, it would be to find books without errors,
    I learned they were full of errors the hard way.
    Some say that they are appalled anyone would read books to find errors. . .
    I think any book — no matter how published– sent out to the public in the last ten years is fair game to be reviewed.
    However, extreme care must be taken that one is correct and doesn’t fall into error one’sself.

    • Queen of Hats

      Sorry, Nancy, for the delay on this comment — it was in the spam queue.

      I’ll politely disagree with you about Wikipedia. Reference books, available via ILL for people without access to a university library, have been around. Even if someone stuck with Heyer’s references and a World Book encyclopedia, they would probably be OK.

      What I do find unforgivable are historical errors in books put out by major Regency imprints. Their editors should know better.

  3. Elizabeth

    I’d probably start with someone who really should have known (or researched) better – an author with several books out already, published by a press big enough to hire a fact-checker but that’s only a preference.

    I agree with ashuality above: if someone’s published a book, it’s there to be read & commented on so I think self-pubs & dead authors are fair game, too.

    • Queen of Hats

      The one I read last night — where the American Revolution and War of 1812 were conflated and it is actually said that Brighton Pavilion was the reason Britain lost her “American Colonies” (to nitpick, they still had Canada)…was a Signet. #headdesk I spent a fair amount of time reading contemplating the ethics of demanding a refund of a book I was going to review (I won’t.) But it was that bad.

      I think I’ll be gentler with the self-pubs, because frankly, I admire the moxie to self-publish and the moxie to promote. So good for them. Still, historical crimes are historical crimes.

  4. Jane Roth

    I agree with Elizabeth. Save the self-published boo-boo laden novel for later, and give us fair warning so we can read it, too, and snark along with you. For now, why not take on a somewhat current publication that ignores the actual state of the world at the time?

    One of my pet peeves is when authors treat horses as if they were automobiles, completely ignoring how far they can go at what speed and for how long. Several times when reading I have checked websites on reasonable endurance for a pair of horses or a team or a horse with a rider. In one instance I checked with a friend who is a horsewoman and asked what would happen if the horse were ridden as portrayed. She replied, “You would have a dead horse.”

    As for dead authors, when were they put off-limits? Open season!


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