Don't undermine your message by disregarding the small things

Over the weekend I was reading an extract from a new independently published book by two photographers. The subject of the book is largely irrelevant to the point I want to make, however I do want to discuss its extent. The finished book is a tome: over 400 pages covering everything from the philosophy of the authors' approach to highly detailed discussion of their techniques.

It is obvious that this book has been a labour of love and that an immense amount of work has been involved in pulling it together.

However, the book falls down in one critical area. Despite all the time and effort invested in its creation, it is clear that the authors have not had their book edited nor the final layout proofread. As such, they have undermined their whole project and, more importantly, undermined their expertise.

Without editing, the writing has been left laboured in parts and convoluted in others. A good editor would have challenged the authors to be really clear about what they wanted to say and would have offered suggestions for improving the clarity of their prose.

It's not fatal, but it could have been so much better.

Much worse in this case was the failure to have the finished book proofread. On almost every page there are small but significant typographical errors. Upper-case words where there should be lower case, and vice-versa. Missing punctuation and misplaced line breaks. It just reeks of amateurishness.

Sure, there will be many people who won't notice any of these things. But for those of us who do, once we've seen the first three or four errors we are lost. We are no longer reading the book – we are anticipating the next flaw.

The sad irony here is that the photography that these people do involves an enormous amount of finesse and detail in both the picture taking and the post-production. They clearly understand the importance of the small things in their work, but they haven't applied the same to their book.

The primary purpose of documenting your story for others, whether in a blog post or a book, is to present yourself as an authority. That's what 'author' means. Don't diminish your work or your reputation by leaving it half-baked.

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please add a comment below or contact me.

Banner image by Glen Currie via

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