Romance novels suffer from the worst, most sloppy (possibly non-existent) copy editing I’ve ever encountered. This was rammed home during the weekend when I was reading White Tigress by Jade Lee. The hero’s father’s name is Sheng Fu, yet it switches back and forth between Sheng Fu and Cheng Fu with dizzying frequency in the middle of the book. The family name also briefly changes from Cheng to Chang. And in one spot, something which clearly took place during the night time is referred to as having happened during the day in the next chapter.
This isn’t the only romance novel with this sort of problem. I bitched long and hard about the huge honkin’ continuity mistake in Sally MacKenzie’s The Naked Duke. The villain’s eye color switches from tawny to blue in Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible. In Taboo by Kathleen Lawless, the hero and heroine allegedly spend a week together but the book clearly covers only four days, with no “And then three days went by in delirious humpalicious bliss” to account for the disparity. And I’ve seen the words “feisty” and “chaise longue” mis-spelled more often than I can count.
These problems aren’t entirely the fault of the author. I can dig that proof-reading tens of thousands of words isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do, especially when you don’t have the requisite distance from the work to look at it with fresh eyes and you have to make extensive edits that require shifting the timeline around. Hell, I have trouble proofreading these 500-1500 word articles I bang out; I catch typos from old entries all the time. But that’s why authors have editors, no? Editors—copy editors, in particular—are supposed to catch problems like these. If a casual reader like me notices these issues, why the fuck aren’t the people who are actually being paid to pay attention to nitty-gritty details?
Sloppy editing only feeds the accusations that romance novels are sub-standard, and really, when routine words are mangled, character attributes change magically from page to page and the timing for events doesn’t obey time’s arrow, it’s hard to argue that romance novels are just as good and just as professionally-written as other varities of genre fiction. The publishers need to make the horror stop. Can’t these publishing houses afford to hire a team of decent copy editors? Leisure and Zebra seem to be the worst culprits when it comes to mind-boggling sloppiness in editing, but other companies certainly aren’t exempt.
There. My first blog entry after my mini-vacation, and it’s all pissy. Did y’all miss me?