We can all be grateful that we live in a time of t’internet. Years ago, every writer would have to rely on their own experience, their own people, and the local library (with fingers crossed that no one had already checked out the books they needed), to get their facts right.
Now, all of us can learn anything at all with an ethernet cable and a bit of searching. I suspect that there are people who think a self-published novel involves less work and commitment, and is less sophisticated than a traditionally published novel.
This could not be less true.
Because the freedoms of the internet have risen along with self-publishing platforms, readers can expect a certain level of quality from their reading matter. Quite high up the list of things readers should be confident to expect is: historical and literary accuracy.
You might tell yourself that, since you’re writing sci-fi, or perhaps high fantasy, that you don’t need to consider real life. This is true. However, if you’re going to thank a favourite author, in your acknowledgements, for inspiring you, do us all a favour and remember P.T. Barnum.
- “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right,” P.T.Barnum, 1800s
If you’re going to mention real people in your work – please, please double-check your details. There’s a damn good chance someone like me is reading, and if that’s the case, please note: if I do, other people will probably notice if you misattribute a quote or spell someone’s name wrong.
They’re small details and, lord knows, everyone’s got something else going on, but they really rankle when, as an unsuspecting reader, I catch myself doing a Trump-style eyeroll. It’s not so bad when it’s a paperback mistake, but when I’m reading on my phone, I can see my reflection and I have no business looking like that.