Copy. Paste. One quick click. Voilà! An error-free book.
Does that sound too good to be true? Well, it is.
I decided to use the free trial for Grammarly, the world’s best automated proofreader. I’m sad to say that thousands of people are paying twenty-five dollars for a waste of time. [Disclaimer: It's fine to use this to learn a thing or two about grammar; but I don't recommend it in place of an editor.]
(I’ll try not to be too brutal, I promise.)
All a writer has to do is paste his prose into the blank box, click “Check your text,” and wait for it to finish loading. Once this phenomenal online proofreader reviews his text, he will have a long list of errors to read and review.
I copied the first chapter of my novel into the blank box. I slipped in some errors as well. The generator told me I had thirteen critical errors. Critical, people. Critical!
The automated proofreader went through each error with me. If I categorized my chapter under “General,” it told me I had thirteen errors. If I switched it over to “Creative,” it dropped down to four. Either way, it still missed every single error I had sneaked into it. The main problem, however, was pointing out errors that were not errors.
Did I use the pronoun him incorrectly here? No, I did not. So why is this thing bothering me with useless information? This exact box popped up somewhere around five times. A real editor doesn’t have to waste her time with this. If she sees any signs of pronoun-antecedent disagreement, she corrects it and moves on. Nope, not this bad boy. He wants to talk to you about the critical error that almost happened. Also, did you notice that this thing does not believe in the Oxford comma? That should've been my first clue.
I noticed that it would call me out on fragments in dialogue. It’s dialogue! We speak in fragments. A real editor knows what dialogue looks like. This automated proofreader does not.
I thought it was interesting that it caught the passive voice. Writers should always try to avoid the passive voice; however, real editors know that it is not always possible.
The blue lettering in the picture below depicts each missed error. I threw Popsicle in there to throw it off. It worked. Popsicle is capitalized. I also put it through the generator as lowercased; it did not pick it up then either. The question mark is outside of the quotation marks, which is a big no-no, unless you're in the UK, which I'm not. It had missed that. What about the word then? Oh, oops. It looks like the automated proofreader doesn’t know the difference between than and then. The word realised here is spelled with an s instead of a z. That is British spelling and should be avoided. And, finally, it missed the number at the end. Nine should be spelled out.
In conclusion, the world’s best automated proofreader catches all of the nonexistent errors and completely misses the important ones.
Now the defining moment: Would you rather spend $25 a month on a C+ service that wastes your time, or would you rather pay a real editor and see an A+ book on Amazon?
Note: Anything that helps people learn grammar is important. I'm not against that. I'm against using a service like this in place of an editor for your book. That's a problem.
An expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. A lifelong lover of books, she has edited over 300 books and has launched several Amazon bestsellers for her clients. Her award-winning blog teaches new and established authors how to write, publish, and market their books. She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist, The Rotting (in Shivers in the Night), and her novel-in-progress, The Suicide Tree. She lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday.