Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Typos and Errors After Publication

I received an email question from a blog reader who had just finished reading one of her favorite authors and was dismayed by the “disastrous typos and spelling mistakes in the text, embarrassing things the author should have caught.” What she described to me were misspelled street names and store names, things anyone who is familiar with or a resident of that city would surely notice.

It reminded me of an experience I had while still an assistant editor at Berkley. Early one morning, I had just settled into my desk with a coffee and delicious Zaro’s bagel from Grand Central when my phone rang. It was an irate reader. She had just gotten off her train at Grand Central (imagine if we had been on the same train) and the entire experience was ruined for her because the book she was reading was riddled with typos and errors. She wasn’t able to finish the book, but had circled all the mistakes she had found and would be sending the book back to us. I received it the next day.

The mistakes she circled? Purposefully written that way by the author. It was the slang used by a 13-year-old character. All of the “mistakes” she circled were actually dialogue.

What was so interesting to me about this particular situation is that the reader was not at all upset with the author, but instead blamed the publisher for the mistakes made. Which brings me around to the first question by the blog reader. Who is ultimately responsible for typos or other errors in the book? Is it the author? Editor? Production? And what can a writer do when this happens?

Well, I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts on the matter, but I personally feel that it’s the author’s responsibility. While a good copyeditor should definitely check and double-check things like street names, it’s not a copyeditor’s job to make sure your facts are straight. The author, presumably, has done her best to turn in a manuscript that she feels is polished and ready to publish. The editor’s job is to make sure the book is strong, well written, and marketable. Through revisions it’s again the author’s job to make sure the manuscript is polished and ready to publish. It’s the copyeditor’s job to make sure the book is clean of typos, grammatical errors, and any plot inconsistencies, and, well, you know the author’s job by now.

While you certainly hope for a good strong editor and copyeditor who will do extra work to make sure every little detail is correct, you can’t always count on the fact that they’ll be the ones to “fix” things. That’s no one’s job other than the author’s. If you are one of the lucky few who end up with a terrific copyeditor, it’s always nice to send a note of thanks. They are a very talented and yet underappreciated bunch.

And yes, I am not forgetting that there are the rare times when an author’s corrections do not make it into the published book. In that case the author should definitely turn in a list of corrections to her editor. Hopefully they’ll make the fixes the next time they go to press.

Typos are inevitable, you just hope they aren’t embarrassingly noticeable.

Jessica

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

I coauthored a book with a physician for a small, specialty publisher. After the book went to print, we found so many errors that we refused to let the publisher release the book. There were spelling errors, grammar errors, and pictures in the wrong places.

To this day we aren't sure why this happened, but we believe our edits were never implemented. Unfortunately, we had to fight so they wouldn't release it, and eventually, we regained the copyrights.

Both of us felt it would have reflected poorly on us as authors and that no book was better than a book with poor sales.

Anonymous said...

I had four nonfiction books published by mainstream nonfiction publishers in the 80s and 90s.

Back then, it was the job of the copyeditor and proofreader(s) to find and eliminate typos and mistakes like inconsistencies in the text. Everyone expected them to. That was what they were paid for.

Proofreading is a skill that requires certain cognitive gifts, and many writers no matter how good they are with writing, aren't able to proof their own work.

Unfortunately, as part of cost cutting, publishers have moved copyediting off shore and now "type set" by feeding the author's Word file to a computer program.

I recently heard from an author whose copyeditor, located in India, was unable to cope with American idioms and did not appear to be able to spell. Saving money on those steps saves publishers money, but it is tough on the books.

If you only want books from people with excellent proofing skills, you're going to get some very anal manuscripts!

December/Stacia said...

Lots of typos bother me, but I admit at times I find the occasional one cute. It makes me feel connected to the author, in an odd way--they were really moving when they wrote this part, and each time they read/editied they were too, it's a great action sequence, etc.

Too many gets on the nerves, but one or two doesn't. What bugs me are continuity errors. I read a bestseller where the author couldn't remember, from chapter to chapter and page to page, how old the characters were, what they were wearing, what time of day it was...it drove me nuts.

Mark Terry said...

This came up at a library function I was part of and there were 6 of us authors on the panel. We all assured them that we writers try our very best to catch these, that the manuscript is read literally a dozen times by us, that we often have agents reading it, multiple editors reading it, and copyeditors, and despite all those eyes, sometimes errors slip through.

I've had my French translator and my Slovak translator catch minor errors recently. One was a character whose name is spelled two different ways. The Slovak translator also caught a continuity error.

It happens. I wish it didn't.

Solidus said...

OK, the editor's perspective. :-)

(I've been an editor for the past decade, but not in fiction. I've worked in academic and education but the principles ought (!) to be the same.)

The editor's job is to polish the manuscript so that it is the best that it can be. This definitely includes typos, spelling, grammar, structure, sense, style and so forth. However, outside certain specialist areas (academic in particular, where the author often has little say), the author is the ultimate authority on what the text should be.

So, if there are spelling errors or typos, they are the editor's fault - unless the author placed them there deliberately and insisted that they remain. If there are missing sections or duplicated pages, they are the editor's fault. However, factual errors are always the author's fault. The editor will do their best to check things, but we simply can't check every detail (like street names in foreign cities). Basically, almost anything that is wrong with a published book is the editor's fault. But, what the reader perceives as wrong might not actually be wrong - it might be what the author intended (as in your example). Or it might be one of those areas where the author made a mistake that the editor can't reasonably have caught.

The editor's job is a thankless one. No one ever notices when we do our jobs well, only when we make mistakes. If a book is clean and polished, they assume that the author is competent. If it's riddled with typos, they blame the editor.

Part of the problem is, as another commenter has mentioned, that many publishing houses started outsourcing their editorial departments years ago. Now, with costs being squeezed further, they're often eliminating editorial checks largely or completely. (I don't know whether this is happening in fiction yet to any extent, but it's extremely common in academic publishing, and common in some other non-fiction areas.) It's a Bad Thing. Editors do a valuable job. It's us who turn a good book into an outstanding book. We add the final spit-and-polish that reveals the true beauty of a book and makes it stand out.

Anyhow, enough of blowing my own trumpet!

Solidus

Anonymous said...

I've decided not to post my name with this one because I'd like to continue writing. :)

I had a book published by a major single title romance publisher in the late 1990s that had numerous "corrections" made by the editor that I never got to see until the book was in print. In addition to the gawd-awful writing, there were several typos.

Sometimes the mistakes are an author's fault. Other times, she is just as shocked and appalled as the reader.

Anonymous said...

I'm a good speller. I even have a fifth grade trophy to prove it. However, as a writer, I tend to get so close to the work, I can't see it anymore. The brain is a funny thing. It will "fix" things that aren't correct. That's why an editor takes a second look, a copy-editor a third, etc., etc. I depend on and expect these editors to catch the two or three typos that somehow manage to slip into my manuscripts. That is their job. As a reader, I've also been finding more and more of these mistakes. The author's job is already big enough. Help him/her out, for goodness sake!

April said...

I agree. The author is ultimately responsible. If you're Congress, you aren't going to create a law, write it down, and send it off to the President without making sure that there are no spelling errors, are you? no. Well, if you're a writer, part of your revising/editing before you give it to an agent/editor/publisher should be to make sure that there are no spelling errors! I am a horrible speller, and there are always mistakes. But I find them, and I'm not going to send it away before I check for them.

Kimber An said...

Is an invented word worth experiencing a bad mood for? I really don't think it would destroy democracy overnight.

Anonymous said...

I'm stunned by Solidus's assertion that almost anything wrong with the published book is the editor's fault. Wow. At a writer's conference I once attended, a panel of editors were aboard to answer questions, Someone posed this sort of thing to them -- Who is to blame if the book goes to press and certain sentences are just plain awkward or (not purposely) repetitive?

Without blinking an eye the editor replied she was not a "writer" and reading the work for those small details was the author's job.

I was left wondering, though, even if you're not a "writer" shouldn't the editor be astute enough to point out to the writer, gee, this sentence is awkward and needs to be re-worked?

In keeping with Soludis's post -- if this is an editor's job why are so many editor's willing to say it isn't?

Yikes. Maybe depends on which editor you have?

spyscribbler said...

Before I was writing, I blamed publishers, too. Now I can flog myself silly, LOL. And I pray to God someone has my back ... but I always see something.

Perfection in art is very difficult.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it is the author's responsibility to put together the best manuscript possible. However, the editor is there to catch the mistakes that slip in. It is supposed to be a team effort.

Angela James said...

The editor's job is a thankless one. No one ever notices when we do our jobs well, only when we make mistakes. If a book is clean and polished, they assume that the author is competent. If it's riddled with typos, they blame the editor. Truth.


I've said publicly that I'll take the blame for typos and errors in books I've edited. It's my job and the copy editor's job to find them. Sometimes readers send things they've found to us and I always forward it to the copyeditor. It's a reminder to both of us not to stop working hard. I have authors who will happily shift the blame to me and others who feel the buck stops with them. In the end, though, I feel responsible for the job I've done and since my eyes are on it last, I have ultimate responsibility. Not the copy editor or the author.

But. (has to be one, right?) I don't think that any book is perfect or error-free. I think you can have ten people look at a book and typos will still slip through. It just happens.

And like you, I often wonder how many "editing" errors remarked on in reviews and by readers are actually errors at all. Not only is there a lot of give for dialogue, but for author voice and, in addition, grammar and punctuation rules change. People think what they were taught 30 years ago is the way it still is and that's not always so. That's why the different style manuals (like CMoS) and so forth publish updates. If it never changed, they could just use the same manual they did 30 years ago!

I was left wondering, though, even if you're not a "writer" shouldn't the editor be astute enough to point out to the writer, gee, this sentence is awkward and needs to be re-worked?

In keeping with Soludis's post -- if this is an editor's job why are so many editor's willing to say it isn't?


"awkward phrasing" is one of my most often used editing comments :)

I think there is a variety of difference between how each editor edits. One editor might prefer to do few edits on the writing and concentrate only on content. Other editors might do both. It just depends on the editor.

Anonymous said...

It is (or should be) a collaborative effort. It isn't so much, anymore. It's a quicker, faster paced world in publishing. And it is true that sometimes wrong final drafts go into production. Once an author gets her galley's, there is NOTHING that can be changed at that point. NOTHING. Seriously. Your editor will tell you this. It cost a god awful amount of money to change anything, save small things, at this point in production. I had to nurse a friend back from the edge of insanity when she received her galley's and realized that somehow, some way in production, it was NOT her final edited version. Not just small things, we're talking big old smacking ugly things! Did her editor/copy editor say anything, like "hmmm. this isn't right?" no. They let it go.

Not all editors are like this. I have another friend who LOVES how detailed her editor is. When she first began writing for her, my friend would be in tears with the number of pages of copy edits. But now, that number is 1/4 of what it was. They have established a good working relationship. My friend and her editor are in sync with each other, she knows what her editor wants, and she's a great writer who can deliver.

I've been blessed that I too, have a wonderful editor. She won't let ugly stuff go by, if something in my plot wasn't working, or something needed to be added, she puts it into the notes sent back to me, for my last revisions. I incorporate those suggestions.

However, I wrote a book for a smaller press once. I too, was really upset when I realized my final version was not the one I sent in. My readers didn't notice, and I've sold really well with that book. However, what that taught me is that it is my responsibility to turn in the cleanest book I have. With my smaller press book, my print run was only 8,000 books. With my large, NY house I now write for, my initial print runs are three times that, and I with that, my books have more exposure. I definitely don't want books riddled with errors, grammar, text, plot issues, or whatever, out there!

Solidus said...

Part of the problem is the different meanings of the title "editor".

I suspect, when the panel editors mentioned above disclaimed all responsibility, that you were hearing "commissioning editors". These are the folks who decide which projects to buy (subject to management approval) and thereafter pretty much wash their hands of the details. They're "big picture" people, business-focused, building up the best lists that they can. They'll want to approve cover designs and back cover copy, to check that the budget works, to ensure that the marketing is suitable.

I am talking more about the folks often known as "desk editors". We're the people responsible for turning a submitted manuscript into a polished, published book. We ensure that an experienced eye is cast over the manuscript before it's returned to the author for revision. We ensure that the revised version gets copyedited (or do it ourselves). We ensure that the designer is briefed, and the designs checked and sent for approval. We make sure that the proofs that come back from the typesetter are as specified, and that they are checked properly and repeatedly. We make sure that the files sent to the printer exactly match the final set of proofs we approved. And we make sure that the covers are accurate as well as pretty.

The editor who commissioned the book may play some role in project managing this, but they won't generally be getting their hands dirty. Depending on the publishing company, the various tasks (revision, copyediting, liaising with the author, design, proofreading etc.) get divided up differently. Some tasks will be freelanced or outsourced. But, in an ideal world, the desk editor will be ensuring that every task is performed to standard, including copyediting, typesetting and proofreading. Then, the marketing department have the best possible product on their hands to sell.

If you deal with a publishing house that outsources or freelances all of the production process, you as a writer need to take a much closer interest in that production process. With the best will in the world, when all the jobs are done by someone else, things fall between the cracks. And often the project management is in the hands of non-editors who simply don't have the background or training to check things themselves. And although many freelancers are excellent (I was one for several years), some aren't. Some in-house editors aren't very good, either, of course.

Basically, as a writer, you should do everything you can to make sure that the end result is as good as it can be. Copyediting and proofreading are hard skills to learn, especially when working on something you wrote. But they're enormously valuable, too. If you find yourself in the hands of an inexperienced editor (whatever stage of the process - revision, copy, proofs), take the time to make sure you're happy with the result. After all, the book will reflect on you, whether it's good or bad, whether it's your fault or not.

But, when I read a poorly produced book, I blame the editor. When I read a bad story, I blame the commissioning editor and the author. :-)

Solidus

Anonymous said...

"But, when I read a poorly produced book, I blame the editor. When I read a bad story, I blame the commissioning editor and the author."

This is the only part I want to give my two cents. When I read a bad story (all subjective, btw, lol) I blame the editor. I don't blame the author. Every author thinks his/her work is gold. An editor's job, an acquisition editor, is to buy good books. But, in the end, it's all subjective, really ;)

Travis Erwin said...

I pretty much agree with you Jessica, but in truth a small error here and there doesn't bother me all that much.

Unless you are talking about plot holes and characters that suddenly do something entirely out of character without proper motivation to do so. I recently quit on a book that did that very thing.

The very first short story I ever had published had a error in it. The first time I read it I got mad. Someone had used the word break when I had meant brake.

Then I opened up my original file just to look and sure enough the idiot that screwed it up was me. I had read that story a hundred times or more, my crit group had seen it, several editors had seen it. And then the first time I read it in print I caught it. Who knows why, but I understand those things are going to happen.

Anonymous said...

What anonymous 7:23 said about proofreading... I've been told by my editors that I write very, very clean. Rarely do they find a typo. But I know it's not this way for all authors, and, even reading my own stuff, I'm constantly surprised to find a missing word or typo that occurred in the lastest revision. I've critiqued for friends who literally can't see the missing words or typos on their pages. They are too close to the story, and they see what they intended to write, not what is actually there.

I thought copy-editing was the responsibility of the publishing house. Yes, the author looks at the galleys, but I've also known authors with major houses to hand in corrections that occurred at the copy-editing stage, and then those corrections never make it to the finished book, and the author is appalled to get her author copies and discover typos that she HAD corrected.

I do think it's the author's responsibility to turn in the cleanest work she can, but when you've read over a passage 20 or 30 times, your eye skips over the problems. That's why we need astute copyeditors.

amy m said...

I don't really get hyper about typos. Maybe it's because I come from the publishing world (not books) and know that somehow, no matter how many people look at it, typos will slip in. I've had two experiences lately in books where typos/factual errors were obvious to me: one when a sports team was garbled and I could tell it was a typo, and another where a writer was discussing a specific chain of restaurants and it was obvious she had never been in one.

J. Brisbin said...

Anyone manipulating their text on a computer (and we all have to at some point, even those of us who write longhand and with a typewriter) has no excuse for letting typos "slip through" (unless you override the computer and tell it to learn a word that is actually misspelled...I've done this on accident at times.) That won't fix wrong uses of a word (heard instead of herd), but it will fix stuff like haerd.

That said, I will often ignore minor errors here and there if the rest of the writing (and the characters) are compelling enough.

The Anti-Wife said...

The factual errors are more irritating to me. I live in Seattle and for some reason many authors (and TV shows) base their stories here. We have traffic problems and are surrounded by water. We also have well known landmarks that haven’t moved since they were constructed. However authors have people who live on the peninsula leaving home and arriving in Seattle in 15 minutes. That’s only possible with a helicopter. They have them living on Queen Anne and driving across one of the Lake Washington bridges to arrive at a job or appointment near the Space Needle. The Space Needle is at the bottom of Queen Anne hill. It’s about a 5 minute drive – no bridges required. It’s obvious the author doesn’t know the city.

If they want to write about a specific, well known place, they should thoroughly research it – perhaps even travel there. I’ve traveled a lot and have stopped reading books because they were so inaccurate. If they don’t want to do the research it would be better to just make up a city.

Liz said...

I also just finished a new book by a well-known author and found it riddled with typos, even the main character's name misspelled in the first 30 pages.

It completely distracted me from the writing and storyline and frustrated me because I have heard when trying to find an agent, they will toss your submitted manuscript if it has typos.

Laura Kramarsky said...

I've noticed some completely incorrect, yet obviously intentional (on the part of the copy editor, I assume, since it would have been changed otherwise) grammar in books lately. The first--a pet peeve--is the incorrect use of "ago"/"yesterday/tomorrow."

The other one, which I've only seen a couple times, and only in books published very recently, is the use of "may," where "might" would be correct.

Both of these, which I've seen in easily a half dozen books in as many months, are clearly editorial choices. As such, do you have any hope of getting them changed?

I guess this is really a question about the power a writer has over his/her own writing once it goes to a publisher.

(My last magazine article contract said something along the lines of "the publisher reserves the right to edit the article for language, content and length." In other words, they can put out just about anything they want and attach your name. And, as a matter of fact, they did. I still receive letters from people who can't make the technique I wrote about work because the magazine changed some essential information. Obviously a book is different, but I do wonder whether the authors of the books in question screamed and pulled out hair to see incorrect usage substituted for their own--if, indeed, it was.)

Anonymous said...

Okay, so here is a question for the commentators--

Shouldn't the term editor (as in the person that reads, buys and is in charge of your book at the publishing house) be expected to do both small edits (awkward sentences, misspellings) and large edits (plot issues, character arcs)?

Because the editor on the panel I was referring to --from Anon post 9:45 -- was in fact an editor, as in not an overseer of the editing department, but a real live, in the trenches editor. And the rest of the editors on the panel didn't disagree at all with her "I'm not a writer" statement.

It just put me off, since, it is supposed to be a collaboration, and how is one supposed to colloborate with someone that can do large edits, but not small ones?
Wouldn't that be like a writer that said, Sorry, I can only write dialogue -- description and action scenes aren't my forte.

Zany Mom said...

I'm anal retentive about spelling, grammar and punctuation. That said, I'm sure there are a few errors in my work. I'd hope an editor or proofreader would catch them, as they are not as close to the work as I am.

That said, I've heard stories of authors who get their galleys and are horrified at the mistakes that are NOT THEIRS.

So while I think that yes, authors need to make sure their work is as free from errors as possible, I also think that editors and proofreaders should catch those that slip through.

And if the typsetters make mistakes, then what??

Solidus said...

One thing to remember is that you can't generalise about what an "editor" does. And you can't say that an editor "ought" to nitpick your grammar. That may simply not be their job - it depends on the commercial reality at that company. And, not least, the ability to do detailed edits and to do large-scale plot crits are quite different skill sets. Don't expect everyone you come across to have both.

And, Zany Mom - typesetters will make mistakes. That's why we do proofreading!
However, there should certainly be someone in the process whose job is to check those details, and they should be competent. Unfortunately, there's been a tendency in recent years (quite a lot of years, actually) to devalue the copyeditor's role. Believe it or not, there are people working as copyeditors who don't find it interesting to discuss the comma for ten minutes with a colleague. Or who don't ponder the etymology of words over coffee.

If it was a desk editor who disclaimed responsibility, I'm disappointed. It might reflect the pressures on them in their corporate environment, I guess - they might not have the time to do a proper job themselves on every project, and so rely on authors to pick up errors. However, that is a Bad Thing in my opinion, whatever the cause.

Kate H said...

I'm one of those underappreciated copyeditors. It's the author's responsibility, but so many these days just don't have the basic language skills. And it seems from my reading as if a lot of copyeditors don't either. I've seen errors that I would be willing to bet were introduced by the copyeditor because the author's writing was otherwise so clean. In particular right now, there's a rampant misunderstanding of when to use "whom." Authors need to perfect their language skills so they can catch their editors' errors as well as vice versa!

Jean said...

I don't notice minor typos, but I know other readers do. Last month, I received a very nice fan letter last in which the reader told me how much she enjoyed and followed up with a list of five or so typos she'd found with page references. She also suggested that for my next book I "hire" a better proofreader.

Anonymous said...

What a great topic. I'm an advertising copywriter and of course it's my responsibility to catch typos/errors. But I also count on the proofreader and the client to "watch my back," especially if it's a 40-page website. The buck stops with all of us.So I'm not so sure that the author or the editor or the copyeditor can be "ultimately responsible" when so many people are involved in the process. Hey, why not share the blame?

QUESTION: How does the typesetting part of the process work? I read somewhere that it's not digital, that someone actually keys in the entire ms. Surely, I misunderstood!

Ello said...

My first time delurking here! I had to put my two cents in. I don't think anyone can actually provide a 100% perfect product, although we should try our hardest. But small errors happen and mea culpas from the author are all that are needed. Honestly, it is ultimately the authors fault, but unless there are numerous and disastrous errors, a few minor errors should not be held against anyone. Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

The publisher provides the typesetter with a disk, with the manuscript on it. This disk comes from the author, and it also has all the edited changes in it. From that, they take the typed pages and implement the changes.

Solidus said...

What does a typesetter do?

In the old days (up to about ten years ago in many places), the typesetter received a marked up hard copy (i.e. on paper) of the author's manuscript from the copyeditor. The typesetter then keyed the text in to their software (or, even longer ago, set it as hot metal - placing each letter by hand into sequence). After initial setting, the editor received 'galley proofs', which are single comun pages set to the same width as the final book/magazine column. These were carefully checked for errors (and there's a difference between the typsetter's errors and errors in the original - basically they charge more for the latter!) and the approved text was finally placed into the design for the product.

These days, the editor will send the typsetter an electronic file containing the copyedited text. The typesetter will run this into Quark or InDesign (the main pieces of software used for page layout) and produce page proofs. The galley stage no longer exists in most cases - we go straight to the real book/magazine page. These proofs are checked, and then the typsetter produces 'print files', which means Postscript or PDF ready to send directly to the printer.

Basically, the typesetter takes the corrected text and makes it look like a finished book, ready to go to the printer. It's a highly skilled job when done properly; working with an unskilled typesetter is like pulling teeth! Unfortunately, the move towards full electronic workflow has also devalued the typesetter's skills as it has the editor's. There are a lot of designers who are trying to be typsetters (because you can do page design in InDesign, they try to do the typesetting, too), but they simply don't have the detailed perspective or knowledge needed. Conversely, there are also a lot of dumb word shops that just plonk a Word file into InDesign with no real awareness of the issues involved, but are cheap and quick.

Value your typesetter if they're good. They'll make your book shine off the page and look truly professional.

Solidus said...

Sorry - galley proofs are of course 'single column pages'! Fingers wandering...

Ciar Cullen said...

Wow, I'm in the minority here. I respectfully disagree. I was in publishing (nonfiction) for many years, and if a book was published with loads of typos, I went after the editor(s) and proofreader. It's their job. That's what proofreaders do.

Anonymous said...

Tess Gerritsen just blogged about a boo-boo in the printing of the paperback edition of THE MEPHISTO CLUB. Three chapters were missing--and replaced with chapters from a novel by Peri O'Shaughnessy!

L.L. Bartlett said...

I'm currently going through copyedits for books with two different publishers. I believe both are working with the Chiacago Book of Style, but the contriditions between the two are driving me crazy. One wants Web site two words (with the Web capped), the other wants it one word all lowercase. This is just one example.

As I expect to work with both houses again on future projects, I'm making up my own stylesheets for each house. Next time out, I hope to deliver the manuscript they expect--and see a lot less blue (hard copy) or red (electronic copy) color on my ms. pages.

Anonymous said...

Lots of good comments here!

I believe it's the copy editor's and the proofreader's jobs to find the bulk of the mistakes, but I understand that the more eyes on a project, the less likely they'll be mistakes.

With my latest book, I had to edit the copy editor, correct the proofreader, and I found syntax problems the editor (and copy editor and I) had missed. I fixed everything I could but I won't read the finished book because I don't want to know what was missed.

And after going through that book about 25 times, I got darned tired of it. I don't read my finished books. Once they leave my desk and go into printing, I'm done. There comes a point where you are so bleary eyed that there is nothing else you can do or see.

Kate Douglas said...

First of all, I don't know many authors who can actually find all their own typographical mistakes, myself included, which is why I have a minimum of three (and usually more) "beta" readers go over my manuscripts before submitting them to my editor. On that note, I have to say I hate reading a book with typos. They stop me in my tracks. I recently read a bestselling series and there were major typos--including at least one misspelled word--consisting of missing "small" words: to, and, of, the-- the kinds of words the eye so easily skips, in every one of the books. Yes, I will read more in the series because the stories are so good, but I was disappointed in the number of errors which affected what would have been a perfect reading experience.

Michael S. Hugh said...

They typos I have seen in bestselers weren't in dialgue or idiomatic. However, they did not take away from the pleasure of reading in most cases.

What bothers me even more is the lack of good research or inaccurate information that permeate sooooo many books.

I am not taking about opinions that are subject to interpretation, but actual factual booboos that shock me.

I've recently reread a 2005 bestseller that had hers of DEER traversing the Alsakan country side. Last time I checked there's only two paces for deer in Alaska - one on an island and a zoo.

Yest this author kept going on about the deer.

It's usually these research items that cause me to stop (and the author didn't include any notes saying that the deer had been fictionalized into the story) that drive me crazy with most new books I read.

Michael

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those underappreciated copyeditors. It's the author's responsibility, but so many these days just don't have the basic language skills. And it seems from my reading as if a lot of copyeditors don't either.

Now this is worth noting--and frightening as well. If a writer's job is to tell a good story, you'd assume they have a basic grasp of grammar as well. We hear, with almost mantric repetition, from agents and editors in blogs and at conferences about the necessity of writing a clean, stellar manuscript. Yet, here we have a professional copyeditor making the observation that writers who are likely agented, have sold a title and are going through the protocol to get that title published don't have a grasp of English Comp. 101.

I can certainly see where the blame might be placed on the author in this case, but I have to wonder why such titles were represented and sold in the first place? Seems to me the blame can be equally parceled out amongst the "team."

Anonymous said...

I find much humor in the posts in this blog. The criteria for placing comments of any value are superior grammatical and spelling skills. It is laughable to see the number of errors from those claiming, yet lacking, competency to hold a position to make any comment at all.

Mark Terry said...

...there were 6 of us authors on the panel... (3th grade comp.)

Michael S. Hugh said...
They typos

Soldus said...
It's us who turn a good book into an outstanding book. (It is "we" who..)