Monday, July 4, 2016

The Dreaded Typo Critters

This is a tough subject because it's my absolute pet peeve and it's a real true part of this biz - typos - the elephant in the book release room. Seems authors don't talk about it much online, and bless the hearts of readers, they don't mention it much to authors. But today, I just felt like writing about it. So here we go . . .


As an author with dozens of titles, I know it's extra frustrating for writers to go through the very necessary, arduous process of ensuring that books are error-free, when in fact some books end up with typos. The errors might be the word you vs. your, morning vs. mourning, text vs. test, or perhaps switching character names or missing words altogether, or even our choice of knowing when to use the word fiancé or fiancée, or worse.

Typos are those sneaky, tricky little suckers that aren't there one minute, and then they appear out of thin air the next minute, almost sticking their tongues out at us like na-na-na-na-nana! (did I spell that right?)

The typo critters always hide from the author's eyes. After all, we created the sentences, so what we see is nothing like what's really there because when reading it back, we already know what it says. And the critters can even manage to hide from the fresh eyes of the proofreader, and not just proofreader number one, but proofreaders number two, three and four. Most of us always hire more than one extra set of eyes, paying good money for such expertise, when at times we want to yank our writer fingertips out when we read a random page before or even after publication, knowing it's all crisp and clean, and then we scroll through weeks later, and bam, there they are, having hidden like sneaky little rickety word roaches in the night.

The bottom line is, no matter how proofed our stories might be, having been checked by beta-readers, production departments, or professional proofreaders, it can happen, though not always, however, the buck stops with us. Our name is on the book. We wrote it and it's our responsibility. Even when the title is published via mainstream, there can be a few errors. The reader is not going to check to see who the publisher is and blame them. Some indie publishers who vowed to have error free, quality works, have quickly found that the word roaches paid them a visit, too. All we can do is correct it and vow to do better. It's not on purpose.

The bottom line is, we really owe the readers a clean copy. They spend their hard earned money and they deserve better. They themselves can tend to miss errors because they're so caught up in the story (if it's good), but if we as authors know the typo is there, it hurts. No one's perfect, we're human, however, when and if it's distracting to the reader, in my opinion, even if we gave them 99,990 good words, those messed up 10 words can be just enough to turn a 5 star review into a 4 star, or enough for the reader to tell a friend or book club member or two, and so on, and so on,

My dear top authors, mid-list authors, new authors - how do we do our best to ensure that our books are error free? Please share your tips/opinions. And readers, we'd like your opinions as well. Let's talk about that big old elephant in the book release room! Because, sometimes, it really is there.




12 comments:

Liane Spicer said...

"...sneaky little rickety word roaches in the night..."
ROFL!!!

Marissa, I swear they really do crawl out in the dead of night just to freak us out. My agent said the manuscript I submitted for my first novel was perfectly error free--which it should have been because I'd scrubbed that baby so many times my fingers fell off. The book was released and another Novel Spaces author pointed out error #1. I could not believe my eyes. Then I found error #2 myself: a harmless little word spelled perfectly right but typed out twice. Roaches!

Linda Thorne said...

I have an author friend here in Nashville who proofreads her final book backwards. She starts at the last page and goes until she's at the first. She swears by this because starting at the beginning means getting caught up in the writing and missing the error like she did the first time. In my book, published last year, I had some typos and a big error in meaning (dawn instead of dusk), but because I didn't need a major overhaul, my publisher recently let me correct my typos. Many publishers will not do that. I notice typos even in bestsellers. Even after correcting the errors in my book with misused words like sell instead of sale, disserve instead of deserve, I suspect I still missed a couple.

Charles Gramlich said...

I go through great pains to avoid them but some will inevitably creep in. My biggest mistake is often leaving out some little word like 'to' or 'so' in a sentence.

Neil Waring said...

Difficult to find all of the typos. I use two different, grammar/spelling programs before painstakingly going through it myself. I have an excellent first reader that marks as she goes, and another, that reminds me of the difference between women and woman. In one of my novels I used the plural, women, in several places where I meant woman, never noticed it myself, but am sure 100% of my readers would have.

Robin Pendleton said...

Marissa,
Even before I became a freelance editor, I was an avid reader and wordsmith. Years ago it seemed that you could tell the difference in the quality of a book as it related to the quantity and type of errors based on how it was published; mainstream or independent. Now, I cringe when I read several typos and simply the wrong words in books by authors who are great storytellers, but whose publishers have relegated copyediting and proofreading to very inexperienced and/or unskilled employees. Unfortunately, this is a reflection of America in general as we embrace a microwave mentality in generating books. True publishers (not printing companies) need to restore integrity to their editing divisions as they are doing a disservice to authors who can tell and sell a story, but lack the skills to capture mistakes in their own work.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Yes it is painstaking. And you can't depend on spell check and grammar check to find the mistakes. Worst yet, some autocorrect programs insert the words you didn't intend to type.

I go through the paper copies of the galleys and try to read every word. I read it over several times. Then I go through the proof with a fine tooth comb and ask other people to go through it too. I haven't found a roach that has shown up in any of my published stories as yet. I don't know if other readers have found the roaches. But I hope to give the readers as perfect a copy as I could.

Marissa Monteilh said...

Liane, I've had those "I can't believe my eyes," moments, and as you said, a word typed twice, and we go, "What the what?" lol - yes, pesky little roaches are frustrating!

Marissa Monteilh said...

Linda, I have been told that reading backwards is the best way so as not to get caught up in the story so I have decided to hire those w/experience doing that. Thx! I'm glad your publisher let you make the changes. Thanks for your comment!

Marissa Monteilh said...

Hi Charles, those little ones are just as annoying, I know. :)

Marissa Monteilh said...

Neil, I'm interested in finding out which programs you use. I'm sure you cherish that first reader who catches things. Thanks for your post!

Marissa Monteilh said...

Robin, you are so correct - so many have cut back and more and more authors are self-pubbing. Editing is such a major part of the process, and can be the most challenging, even than story sometimes. Thx!!

Marissa Monteilh said...

Jewel, yes, auto-correct and confuse things, and even when I send changes to production, it can be that the person who made the change deleted something or adding something that was not part of the change. More eyes, more eyes, whew!! I hope to offer roach-free books as well, lol - your thoughts are appreciated!