…ever admit that there are errors in their book?
Books are written by human beings. They’re edited by other humans. And, as we all must admit, humans are flawed. We miss things. We make mistakes.
Always remember to proof read carefully to see if you any words out
I don’t write in what I can call “this is my first draft, this is my second draft, this is my third draft” stage since I constantly go back and re-read what I’ve worked on and tweak during each “draft”. So I may have read each line hundreds of times. That’s what also causes some problems — I may have tweaked a line by moving it to what I deemed a better spot and it creates a paradox. In its original position, he’s still dressed, but in the new position, he’s in bed and naked. Yet he puts his hands in his pockets. Or I’ve changed my mind about some detail, or just plain forgotten, so on page 3 he has green eyes while on page 93 he has blue. Ooops.
That’s just one reason why I rely upon my beta readers and critique partners — they see the things I’ve missed. I generally have at least two others read my manuscripts before I submit them to my editor. Once they’ve sent me back their suggestions I go through the manuscript again. (Usually I print it off — for some reason, seeing it on paper makes things I miss on the screen jump out at me.) And I still manage to miss things.
Once she’s offered a contract, my editor then goes through the manuscript and makes suggestions for plot changes as well as pointing out any errors. She then sends it back to me to make the changes. Once I’m done, she goes through it again and accepts my changes, then forwards it to a final line editor (who checks grammar, punctuation, and continuity, and repetitions, amongst other things. Some publishing houses also used to have special editors to check things like historical facts, but that was a few years ago and with all the cutbacks the industry has faced, I’m not sure if that is an option anymore.) The Final Line Editor sends the manuscript back to my editor who goes through the FLE’s notes and makes more notes to add to those, then sends it back to me to correct yet again. Once I’ve gone through and accepted the changes, deleted half the overused em-dashes and even more of the repetitive whens and thats, and made sure the eye color is consistent all the way through 😉 I send the corrected manuscript back to my editor who goes through it yet another time.
Then she sends it to the person who sets it up for the various formats for release. Once it’s properly formatted, they send it back to me yet again for the final proofread. By this point, I’m usually so sick of the manuscript it’s a chore to read it. (I’ve heard of authors who read the manuscript in reverse as it forces their eyes not to anticipate what they think is going to be said.) And yes, I still find things we’ve all missed. But ultimately, that final proofread is all on me.
Yet still errors manage to make it through the system.
But you can bet readers pick up on those errors.
I should also mention that some things that readers think are errors aren’t. Often times when I’m watching a movie, I’ll drag out my iPad and pull up the IMDB app — I love that site. I love the trivia section, but I also check out the error section. In that error section there’s a category called “Incorrectly Regarded as Goofs“. That happens in books too.
Is there anything wrong with this paragraph?
‘I am sorry we cannot be of more help,’ Anna said. ‘As you know, we have a stake in this — and no one wants another person dead. Perhaps if we knew more about the fae who took her or what exactly the killer was doing to his victims.’ She paused and said delicately, ‘Or is that “killers”?’
Patricia Briggs, Fair Game
Before I was published, I took a grammar class from a lady who teaches grammar at University of Toronto, and also worked as an editor for Harlequin. She told the story of how a book that had been edited using English grammar standards and had been successfully released in England was later released in the States. The powers that be at Harlequin decided that since it had been through editing already, they shouldn’t need to re-edit it. So it was published with the English grammar standards. So yes, words like colour and valour and honour all had the u that has been dropped by the Americans. But the punctuation was different too. Instead of dialogue being enclosed in double quotes, English dialogue uses single quotes. Just like the example above. According to her, Harlequin was then flooded with complaints about how terrible the editing was, offering to come work for them because their editors were obviously not fit to edit.
I should also mention that grammar rules are fluid. That most American authors and publishers use a book (and site) called The Chicago Manual of Style that sets out the guidelines for punctuation and other grammatical issues. And that CMoS, as it’s often shortened to, changes and updates every so often. So the rules I learned in high school and college, about comma placement have changed.
Which is correct?
I liked it too.
I liked it, too.
According to the way I was taught at school? The second version. According to the latest version of CMoS? The first. (According to my editor. And it makes me cringe every single time. Don’t even get me started about whether it should be “too” or “as well.”) And each publisher has their own particular “style sheet” that may be different from another publisher.
So what should a reader do? Should they email the author to say “Hey, did you know…?”
If it’s a self-pubbed book, I say yes, let the author know. I really appreciated it when I was told of a couple errors that had been missed in the original edition of Perfect Proposal. (And yes, I went through a very similar process as above before I published it — I sent it out to several other author friends of mine, and hired my Carina editor who also freelances. Yet errors still made it through.) The beauty of self-publishing meant I had the power to make the changes and upload the new version to the various vendors. So readers could download the newer version, and future buyers would never see those errors.
BUT, if it’s not a self-pubbed book, especially if it’s in print, there’s nothing an author can do about it once it’s “out there.”
If it’s really bothering the reader, they can contact the publisher and let them know. Maybe if they do a second print run they might fix it? (It’s doubtful.) E-publishers such as Samhain used to tell their readers that if they found an error in a book to let them know because they could correct it. I’m not sure what the policy is anymore now that most digital books are sold through third party vendors these days.
What about bigger issues? Should authors publicly acknowledge errors, as Diana Gabaldon did on her F.A.Q. page? (When her Outlander was being printed as Cross Stitch in England, her proofreader said it really should have been set in 1946, not 1945, to properly reflect the conditions in England and Scotland at the time. The English book was changed, but the American book couldn’t be.) Or should they ignore it, and move on?
As a reader, what effect do errors have on you? Do you contact the author? The publisher? Does it change your buying habits?