Friday, January 29, 2016

Writing: Errors In A Book

Manuscripts sent to an editor are supposed to be as ready for publication as a writer can make them. But after that, they go through several edits: macro edit, line edit, galleys. When I get a galley proof to work on, the letter generally says that a copy editor is also checking the material for misspellings and other errors. But, despite this, spelling errors can get through. And I've finally decided that, since humans are involved, that's always going to be the case.

When I first started writing, I figured that a published book was as perfect as it could be. And that's the standard I tried to achieve with my manuscripts. But lately I've noticed typos and other errors creeping into some of the books I read. Here's an example. The late Robert B. Parker had a PhD in English. He had more than fifty novels to his credit. His novels were published by a well-known international publishing house.  Surely these books would be free of errors. And yet, in the one I'm currently re-reading, I encountered the name of a character misspelled as "Brain," rather than "Brian." It happens.

Should a reader notify an author when they find a misspelled word or other error in a book? Yes and no. They can let the author know, and he or she will undoubtedly forward the email or letter on to the editor involved. But a large publisher isn't going to do another print run just because of one such error. True, they'll probably correct it if the book goes to another printing, but that may or may not happen.

The book reviews you see are based on ARCs--Advance Reading Copies. These are unedited versions, but reviewers and endorsers are used to that, and make allowances. The final published form you pay for should be as perfect as the publisher can get it...but errors happen. My advice? Enjoy the book, let a responsible party know if there's an egregious error, but realize that nobody's perfect. Or, as someone once said, "Misteaks hapen!"

Have you found any errors in your favorite books? I'd like to know. Leave a comment and tell us.

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Gail H. said...

One or two misspelled words or a wrong word used I notice always. If it's a really good book, I ignore it. If it's completed and I notice many errors, it bothers me big time.
If it's my book, I highlight the errors. But like you said, nobody's perfect.

Richard Mabry said...

Gail, I agree. I've notice that since I began writing I notice errors in other people's books more. Not sure about mine, because I never open them once they're in print (or e-book format). Thanks for your comment.

Deb said...

This is the beauty of independent publishing. If someone advises me of a typo, I can pull the book at my choice, correct, and reissue. With traditional publishing, you can't do that. And yes, there are pros and cons to any choice other than Jesus Christ.

Richard Mabry said...

Deb, Good point. More and more authors are leaving traditional publishing for self-publishing, which is a subject that I plan to address later on. Thanks for your comment.

Flybabymom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Flybabymom said...

Errors bother me. Not a lot, but repeated errors get noticeable. I start feeling picky when I read lay instead of lie, sit/sat instead of set ("the house sat on a hill..." It did?) doesn't stop me from reading, but it does niggle... BTW, I LOVE your books, Dr. Mabry. I'm reading Fatal Trauma right now. Both my parents were physicians. I worked with them in their mission work and loved being on the periphery of medicine (not enough to become a doctor myself, though--I went into the ministry. :)). I enjoy reading your stories written from a physician's point of view. Blessings on your work.

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks--both for stopping by and leaving a comment, and for your kind words about my novels. I appreciate it.