I finished reading a boatload of books on my Kindle and found a surprising number of typos. Keep in mind the majority of these were works produced by traditional publishing houses where the editing attention to detail is quite high. I’m stating this fact because there is quite a bit of kerfuffle (like that word? I do!) and erroneous belief that the lack of editing and high percentage of errors only appear in self-published books. It should also be noted that the number of errors and typos are indeed greater in eBooks rather than print because of the differences in technology used to download books. Formatting changes from device to device so what might look great in PDF format may actually look like chicken scratch on an iPhone. Such things cannot be helped, so for the time being my focus is on obvious errors in writing.
Normally, I wouldn’t even dwell on a typo other than to think “hmmm, I wonder how they missed that.” Obviously, the most common errors appear with homophones (words which are pronounced the same but have different spellings and definitions, such as “their” and “there”). But of course, there are more and more instances in which I find a simple word such as “the” or “an” missing from a sentence. I am a fast reader so much of the time my hungry eyes glance right over these. The plot, characters, and language are far more important.
However, recently I was reading a book in which I uncovered a substantial boo-boo. One so great in its scope that I had to stop and go back to see if my doubting mind was in fact correct. I was. The author had miscounted the years in which a character had aged from the beginning to the later half of the story. Only by 2 years, mind you, but it was enough for me to question and backtrack to see if my reader calculations were amiss, upsetting my pace and involvement in the story. So this got me wondering…how could this have been missed in fact-checking? With rounds of people reading, editing, proofing, and more…didn’t someone see the numbers just didn’t add up? Obviously not.
Regardless of the goof, I kept reading. The story was strong and the characters engaging. I wanted to know how the author tied it all together in the end despite their inability to properly count someones age in years.
As an author, I don’t have the right to judge another’s efforts. I know how hard it is to cross every T and dot every I. My books have errors. Every book has errors. Some are just more glaring than others. I can guarantee that if you told an author how perfect you viewed their work, he/she would tell you dozens of things that were wrong with it. We never see perfection…even if the reader does.
As a reader, I don’t have the desire to judge another’s efforts. I want to enjoy their story. I want it to succeed rather than fail because then that means my time with their words was well spent. I’ve read a lot of books. Not every book is great or even good in terms of what I like. Yet, I wish every book was. I want to walk away satisfied. Hungry for more. I want to see perfection…even if the author doesn’t.
Q: What do you think when you spot a typo or major error in a book? Does it impact your impression on the author or can you still get lost in the story?
NOTE!!! On Friday September 9th, I will begin serializing my book Still Life for FREE on my blog. A new chapter will be posted every few weeks until the book is uploaded in its entirety. Once it is, it will remain for a limited time. If you haven’t done so already, go to the right-hand column of this site and sign up for email notifications. Don’t miss a new chapter! (THIS OFFER HAS ENDED AND ALL POSTS HAVE BEEN DELETED. eff. 1/6/12)