Sunday, April 19, 2015

Errors in published books

Photo by Leanne Dyck

Anna set the book down on the end table beside her reading chair. It was an engaging tale written by a skilled author. "But I found yet another typo," she told her husband, with a sigh.

Was Anna reading...
A) a self published novel
B) a novel released by a publishing house

A) There was a time most people would have guessed that the book was the work of an independent author. An author working alone, it was reasoned, can't produce a quality book. They don't know the importance of employing an editor nor how to find one. So, of course, their work will suffer. 

But independent authors such as Joanna Penn have kicked this reasoning to the curb. She shares the knowledge she's gained from her career as an independent author on her blog.

B) is the less popular answer. After all, it is reasoned, publishing houses employ an army of editors -- line editors, copy editors and proofreaders.


I recently read The Pillars of the Earth (Here's my review) It was a fine tale, written by a skilled author (Ken Follett) released by an established publishing house (Penguin). Yet I found more than one error. The most glaring, found on page 699, 'Philip found it hard to imagine Philip in that state.' It should have read:  Jack found it hard to imagine Philip in that state.

I've found similar mistakes in books written by Stephen King and...and... Well, it's a long list. In fact, I don't think I've read a mistake-free book. (If you have, please leave the title in the comment section of this blog.)

And why do these mistakes remain in traditionally published books?

In his book  Writing the Breakout Novel , Donald Maass offers an explanation

'It is not that editors cannot see these flaws, they can. Frequently, there is just not enough time available to pull a book from its "slot", send the author back to work and subsequently critique several additional drafts. In particular, I have noticed that second novels suffer from inattention. So do third novels in trilogies and novels in series that are on a one-a-year schedule.' (p. 22)
Anna picked up the book and continued to read.
"Oh, so, you're still enjoying the book?" Her husband asked.
"Well." Anna peeked up from the page. "If the book was riddled with mistakes and, or  if the story wasn't captivat..." Anna's attention was gobbled up by the book.
Let's give editors the last word, shall we... link


This survey results indicate that authors appreciate their editors. link

Why do published books have errors by Ally E Machate 

The Price of Typos by Virginia Heffernan

Sharing my author journey...

A few months ago, my husband advised me to write more. I had no idea what he was getting at. I do write lots. 
Then I realized that he wasn't talking about turning out story after story. No, he meant writing tons and tons on the same story. That seemed like a waste to me. I mean once you have written the story why go into more detail. It seemed like re-hashing the same conversation. It seemed like it, until this week...
This week I've been working on larger work, reducing it to produce short stories. These short stories sing on the page.
Now, I know the wisdom in my husband's words. If you have more than you need you can pick the best of what you have.


letscutthecrap said...

I know it's difficult to read past an error when you mind tells remembers what it thinks you wrote.

Misspelling does tick me off. A lot of blame has been stack on indie authors who have mostly worked alone. Even they strive harder now but still the Big Five manage to let error slip by.

Great post and informative links. Thanks, Leanne.

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for your comment, Tess. I wish I could afford to send each and every one of these blog articles to an army of editors before I publish them. Errors of all kinds are so easy to make. Thank heavens for the readers who continue to read on.

Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne — Like most, I find errors in many of the books I read. Currently I reading ALL OVER CREATION by Ruth Ozeki and have yet to encounter an error. I'm only halfway through — time will tell...

Leanne Dyck said...

I hadn't heard about this book. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, Laurie.