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Does Proofediting Matter to You?

Do proofreading/copyediting errors matter to you?

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There has been some talk of publishers moving to a digital workflow based on xml markup language. The benefit of this is that it cuts down on the errors as a book moves through production. Currently books are typeset for a printer using a desktop publishing software program. When these books are converted to digital, the resulting file can have errors.

In reading the Audacity to Win, the errors started in the warning stage:

Throughout the book, I found several errors, the most egregious of which I screenshot for this post. However, there were frequent missing periods or quotation marks, usually at the beginning of a sentence.   I waver between laughter and frustration.   To some extent, I’m becoming  inured  to these errors.   They are present from small independent epublishers like Belgrave House to the largest publishing houses like Penguin and Harlequin.

I am of the opinion that a book should be error free, but I don’t think that the casual reader really cares about this.   In taking a quick poll of my family, only my mother, a former teacher, really cared that a book was perfect in its proofing.   The three others, all big readers, shrugged.

I know that some authors are very conscious of errors in their books and will agonize over not just the right word, but whether the word should be italicized.   Seeing spelling errors in their books drive them crazy.   Oftentimes there are edits that take place after the author has seen it and before it gets to the printer.

I have been thinking that proofing or copy editing for ebooks perhaps don’t take place. Certainly a spell check would have caught “authons”, “authoris”,   “FUnfortunately” and “oany”.

Perhaps, though, errors are actually commonplace and in a book with 90,000+ words, should we really be so concerned about a few proofing errors here or there?   Maybe proofing errors are merely funfortunate, a wry type of fun.   What do you think?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. mulberry
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 04:44:37

    Hmm. I wavered between “Book should be perfect” and “Can have a few errors”.

    As a reader, I do notice errors and they pull me out of the story. I can accept a few in the course of a whole book. Okay, every time I notice one it will break the flow, but as long as that’s not happening too often I’ll keep reading. Too many errors dragging me out of enjoying the narrative, and I’ll not only throw the book against the wall, I’ll think twice about buying anything else from that publisher and that writer.

    Which is unfair to the writer. I’m sure that manuscript didn’t go to the editor with Funfortunate in it. I’m part of a writing group of “unpublished but working on it” writers. We run our stuff through the spellchecker something like twenty times before any of us lets the other group members loose on it. Then it gets several sets of eyes to line edit and pick up the things the spellchecker won’t. Then and only then does anything get sent off to the publisher.

    Writers should be able to expect that their publisher will not add errors. And readers should be able to expect a book with as few errors as possible.

    (and I just went back to edit all the typos in my post!)

  2. Kat
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 04:45:16

    It really, REALLY bugs me when books have errors because it tells me that no one – not the author or the editor – cared enough about the book.

    The worst I saw was SEP’s Breathing Room. It might have been because I was reading a reprint of it from a UK publisher so it was a step removed from the people who really cared about it, but there were a dozen times when the hero (Ren) was called ‘Hen’. I’m sorry, but it ruins the mood to read that Hen is kissing Isabelle.

  3. mulberry
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 04:48:39

    LOL, Kat, that would throw anyone.
    And now I’m wondering if that Hen was any relation to the chicken in Virgin Stable Girl.

  4. Nonny
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 04:58:12

    There can be a few errors, but it depends on what they are. There are some that I can see slipping past because spell check won’t catch them, and they are close enough to the intended word that the eye might slide right over them.

    The sort of mistakes mentioned in this post, though, are unacceptable to me. If you can’t run a basic spell check… sorry, but no.

  5. GrowlyCub
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 06:04:27

    I think the increase in lousy copy-editing shows a lack of care and disdain for readers on both the authors’ and the editors’/publishers’ part. I know it’s hard to see mistakes on the screen after the 12th re-read, but that’s where you print things out and hand them over to a person who has not seen the manuscript before. But that costs money and since publishing is in the dumps (for their own stupidity more than anything else) I guess that’s where they are ‘saving’ money and energy.

    I pisses the hell out of me and I get thrown out of the story.

    I think it’s a sign of the times because nobody can seemingly be bothered to write grammatically correctly and folks are dependent on their spell checkers. I happen to be a teacher (language) and one of the arguments I got from *college* students was that they couldn’t be bothered to cross their ‘t’s and dot their ‘i’s because after all the computer does it for them and it’s such an imposition to require them to write by hand for homework, vocabulary tests and exams. That’s lazy bull, but it seems part of culture these days.

    Can you tell this is a pet peeve? :)

    To recap I feel that bad copy-editing is a sign that the author and publisher don’t give a shit about their customers or think the readers are too dumb to notice.

  6. Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 06:23:20

    I’m getting my first-ever copy edits this week, and my former English teacher self is stirring. I really, really don’t want careless mistakes to stand, but I know how easy it is for the eye to skim by errors. After grading countless misspelled papers, so many things that are wrong look all right to me now from seeing them repeatedly. Then there are issues, like between “all right” and “alright.” I was taught to think the first was the only way to go, despite alright being in usage for 75 years (and I’m not that old, LOL). Rein/reign, taut/taught, etc.—there’s a lot of room for goofs.

    So, I expect to be cross-eyed by the time I’m done, and I’ll bet I’ll miss something that will drive me crazy.

  7. Susan Helene Gottfried
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 06:35:27

    There ARE errors in going from print to digital. Mistakes that aren’t in the print version will show up in the digital, and they can be odd. When I converted The Demo Tapes to the Kindle, you should have seen the mess on my hands; we had to go over it twice, the first time simply inserting carriage returns. The second time, I had to go word for word comparing the print version to Kindle’s conversion. No wonder I’ve been loathe to convert Demo Tapes 2.

  8. Lynne Connolly
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 06:45:16

    The more basic mistakes an author makes, and I’m talking spelling, grammar and so on here, the more the editor has to concentrate on those, rather than the other things like timelines, internal conflicts, the things that actually make a book good. Therefore it’s in every author’s interests to make her copy as clean as she can.

    Having said that, major structural changes also increase errors. I just cut 20,000 words out of “Eyton,” because it was far too long, and my wonderful editor checked the timeline carefully for me and spotted a few days’ discrepancy where I’d cut out a subplot. Doing that kind of thing leads to more errors.

    Errors can appear between author, editor and publication. Many houses, not just epublishers, use Track Changes in Microsoft Word to edit, and most have now gone over to some form of electronic editing. It’s faster and cheaper (no mailing costs). If you’ve ever seen a manuscript smothered in changes, then you might see how mistakes could occur.

    I’m not condoning these mistakes. I voted for “perfection” in the poll above, though in reality as a reader I’ll accept a few errors, especially if I really, really want to read the book. But it’s important for an author and her editor to read through the final copy of the book, after it’s been through edits, line edits and so on and cleaned up. I think this is the part that’s often skipped. Partly because, after three, four or even five complete passes, the author is sick of the book and doesn’t want to see it again. But the feeling soon passes, and it’s part of the job. Not the most fun part.

    Also, in electronic format, I know that some formats are more prone to error than others. I can’t imagine reading through every single format to ensure no errors are made. It’s well known that Word is extremely fallible when it comes to spellcheck. Perhaps some clever programmer should work on a brilliant, foolproof checking program.
    Or someone could come up with a way to compare the versions with an original, master version.

  9. Ros
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 06:48:45

    The copy of Scandal’s Bride I bought has a peculiar error – every so often, but not always, the pair of letters ‘fi’ are replaced with a ‘?’, so you get words like ‘signi?cance’. Usually, it’s easy to work out what the words are supposed to be, especially once you’ve noticed the pattern in the error. But I’m afraid it irritates me every time I read it, because it’s so obvious that no one in the publishing house even skimmed the book before it went to print and they started charging people money for it.

    I was at the Georgette Heyer conference yesterday and one of the speakers told us that at one stage Heyer’s publishers never bothered to read her manuscripts at all – they went to print exactly as she sent them in. Heyer was quite cross about this, and rightly so, I think, because it actually shows a lack of care for the book and lack of respect for the readers.

    I know people are human, so some errors are inevitable and excusable. But not bothering to do the job at all is not.

  10. Angela James
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 06:54:36

    I don’t think it’s possible for a book to be perfect. I would wager that no book is without at least one or a few errors. And having a few errors doesn’t mean that the author/editor “don’t care”, as GrowlyCub said above (though a lot of errors would be another matter).

    My favorite (and probably best) example of how human error is just…human error and not a lack of care is a book I edited that had been previously released in print by another company. It was a co-authored book, so it had two authors, who both went over the book, plus their beta readers (at least 2) who went over the book. Then the print company’s editor and copy editor both went over the book several times, then back to the authors. So many rounds of editing before it ever got to me, then I did several rounds of editing back and forth to the authors. Then it went to the copyeditor, who went over it twice, then back to me and back to the authors. Definitely no lack of care in this book, right? But the book went to digital publication and a reader emailed pointing out a kind of glaring typo. No less than 8 people saw that book, and still that error got through.

    Typos happen, humans are fallible. So I don’t ever expect a book will be perfect, though certainly that’s what I strive for when I edit, but I don’t think the editing on a book is terrible when I see a few typos. When they’re egregious.

  11. S
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 07:07:35

    Anyone else here a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3k? A couple a guys trapped in space keep up a running commentary while being forced to watch really bad movies. Funny stuff.

    How does that relate to this topic? Well, I remember one episode where the trapped viewers show proof after proof the director ‘just didn’t care’.

    Mistakes happen, I think everyone is okay with that. It’s when you realize somebody (maybe a lot of somebodies) ‘just didn’t care’ about the final product or the consumer thereof that you feel cheated. Cheated out of the money you spent, the time you invested, the story you wanted to love.

    So, while I don’t expect perfection I do expect everyone involved in the creation process to strive for it.

  12. Kelley Armstrong
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 07:14:26

    I’m a perpetual lurker, but I really had to comment on this:

    I am of the opinion that a book should be error free.

    And this from the comments:

    It really, REALLY bugs me when books have errors because it tells me that no one – not the author or the editor – cared enough about the book.

    I think readers don’t realize how easy it is to miss a typo or two in a 100,000 word manuscript despite the author’s best efforts. I hate errors and typos. I’m horribly embarrassed by every one.

    By the time I get the proof pages, though, I’ve read the book 5-6 times in the past 3 months. I know what every word SHOULD say. I’m useless as a proofreader. But is that an excuse? No, so I take additional steps.

    I do still read it, very slowly, trying to catch errors. I have 8 beta readers at the copyedit stage. At the proof stage, my assistant and 17 year old daughter also proofread. All of this is paid for by me (printing and mailing bound beta copies, thank you gifts for the readers, my assistant’s pay, even my daughter expects to be compensated–damn teens)

    Then the book comes out, and I can almost guarantee a typo or two. I encourage readers to send them to me and I’m very grateful when they do. I immediately notify all my English language publishers to get it fixed in the next reprint.

    When I get the occasional email saying “I found a typo on p 344 and it ruined the whole book for me” I’m pretty sure people in Florida hear me screaming. If one wrong word in 120,000 seriously “ruins” a book for you, it’s time to find a new hobby.

    Do errors show a lack of care on the author’s part? Only if there are mistakes throughout the manuscript (and presuming the author saw the proof pages) If you only find one or two errors, you’re seeing a lot of EXTRA care–and most authors I know take that extra care.

    The publishers play a role. We can blame them for poor copyediting and proofreading, but the bottom line is that my name goes on the book, so every mistake looks like mine. I need to do what I can to avoid that. I think I do, and I’m always open to suggestions for improvement, but I suspect the struggle for perfection is a battle I’m doomed to lose!

  13. BevQB
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 07:26:33

    Have you ever taken one of those tests where each word in a paragraph is scrambled except for the first and last letter? I can read through those with no hesitation (my kids can too).

    So, while spelling errors SHOULD bother me, I just don’t SEE them most of the time unless I’m specifically looking for them. My brain just automatically corrects as I read.

    In addition, some words are so commonly spelled incorrectly by even the most intelligent people that even if the incorrect spelling is a different word than the author intended (i.e. loose-lose) I just kind of shrug and move on.

    However, having said all that, missing or incorrect puncuation can drive me nutso. I’m not talking about incorrect use of the mysterious semicolons, I’m talking about quotation marks, commas, question marks and periods. When that basic puncuation is missing or wrong, I’m forced to stop reading to figure out what the author was TRYING to write.

    Actually, the same goes for grammar. However I’m forced to accept that sometimes wording that makes me pause just might be regional phrasing. For example, I frequently see “I’m bored of him”, which sounds completely wrong to me since MY phrasing would be “I’m bored with him.” As crazy as it makes me, I’ve seen of used instead of with so many times that, even though I still pause (and cringe), I just substitute the “correct” ;-D word and move on.

    *hee, I had to edit because I did not spell grammar correctly*

  14. Cheryl S
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 07:32:13

    Look I know I’m being totally anal, but the original post has waiver instead of waver.

    I only mention it because it literally jumped out at me. I guess that shows which side of the fence I stand when it comes to typos.

    They drive me nuts. Pure and simple.

    Having said that, I am realistic enough to know that proof-reading your own stuff is next to impossible – and it is bloody hard work for editors too.

    So I usually bite my tongue and forcibly drag myself back into the story. But… if there are too many errors, I feel like hurling the book at the wall.

  15. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 07:38:35

    I’d prefer perfect, but a few errors won’t bother me as long as it’s not anything that completely pulls me out of the story.

  16. Jennifer Colgan
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 07:43:48

    As a freelance copy-editor, I spend a lot of time searching manuscripts for errors. There’s nothing I’d like more than to see every book out there be completely perfect. However, I’ve never read a book that didn’t have at least one small typo somewhere. That can occur at any stage of production, and I firmly believe, since everything is subject to human error, there’s no way a document of any appreciable size can be 100% error free.

    In some cases transferring a file from one computer to another, or one program to another will acutally generate errors. I’ve found this in my own books that have occasionally come from my editors with extra periods thrown in.. Stuff happens, but I do believe all publishers should be dedicated to putting out the best product possible.

  17. joanne
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 07:44:10

    For me it totally depends on why there are errors.

    Human errors are bound to happen. Authors miss a detail, they just do, being human and all *g*.

    Editors or authors can go passed a misspelled character name, or some character in the wrong place or time, even after a hundred re-reads.

    Some of these are just human errors and as long as they aren’t a symptom of other carelessness by the author or publisher then I’m okay with giving them a pass. Perfection in anything or anyone always makes me just a tad itchy.

    The errors that are simple to rectify with a spelling program or are caused by the conversion to electronic devices or by a formatting program don’t get a pass.

  18. Maria Zannini
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 07:49:41

    Recently, a friend of mine had his SF thriller published by a NY publisher. Great book, but as I read, I couldn’t help but notice the few (noticeable) typos in the book.

    There’s no telling how many people checked that book before it went to print, yet typos still happen.

    Does it take away from the author? Heck no! Unless it was riddled with errors, it wouldn’t decrease my enjoyment of the book.

    I was hesitant to mention the typos to him, but I did anyway, in the hopes his publisher might correct them in the next printing. I know I’d want to know if there was an error in my book.

  19. Anonymous Author
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 07:51:20

    I think the increase in lousy copy-editing shows a lack of care and disdain for readers on both the authors' and the editors'/publishers' part.


    It really, REALLY bugs me when books have errors because it tells me that no one – not the author or the editor – cared enough about the book.

    No, no, no, it doesn’t. I can’t say anything about the editor/publisher part, but I have had errors introduced in my books after the last page-proof stage by my publisher’s final reader. I had no chance to see the “changes” they made before print. And what do I do? Get my author copies and then demand that they reprint tens of thousands of books because they substituted a wrong word for a right one without my knowledge?

    It drives me absolutely crazy to have something less than perfect out there, but there is nothing I can do about this. It literally makes me sick to my stomach.

    All I can do is make the page-proof stage perfect and then hope they only introduce one or two errors at the final stage.

    So, yes, I think books should be perfect–I think readers deserve a perfect book as far as copy-editing goes, and I take my responsibility to deliver that very, very seriously.

  20. Elyssa Papa
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 07:52:53

    I think a few to little errors are fine in a book. But I also think I’m much more flexible on this issue than I used to be and know how little typos slip through. I sent in my revisions to my agent last week and I was going through the mss and found typos that made me feel stupid.

  21. Jessica Kennedy
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 07:56:18

    I want my books to be nearly perfect. Books are not cheap ($1 – $4) therefore I believe the amount of money one spends on a book demands that a book be nearly flawless. Of course there’s a great chance for mistakes in a 100k word book so a few can be overlooked. But when there are numerous silly mistakes, it’s just brutal to read.

  22. Laine
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 07:59:36

    Yes, it does bother me. It throws me out of reader’s trance.

    There are so many kinds of mistakes in ebooks: spelling, punctuation, grammar, formatting and incorrect facts.

    Sometimes the result can be humorous. When I read about a picnic where the participants enjoyed ‘a picture of lemonade’ I had a giggle. Also about the shoes with ‘souls’.

    I’ve tried to edit this post. I assure you any mistakes are due to an aging laptop with sticky keys. (Probably caused by my bad habit of munching biscuits while I browse the web.

    As BevQB said it can be hard to find your own errors. You know what you wrote and that is what you see.

  23. Caz
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 08:01:04

    Like most here, poor spelling and grammar REALLY bugs me and takes me out of the story when I come across it. But then we’re all human and mistakes happen – as long as they’re not too obvious or too many, I can live with it, although when I’m paying for something, I tend to expect it to be free from error.

    The misuse of “of” as pointed out above #13 also drives me nuts. The example cited is one, the other one is “she should of” instead of “she should HAVE”. I guess the problem is that “of” is so often the way that phrase is said (or heard = “should’ve”) that people have forgotten the correct usage.

    I know that language is a “living thing”, but it does sadden me to see it going backwards :(

  24. cecilia
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 08:06:19

    I want books to be perfect, too, but I can forgive a typo or two. I can’t stand to see words confused, or expressions mangled, though (for example, “one in the same” instead of “one and the same”). Those just make everyone involved in the process look ignorant.

    I know there are plenty of other people who care about the mechanics, too, because on a regular basis I’ll see inked-in corrections in library books.

  25. The Octopus Gallery
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 08:33:18

    I’m in the a couple of errors is okay camp, but I really think they should be corrected in subsequent printings. Of course, then you get new and exciting typos! Heh. Typos don’t throw me out of a book. They may make me snicker though. I also wonder if it’s a newbie editor. For example, the editor just changed for a non-profit publication I receive and you can tell this guy is just overall new. Everything is spelled right, but there are a couple of instance where the wrong word was spelled right. For example: “Beaver damn.” Hilarious in my book, but I’m really hoping that he improves for the next go-round. The quality of the publication reflects on the organization, whether for- or non-profit.

  26. ~B
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 08:41:20

    I don’t think a book can be “perfect”, but it does bug me when I find errors that are easily found/fixable such as ligature errors. I can think of three books I just read and the errors they had…

    Lauren Dane’s ‘Trinity’ had a couple typos, them for then and such and one error where a different characters name was used in place of another characters. The typos weren’t a big deal (2 in a whole book that I saw). The name was a bit more problematic as it pulled me right out of the story and made me go????? But it wasn’t unforgivable. I emailed the errors to Samhain and Laurie Rauch responded and said she’d pass them on to get fixed. All in all I have little problem when the errors described above happen.

    Jennifer Rardin’s ‘Bite Marks’ had an error that bugged me a bit. In a whole bunch of places a persons name wouldn’t be capitalized. Every time I hit a spot where this happened it drove me nuts. I realize for some that probably wouldn’t be a huge deal, turns out that for me it bugged the heck out of me. All in all though it didn’t “ruin” the book.

    ‘Mine til Midnight’ by Lisa Kelypas was the third. It had errors all over the place, spaces in the middle of words, paragraphs run together and other errors a simple spell check would have caught. And since it’s a Macmillan/St. Martin’s book it has a $14 list price as an ebook. If they’re going to try ripping off ebook customers anyway then they can damn well spend a bit of time making the book decent. Trying to read this book got so bad that I spent the time to fix things myself, which took a little over two hours, before I continued reading it. So I guess in it’s original form this book was ruined for me by the errors.


  27. katiebabs
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 08:45:54

    Authoris? Is that a new word?

    I don’t mind a few errors, one or two, but pages upon pages is ridiculous. Major proof editing FAIL.

  28. Jane
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 08:48:13

    @Cheryl S: I consider you all my editors. LOL. Bookoven is a place where authors can upload bitesized pieces to be edited, both for content and for grammar/punctuation. I should do that for my posts!

  29. Sandy James
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 08:49:52


    It really, REALLY bugs me when books have errors because it tells me that no one – not the author or the editor – cared enough about the book.

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I could launch into a long lecture about how our brains work, but I’ll spare you. Just ask one of my AP psych students. They can explain. ;-) Suffice to say we ignore the familiar. An author thought of it, wrote it, edited it, ad nauseum. So she doesn’t always “see” what’s right in front of her anymore. A dropped word. A misplaced comma. When you were in school, how many papers did you turn in, swearing there weren’t any typos only to have it handed back by a professor who left red ink bleeding down the page?

    In all my books, I’ve edited and proofread them more times than I can count. My editor gets her shot. I make changes. I read it again before I send it back. The publisher goes through the changes. Then I get my final read through copy. So I see it yet again, and my mom and daughter have a go at it as well. One has a PhD and the other is an English teacher. (Thanks, Mom and Laura!!) The publisher gives it yet another proofread. How can anyone believe that no one cared about that book? And yet, I still find minor errors. Sometimes they’re just formatting issues — for example, the computer doesn’t pick up a hard return and two characters’ dialogue ends up in the same paragraph after the read through. (Happened to me, and a reviewer called me on it as if I didn’t know that rule. Talk about embarrassing!)

    Suffice to say, I care. A lot. My editor cares. My friends and family care. I strive to produce as perfect a product as I can put out there.

    As Angela James put it so succinctly:

    I don't think it's possible for a book to be perfect.

  30. CourtneyLee
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 08:51:45

    Like others, I can forgive the occaisional typo. We’re only human, after all. But I have high expectations in terms of grammar, spelling, and punctuation because there are very well-established conventions for all of them and if someone is copyediting a book, they should be mostly familiar with them. When mistakes happen that make me have to read the sentence more than once in order to figure out what the author meant, that drives me nuts. I read a book once (it was from a small e-press, but that’s no excuse) that looked like whoever felt it was publication-ready hadn’t passed high school English.

    My biggest pet peeve, though, is homonyms. Their, they’re, there, it’s, its, to, too, two, were, we’re, hare, hair, etc. I was drilled on them extensively in school purely because they’re too susceptible to mix-ups and now the lot of them are imprinted indellibly on my brain. When I see “they’re” in a book when only “their” makes sense, I’m pulled completely out of the story. I feel that they are one of the things that copyeditors should be hyperaware of because they’re such a frequently made error and so easily corrected.

  31. Sandy James
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 08:56:49

    Oh… and by the way. That book that a reviewer criticized for a formatting error has a five star rating on, finaled in the Colorado Romance Wrtiers Award of Excellence, and just won the Aspen Gold Readers’ Choice for best contemporary romance of 2009. Thank God, most readers can evidently forgive a mistake or two.

  32. Jessica D
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 09:13:26

    I voted for perfection ’cause my fellow copy editors would stone pencil me to death if I didn’t. But of course a typo or two is going to slip through. It doesn’t ruin my experience or make me think less of the book’s author, editor(s), or publisher.

    The last time I found a couple of minor typos in a book, it was one written by a friend of a friend. I cringed for her, then moved on. I have experienced a book so poorly edited I couldn’t read it, but not often. And once (I believe it was Guns, Germs, and Steel), I simply couldn’t deal with the way the author used semicolons, though I’m not sure they were technically incorrect. Copy editors are funny that way. :)

  33. Keishon
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 09:27:20

    Agree with Angela James – no book will ever be perfect or error free and I wouldn’t have such high expectations. It would be nice but we’re human and fallible. Errors bother me as a reader as a well so I do think the final book should be as close to error free as possible where the reader doesn’t notice them. One or two mistakes here or there are easily forgiven compared to a greater number of mistakes that are noticeably distracting.

  34. Jennifer Leeland
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 09:30:01

    It’s really hard to put my author hat away on this one, because I know I’ve done round after round of edits, line edits and proof reads only to find the end product STILL had an error or two. It bugs me. A lot.
    As a reader, I’ve seen errors and it didn’t faze me. But RIDDLED with errors and I get distracted by the errors away from the story.
    As an author, however, I HATE when I discover mistakes have slipped by me and my editor. I aim for perfect. I aim for making the best book ever. But as a reader, I can accept errors as long as they’re not frequent.

  35. maddie
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 09:35:30

    I voted, “The book can have a few errors” because unless some one invents some super proof reading computer software programs there will be some mistakes.

    What I do have a problem is where a name of the H/h like one book I read, towards the end of the book the author slipped with another name and why the editor and author did not catch it had me scratching my head, because you had to reread the page again just to see who and where this person came from.

    The other book had the person’s eyes change from Blue to a Pale Green again it’s the central character and you wonder how that was overlooked too.

  36. Becca
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 09:50:34

    I voted that the book can have a few errors, because I’ve been a copy editor and I know how hard it is to get everything just right, particularly when the work is riddled with errors. I do think that the proofreaders should strive for perfection, however. I’m much more likely to forgive a few minor things than a whole lot of them. (there was one Nora Roberts book, I’ve forgotten which one, where homonyms were so badly mangled that I couldn’t read the book at all!)


  37. tricia
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 09:51:44

    I can’t get too emotional about this, even though I’m a past copyeditor for nonfiction. Here’s why: A lot of people who are most hyper about errors can’t spell to save their own lives! They see errors where there are none.

    Recently, when I was having this discussion with someone else and we got into it over the phrase “free reign”–IT’S WRONG.

    And I see it over and over again, because people have started to believe it’s right. It should be “free rein” because the phrase comes from allowing horses to go nearly wild. But if I were to write “free rein” in a book, people would come out of the woodwork insisting on “reign” instead. They’ve seen it in a hundred books or more. And on the internet.

    Jane, I love this blog regardless of its many spelling and usage errors. I’m never going to be the person who writes you an email to correct you, because honestly at this point it’s part of the charm of your posts. In a book it’s a different story and more than a few errors will annoy me, but I’m more annoyed in a print book than I am with an ebook–those conversion errors are just part of the deal for me.

  38. Jane O
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 10:06:25

    I would love to see error-free books, but I’m not at all sure such things are possible. Yes, publishers are cutting back on copyediting and proofreading. If they aren’t cut out completely, the copyeditors and proofreaders are expected to do so many pages per hour that errors are almost inevitable. And authors don’t always get a chance to correct errors that the proofreaders and copyeditors introduced. As for spell-check, it can only tell you that a word is correctly spelled. It can’t tell you that you have the wrong word -‘ eg. rein or reign.

    However, granting that there are more errors these days, especially in inexpensive paperbacks, what makes anyone think there were error-free books in the past? For example, did you ever see a line repeated in a book, once with an error and once without? That happens when the corrected line is reset in lead type but whoever inserts it neglects to remove the incorrect line (or sometimes removes the wrong line). Or a line that actually curves? Whoever pasted it into place slipped up.

    Perfection is a lovely goal, but I don’t really expect it.

  39. Jennifer M
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 10:07:44

    I’m one of those people that can look at a page and immediately see the spelling errors. They just look “wrong” to me. I’ve often thought about volunteering to copy edit because I love to read and it is so easy for me to see errors. I’d prefer my books to be perfect, but I understand that we are all human and mistakes do happen, so I try not to let it bother me.

    What is starting to drive me crazy, though, is the quantity of errors in ebooks. I switched to a Kindle last year and have since read about 300 ebooks. Every one of them has had errors, some more than others, some to the point where the book was virtually unreadable. I’ve gathered that the way many books are being turned into ebooks is through an optical scanning process. This introduces numerous errors into the manuscript because the scanner has a tendency to “read” words incorrectly, for example an “ri” in a book will often be read as an “n”. It seems to me that it is so cheap to produce an e-copy from a book that has already been published that the least the publishers could do is spare an editor to do another proof on a newly converted ebook but they must not be doing so. There are just so many errors, and they are so obvious, that I can’t imagine them slipping by any halfway competent copy editor otherwise.

    Another thing that drives me crazy is that the ebook version never seems to get corrected after it is obvious that there are errors. I understand the print version not being corrected since that would require a reprint, but there is no excuse for an ebook to continue to exist for any length of time without corrections. Maybe I’m missing something about the process. Can’t the electronic file just be fixed as soon as the publisher/author see the errors so that subsequent purchasers of the ebook get a corrected file?

    OK, rant off, back to lurking.

  40. Kerensa Brougham
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 10:20:52

    Like most, a few errors won’t bother me, particularly if it’s possible they were machine-generated, or easy mistakes. I’m far more concerned with Giant Gaping Plot Holes or Absolutely No Motivation For The Character’s Actions Whatsoever. Those are “author mistakes.” The former could come anywhere in the process and have nothing to do with author intent at all.

    I was just talking about this with my mother recently. She’s an avid reader and was complaining about the typos in a book she was reading, saying she wasn’t sure she’d read that author again. When I told her the author is NOT always the last person to see the book before it goes to print, and explained the vagaries of our new digital publishing model (because even print books, as noted above, are now more often than not produced via largely digital means), she rethought her position and forgave the author.

    I guess that’s my main point. Unless there are several egregious errors per page, I say – let ’em go. At the very least, don’t blame the poor author.

    That said, I’m one of those writers who not only agonize over the correct word, but whether or not it should be italicized, or if the structure of one of my paragraphs is really as effective as it could be, and if I just put the carriage return in a different spot, how would that change the impact, and…. ;?)

    Oh, and my CPs have referred to me as the “Grammar Whipmaster.” So I’m sure when I get published, even the tiny mistakes in my book will affect me personally!

  41. Cathy
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 10:30:15

    I’m willing to forgive a few errors, homonyms, etc, but some things just drive me batty – like the character names getting switched.

    I’ve been really frustrated by what appears to be the lax editing of ebooks – I’ve bought many Kindle books that have had serious formatting errors. Things like paragraphs in the middle of a sentence, odd italics, or sentences that runtogetherlikethis. Some of these errors indicate to me that either no one re-read the book after converting it to the new format, or if they did they either did an incredibly shoddy job or didn’t read the whole thing. I know changing font size can mess with formatting, but there are some things that are always problematic.

  42. Moriah Jovan
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 10:35:51


    lax editing of ebooks – I've bought many Kindle books that have had serious formatting errors. Things like paragraphs in the middle of a sentence, odd italics, or sentences that runtogetherlikethis. Some of these errors indicate to me that either no one re-read the book after converting it to the new format, or if they did they either did an incredibly shoddy job or didn't read the whole thing. I know changing font size can mess with formatting, but there are some things that are always problematic.

    This is, by and large, a Kindle-specific problem. You can do everything in the Kindle instructions correctly and still have a crappily formatted e-book. The person who uploaded it probably doesn’t know and Amazon has only recently begun taking a look at formatting issues.

    It helps substantially if people know how to format a MOBI file and upload that to the Kindle store, as that’s Kindle’s native format. But most people don’t a) know how to format a MOBI properly and b) don’t know they should do that, since nowhere is this information offered.

    IOW, formatting problems aren’t editing issues.

  43. Ann K
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 10:35:57

    I’d prefer for a book to be perfectly proofread and free of typos. However, each time someone looks at a manuscript to correct an error, there’s also the potential to introduce an error, even unintentionally. We humans aren’t perfect. A couple typos in a book? No problem.

    I’m far more bothered by incorrect word usage.

  44. Linda
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 10:38:34

    Can you tell this is a pet peeve? :)

    Thank you, GrowlyCub. Ditto!

    As a teacher, I have to be very precise about teaching grammar and punctuation to my students. The problem lies, however, with the fact that the standards of education are being lowered. What we used to do and were expected to do when we were the students is no longer enforced. If kids use “Id luv 2” in their text messages, it’s to be “acceptable” in their work. Nope. Sorry. That doesn’t cut it for me. Unfortunately, I’m seeing this kind of acceptance show up in the work force and everyday experiences with alarming frequency. People are bowing to laziness and an apathetic attitude.

    True, mistakes happen. Not every book can be 100% accurate because we’re human (and because spellcheck can’t tell me that “there” should have been “they’re”.) But that doesn’t mean we authors and the editors should slack off. Most of all, publishers have to remember that putting out sloppy copy is as bad as publishing a lousy story. Both might keep a reader from buying from that author or publisher in the future.

    Getting off soap box now. Thanks. :)

  45. Sandy James
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 10:45:18


    The problem lies, however, with the fact that the standards of education are being lowered. What we used to do and were expected to do when we were the students is no longer enforced. If kids use “Id luv 2″ in their text messages, it's to be “acceptable” in their work. Nope. Sorry.

    Amen, sister! My students get an automatic “rewrite” if they put any text-speak in a paper. Makes me want to shake them ’til their teeth rattle. “It’s your mother tongue! Show a little pride!”

  46. Jennifer Estep
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 10:52:14

    I hate seeing errors in any book, especially one of my own. But like others have said, they are pretty much inevitable. Our brain tells us to type one thing, but our fingers do another. It happens in all kinds of documents — books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, thesis papers, etc.

    But saying that authors/editors/publishing houses don’t care about errors is insulting to everyone involved in the process of turning a manuscript into a finished book. Because it is a long, hard process, and we do care — a lot. A whole heck of a lot. But no one is perfect. We all do the very best we can, but mistakes happen. That’s life, I’m afraid.

  47. jmc
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 10:52:21

    Proofreading/editing matters to me as a reader. While I would like perfection, I don’t expect it. I do expect, however, that basic grammar errors and spelling errors will be caught. As BevBQ mentions above, if words look right, we skip over them. So if I “see” a dozen typos in a book, how many more are there that I missed because they looked almost correct?

    I’m reading an e-book right now in which the main character “waives” goodbye to someone (on two different occasions); in another scene, another character began wearing a babydoll tee but finished the scene wearing a halter top. WTH? I twittered a couple of weeks ago about a sample of an ebook that I’d read in which I counted no fewer than six incorrect word usages and dozens of missing or misplaced punctuation marks. Ended up buying a copy of the book for the train wreck factor alone…and wound up book marking ~70 places where the wrong words were used, words were misspelled, grammar was bad, or punctuation was wrong/missing.

    And don’t get me started about the random insertion of dashes at non-breakpoints in words in order to create line breaks, or spaces inserted in the middle of words. (This happened on several occasions in my e-version of Kindred in Death.)

  48. JulieB
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 11:03:00

    I chose perfect because that’s what writers, editors, and publishers should strive for. The reality is that some errors slip through. Lowering expectations is never a good thing. I’m more willing to accept typos and minor errors in a book when I know there was a rigorous editing and proofing process.

    Publishers make money by selling books, and like other businesses, they’re going to have a tough time staying solvent if they produce shoddy products. It’s a disservice to the reader, but also one to the writer. The writer generally ends up taking the blame. I had a book that went to press in the UK while I was still proofing the galleys in the US version. I had no opportunity to proof the galleys, and numerous errors were introduced during the conversion process. Angry readers didn’t go after the publisher – they went after me. So you bet your bottom side proofing matters to me.

  49. Caligi
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 11:21:44

    The odd minor typo is forgivable, but repeated errors, especially word choice errors, drive me batty.

    Discrete when she means discreet, the notorious “they’re, their, there” gang, ever-changing character name spelling, fuzzy math – these can ruin a book.

    Ebook formatting isn’t really an editing problem, but it’s definitely a problem. Ebooks can be such a crap shoot that it’s unbelievable they cost almost as much as the paper book. Publishers really piss me off there, because that’s a mix of laziness and ignorance.

  50. Gina
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 11:30:15

    I can forgive a few errors of grammar or formatting. Spell-check should take care of misspellings, so I’m less forgiving if those pop up.

    What I hate is when continuity is broken. When a new name suddenly pops up, I am thrown out of the story. Contextually I realize that it is actually Character X, but I have to stop and figure it out. When a character’s appearance changes (everything from body type to hair color to eye color) it irritates the hell out of me. I think that bothers me the most, because it makes the characters less real to me. It’s basic details that the author should have clear. Don’t start out by introducing me to a tall statuesque brunette with green eyes, then later in the book have the hero go on and on about how delicate she is or how he gets lost in her fathomless blue eyes. I have no patience for stuff like that, and will usually not buy another book by that author because I don’t trust her to write a character I can “see”.

  51. GrowlyCub
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 11:42:35

    It’s not about an occasional typo here or there. It’s about bad grammar, incorrect word usage, incorrect punctuation, etc.

    Courtney Lee, I agree on people not paying attention to words that are pronounced the same but are spelled differently. Except those are not homonyms, they are called homophones. :) Homonyms are words that are spelled and pronounced alike but have different meanings.

  52. Anion
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 12:04:10

    Dittoing Kelley Armstrong here. We do care, trust me. We really, really, really care. Here’s a little story, though, since it’s fresh in my mind:

    A while back I turned in one of the books in one of my series. I could swear there were no typos. A while later I got the copyedit ms and discovered yeah, there were one or two. Fixed them.

    Another while ago I got the galleys for that same book, and guess what? New errors. Errors I know for a fact I had not introduced, as I could compare them to my original ms. I don’t want to sound like I blame the typesetter, because I don’t; I’m just saying, not all errors always belong to the writer, although as Kelley said they are our responsibility.

    Galleys can be rather difficult to read, at least for me. And yes, it’s a book that’s already been copyedited, so you’d expect very few errors.

    I read every word of that galley twice. Do I believe I caught every error? Hell, yes.

    Can I guarantee I did? No. No, because I am only human. Because whomever typeset that ms is also only human. Because my editor is only human. Because we’re all only human.

    My goal is to make every one of my books perfect. I work as hard as I can to do so, and I do that because I do care, very much. Not just about every single reader. but about language itself.

  53. Janicu
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 12:04:36

    I will allow an occasional typo (frequency is a factor!) that could easily slide past a spell checker, like lamp instead of lamb. It just really bugs me when something that IS NOT A WORD that should have been found with a simple spell check program gets past.

  54. Angelia Sparrow
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 12:06:41

    I like books error-free. So far, I’ve never encountered one.
    My copy of Gone with the Wind (Avon printing 1980) has a whole PARAGRAPH misplaced. My Burroughs’ Mars books frequently have transposed sentences. There’s an editor at Leisure who seemingly doesn’t know the difference between your and you’re, since that error crops up in every novel i’ve bought from them.

    My own books? They have their problems. But at least I never “light the censors.” However, one pub has a house style that changes “wracked” to “racked,” which was wrong for the sentence. We used “wracked.” They “fixed” it. They also have issues with correctly used commas, so there aren’t nearly as many as there should be.

    “Should of” makes me NUTS, and I see it more and more.

  55. K. Z. Snow
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 12:16:39

    But what constitutes “error-free” writing?

    Some people would argue that what I just did — begin a sentence with a conjunction — is a no-no. The same people might think letting a fragment stand is horrific. Granted, these are elements of style, but plenty of grammatical hardliners view them as unacceptable.

    I fully agree that egregious errors need to be caught and corrected. I also believe occasional typos are bound to escape notice. What matters most to me is that the author’s command of the language is obviously sound, the editors and proofers have obviously done their jobs, and the final product allows for a smooth read.

    However, I’m willing to bet the majority of readers either don’t notice or don’t care how well-written or -proofread a book is. The educational system, at least in this country, is turning out citizens with remarkably poor language skills and little regard for such skills.

  56. Miss_Thing
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 12:19:43

    Oh, this is such a hot button for me. As someone who does proofing and the occasional bit of copy-editing as part of my job, I selected “books should be perfect.” I agree with JulieB – lowering expectations is never a good thing. However, typos happen. I’ve certainly missed my share!

    What drives me insane is when I come across repeated grammatical errors or misspellings of a particular word, i.e., “diety” instead of “deity.” One mistake I can ignore, but more than that tends to pull me out of the story. It’s the same with continuity errors. It frustrates me enormously when I spend $24.95 or more on a hardcover and it looks like the book hasn’t seen an editor. Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy! I’ve heard that certain authors don’t allow their books to be edited (Laurell K. Hamilton was one example) and I’m not sure how true that is, but I’ll stop reading an author if I see a consistent pattern of typos or sloppy editing. To me, it indicates a lack of respect for their work and the end user – the reader.

    My $.02.

    P.S. “should of” instead of “should’ve” is one of my pet peeves – and don’t get me started on text-speak. Yes, I am a cranky old lady. :-)

  57. Mary G
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 12:40:28

    Six months ago my answer would have been different. I read a lot & I do notice errors. I don’t want to notice errors but my brain “trips” over them. I’ve become more tolerant of how they happen since I’ve been beta reading but publishers should strive to deliver error free product. The bottom line is that the author’s name is on the product & it’s where “the buck stops” to a reader. As you can see from some of the responses, the MS passes through many hands & the author is not the last one to “touch” it. On the other hand, if I’ve spent $15.00 CDN on a book & now I know how many eyes have seen it, it can be annoying to think how many people missed the same errors.

  58. ardeatine
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 12:55:07

    Perhaps someone at Samhain could read through their Fictionwise blurbs after upload? They’ve suddenly developed a tendency to have random ? inserted. Example…

    It’s a good plan?until …. independently wealthy?and a

  59. Moriah Jovan
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 12:58:37


    It's a good plan?until …. independently wealthy?and a

    I probably shouldn’t speak for Samhain, as I am not affiliated with it in any way, but that’s most likely an HTML coding error, and is probably not Samhain’s problem, but Fictionwise’s for not checking how its special characters render.

  60. Caligi
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:02:32

    That’s just poor web design on Fictionwise’s account.

  61. Courtney Milan
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:02:39

    Some people would argue that what I just did -‘ begin a sentence with a conjunction -‘ is a no-no.

    Yes, and some people also think it’s not a paragraph unless it has a topic sentence and three supporting sentences. Those people are wrong.

    The Chicago Manual of Style (online subscription is $20/year, folks–and worth every penny) has this to say about the practice of beginning a sentence with a conjunction:

    5.191 Beginning a sentence with a conjunction

    There is a widespread belief-‘one with no historical or grammatical foundation-‘that it is an error to begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but, or so. In fact, a substantial percentage (often as many as 10 percent) of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions. It has been so for centuries, and even the most conservative grammarians have followed this practice. Charles Allen Lloyd's 1938 words fairly sum up the situation as it stands even today: “Next to the groundless notion that it is incorrect to end an English sentence with a preposition, perhaps the most wide-spread of the many false beliefs about the use of our language is the equally groundless notion that it is incorrect to begin one with ‘but' or ‘and.' As in the case of the superstition about the prepositional ending, no textbook supports it, but apparently about half of our teachers of English go out of their way to handicap their pupils by inculcating it. One cannot help wondering whether those who teach such a monstrous doctrine ever read any English themselves.”

    You can never produce a piece of work that everyone agrees is error-free. That doesn’t mean you can’t produce work that is error-free (or that you should give up trying).

    I have worked in a zero-error-tolerance environment before. It is possible to produce text without errors. It takes many, many passes–and the rule is that every time you correct an error, both you and a second set of trained eyes looks at your correction to make sure that you have not introduced an error in your correction. It’s simply not possible for one person to error correct on her own, and any process that has, at the final stage, one last person correcting errors is going to make mistakes.

    If you find a book with one or three errors in it, rest assured that it’s probably not the result of lack of care by any one person at any particular stage. It’s the result of lack of stages of review.

  62. Suze
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:05:39

    so many things that are wrong look all right to me now from seeing them repeatedly

    This! I used to be a good speller, before I became a secretary and had to type up a zillion documents written by engineers, who tend not to be good spellers. I think people know how to spell things, and write things, based on years of experience READING things that have been spelled and written correctly. It makes me sad when I see things that are egregiously wrong getting published, because that wrong stuff then becomes the basis for the experience of new readers, who don’t know that what they’re reading is wrong.

    If you ever want to see me go into a mindless, frothing rant, show me a product with cutsie spelling like Kozy Korner Kafe at the right stage in my menstrual cycle. Sell tickets, it’ll be fun.

    My biggest pet peeve, though, is homonyms. Their, they're, there, it's, its, to, too, two, were, we're, hare, hair, etc.

    Hallelujah, sister! Hear, hear! And no, I absolutely do NOT mean here, here!

    Like so very many others, I voted for perfection, knowing that we can’t achieve it. I’m okay with the occasional typo, and gods know I commit several a day myself. But if there’s some grammatical, spelling, or punctuation error on every other page? Bleh, I feel dirty and cheated. And if it’s an error in which the author is using the wrong word, or clearly doesn’t understand the meaning of the word they used–AND nobody caught the error–erg. Fail. That’s not typos slipping through, that’s complete failure to edit.

    (Garderobe is not a type of armoire, for those of you who are curious.)

  63. geek-girl
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:12:09

    The errors I see in ebooks are mostly OCR errors, which can and should be fixed. The errors Jane describes in this post are pretty much all errors introduced in the OCR process.

    I do proofreading as part of my job for a small company. Nearly all brochures, newsletters, and other promotional material are produced in both electronic and print format. Each format is proofread, because they are separate items and errors can be introduced at any time in the process. It is twice the work, yes, but we do it, because we want to present ourselves to potential buyers as well as we can. When I see such errors, they jump off the page at me and are very annoying.

    Occasionally I do run across fairly obvious errors that were inserted by the author and not caught by the editors. “I” as an object pronoun, for example: “It was clear to the Duke and I that our love would be forever.” That object pronoun should be “me.” This mistake is slipping into books with increasing commonness and IT BUGS I ME. Such errors should be fixed as well, but perhaps is too much to hope for.

    One or two typos certainly can slip in. But OCR errors throughout the book, and continual grammatical mistakes, should not be tolerated. There is a difference.

  64. Anne Douglas
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:13:10

    @Suze: (Garderobe is not a type of armoire, for those of you who are curious.)

    And chaise lounge – it’s chaise longue or lounge chair not a mash up of the two.

  65. ardeatine
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:14:18

    Why don’t all publishers have that problem with Fictionwise, then?

    The point I was making wasn’t the formatting errors in the blurbs, but the fact that no one, not even the author appears to have noticed them. Anyone here associated with Samhain, you need to mail Fictionwise and tell them there’s a problem with some of your blurbs. Should be an easy fix.

    I look at all my publisher copy when it appears on Fictionwise, or any distribution outlet to make sure it’s rendering correctly.

  66. Sandy James
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:17:52

    If we’re throwing out pet peeves, one of mine is “suppose to” when it should be “supposed to.”

  67. Moriah Jovan
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:24:44


    the fact that no one, not even the author appears to have noticed them.

    Why would you assume that? It’s possible they noticed but are powerless to fix it themselves because they have to wait on Fictionwise’s convenience, which isn’t, well, very convenient (or swift).

    Yes, I know their names are on the covers, but authors have almost no power over the final product, be it digital publishing or traditional NY print publishing.

  68. Moriah Jovan
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:29:30

    @Anne Douglas:

    And chaise lounge – it's chaise longue or lounge chair not a mash up of the two.

    In North America, “chaise lounge” is perfectly acceptable.

    From World Wide Words:

    And it's an old error -‘ I've found examples in American literature back into the 1850s. In the issue of Scribners Monthly for April 1876 appears this sentence, which suggests the confusion had even by then become common enough to need noting: “This particular ‘chaise longue', or lounge, is said to be the one on which George Fox slept”.

    Quite a bit of our grammar and structure are reminiscent of the last vestiges of Middle English that the earliest immigrants from England who landed here still spoke. For instance, we still say “gotten,” where, in Britain, as I understand, it has evolved to “got.”

  69. Sandy James
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:35:51


    It's possible they noticed but are powerless to fix it themselves

    For some reason, when my books were uploaded to Amazon, the cover art only came through on the Kindle versions and not the paperbacks. Yeah, I know. Silly thing to fuss over. But it meant a lot to me. I had to jump through about a million hoops to get it fixed. Yes, we care! And yes, we sometimes are powerless to fix things.

  70. Moriah Jovan
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:38:03

    @Sandy James:

    Yeah, I know. Silly thing to fuss over. But it meant a lot to me. I had to jump through about a million hoops to get it fixed. Yes, we care! And yes, we sometimes are powerless to fix things.

    No, it’s not a silly thing at all. It reflects badly on the author and quite often one wants to crawl in a hole and die of embarrassment, only made worse by the fact that one is powerless to fix it.

  71. Sandy James
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:45:16


    No, it's not a silly thing at all.

    Thanks for that! My hubby says I’m too anal retentive for my own good, especially about my books. :-)

  72. ReacherFan
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 13:49:45

    New Concepts is a big offender in this area. Mostly, they use the WRONG WORD. Sole, for soul is a persistent error. I went hysterical laughing at “imminently well qualified”. Let us not forget awkward sentence structure that stops the reader in their tracks till they stop and decipher the meaning. GAH!

    I can’t spell worth a damn and I’ve never been much of a grammarian, but jeeze, how obvious do errors get before someone corrects them? And lest anyone think this unique to ebooks, they’ve crept into hardcovers, even bestsellers, as well as the paperback market. Even the print quality and paper quality have diminished. Books that have splotches from ink drops, paper so thing you see the shadow of the printing on the reverse side, and so fragile the edges tear just holding the book. Trade paperbacks are as guilty as mass market – even more so.

    It just feels like publishers disrespect their customers. Every time they cut another corner and downgrade quality of every aspect of the product they produce is another slap in the face. The downward spiral has been especially obvious the last 2-3 years. I can really see the difference between print books that are a few years old and those produced today. And publishers wonder why they keep loosing customers!

  73. Jody
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 14:21:56

    Maybe it’s not possible for a book to be perfect, but can’t people at least TRY?

    I’ve stopped reading books because of errors. Some were obviously the authors’, some were inexcusably shoddy editing; it didn’t matter whose they were. I question the story if there are huge numbers of technical errors. I can’t suspend disbelief.

  74. Elizabeth
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 14:26:36

    I don’t mind a few errors. I do get really ticked with exactly the type of error you point out. I can tell that it came in the process of producing an ebook.

    The worst? I have bought a few books where the process somehow left out ALL quotation marks. By the third book, I complained, and somebody did something about it; I got a revised version.

    If there is any way to improve this, I would so happy.

    Caveat: My mother was an English teacher, one of my brothers is an English prof. But I write for public speaking, not for print, so I won’t blame (or credit) my family.

  75. Lynne Connolly
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 14:30:01

    “Here here” and “chaise lounge” drive me mental. However often you repeat something, it doesn’t always make it right. It sounds uneducated, a mash-up that isn’t one thing or the other. Also discrete and discreet.

  76. Babs
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 14:33:13

    One or two…no big deal. But error after error or really really glaring ones that should have been caught in the editing process really irk me. The latest Lora Leigh, Maverick, was a bountiful treasure of errors — so much so that I stopped reading for oh, characters or hot sexxoring and started marking the errors with post it notes! Best was a character being called by the wrong name at the end of the book…

  77. Moriah Jovan
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 14:35:34

    @Lynne Connolly:

    However often you repeat something, it doesn't always make it right. It sounds uneducated, a mash-up that isn't one thing or the other.

    In general, I agree with you. But considering that in the U.S. “chaise lounge” has been mashing up since 1850, I think we’re beyond the statute of grammar limitations.

    It was only recently I learned that “whinge” is actually a word AND that it isn’t a synonym for “whine.” It’s a British thing, I get it. Cannot the same be said for U.S. things?

  78. Estara
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 14:36:23

    I picked *can have a few errors*, but my emphasis is on FEW! I bought Beyond Heaving Bosoms as an ebook at BooksonBoard shortly after it was released and – apart from the fact that the images included weren’t scaled and the text referring to them was rarely where the pictures showed up – there were so many spelling errors that it really took me out of the book, considering how few mistakes the Smart Bitches make on their own website and how intelligent their discourse is.

    But if it’s only a few mistakes and recognisably the type-setter’s fault for using they’re instead of there, etc. I don’t much mind.

    @Lynne Connolly:

    Having said that, major structural changes also increase errors. I just cut 20,000 words out of “Eyton,” because it was far too long,

    *is sad* I love Richard and Rose, the more words the better!

    @everyone: To keep things in perspective and for the fun of it, have a look at Taylor Mali’s “The The Impotence of Proofreading” on Youtube:

  79. JulieB
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 14:38:16

    Best was a character being called by the wrong name at the end of the book…

    As long as that didn’t happen during the hot sexxoring. Just sayin’ ;-)

  80. Ros
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 14:42:46

    @Sandy James: Also ‘use to’ instead of ‘used to’. I just can’t get my head round why people would make those mistakes. It’s as if the past tense is becoming a thing of the past. :)

  81. Sandy James
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 14:48:36


    Also ‘use to' instead of ‘used to'. I just can't get my head round why people would make those mistakes. It's as if the past tense is becoming a thing of the past. :)

    I think people try to write the way they speak. A person doesn’t always use perfect diction, so “used to” sounds like “use to.” Hard to say both a D then a T. Flimsy excuse, but…

    This may sound odd, but I always circle errors I find in books. I think it helps train me to spot errors in my own. And I find them everywhere, even in books by my favorite authors.

  82. Renda
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 15:07:15

    Being a court reporter who hears the “text” when I write it down, reads the text while cleaning it up and then reading it a third time in final, I know there is no way I could ever produce a perfect transcript. I certainly understand those errors getting through. Knowing what you are supposed to be seeing can often prevent you from seeing the reality. I also worked summers at my uncle’s graphics art studio and often proofed the professional typesetter’s work after the production manager read it. The production manager was multi-lingual and sometimes missed stuff, like “papier” instead of “paper” was one she missed often, so you would think she would be hyper sensitive to it; I certainly was.

    That being said, sometimes the amount/types of errors are so egregious I wonder if anyone read it at all before it hit the streets.
    I, too, read with a red pen in my hand with some books when I notice that the mistakes are piling on. Don’t know why. I just do. Sometimes the red can really be startling. Yes, it does take me out of the story; but sometimes in some books the unintended humor/errors makes it more interesting than the actual text.

  83. CourtneyLee
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 15:08:38


    Courtney Lee, I agree on people not paying attention to words that are pronounced the same but are spelled differently. Except those are not homonyms, they are called homophones. :) Homonyms are words that are spelled and pronounced alike but have different meanings.

    *hangs head in shame* Oh, the irony…

    Thanks for that, GrowlyCub. I kept loking at my comment thinking something was off, but couldn’t place it! LOL

  84. Anon76
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 15:08:57

    Errors suck. They drive everyone crazy in the whole process of putting out a book, and then more so if the error is found once the book is released.

    However…I do wonder when it comes to the digital end of the process (talking formatting and the like, and perhaps even the odd replacement of wording) whether it boils down to the author and/or editor not having the ability to review every format for errors. Not that the fact they aren’t provided with the book in all its formats, but the fact they cannot open and read the books in certain specific formats.

    I, for one, would be at a loss if I had an ebook released in six formats. I know for a fact I wouldn’t be able to open a couple of those files to recheck them. I’m a techno wash-out, yet it doesn’t mean I don’t care about my readers. Nor do I think the editor doesn’t care.

    I’m actually finding it to be one of those “painful” growth type of things. Become a digital wiz, or back out of the arena.

    And (yes I started a sentence with “and”) another point is that every publisher chooses what set of rules they wish to follow. Some strictly follow the CMoS, while others pick and choose portions of that and add in their own preferences. What’s a girl to do?

    Sheesh, and that was my soapbox moment. Back to your regular programming.

  85. Moriah Jovan
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 15:17:57


    another point is that every publisher chooses what set of rules they wish to follow.

    I do know that one house style specifies that “alright” be used instead of “all right.” I’m not a fan of that specification.

  86. CourtneyLee
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 15:28:25


    Courtney Lee, I agree on people not paying attention to words that are pronounced the same but are spelled differently. Except those are not homonyms, they are called homophones. :) Homonyms are words that are spelled and pronounced alike but have different meanings.

    *hangs head in shame* Oh, the irony…

    Thanks for that, GrowlyCub. I kept looking at my comment thinking something was off, but couldn’t place it! LOL

  87. rebyj
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 15:37:47

    It really depends on how much I spend for a book.
    2.99 – 4.99 if there are a few errors no big deal.
    If I shell out 14.99 -24.99 there better not be so many errors that I regret spending THAT much money out of my monthly budget! Not that I ever bother to return a book. It’s too much trouble. I just delete if ebook, take to used book store for trade if paperback and never buy from that publisher/author again until I forget I was not happy with their products.

  88. Suze
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 15:47:50

    It was only recently I learned that “whinge” is actually a word AND that it isn't a synonym for “whine.” It's a British thing, I get it. Cannot the same be said for U.S. things?

    Yes, and this becomes an issue when we start publishing globally instead of nationally, or even locally. When does it cease to be bad grammar and start to be a different dialect?

    As a Canadian who has hurt the feelings of Newfoundlanders because of this very problem, it hits close to home. “I goes there and does this” is apparently a legitimate sentence in Newfanese. Which is apparently a legitimate English dialect.

    I TRY not to be a judgmental asshole, but sometimes I can’t help myself. Especially when my hormones are out of whack. Or wack. Ack!

  89. Marina
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 15:56:03

    Long ago I worked in an office that produced scientific reports and wow, if you think editing a novel is difficult, try tidying up the deathless prose of math boffins speaking geek. Those reports went through months, sometimes years of editorial nit picking and re-writes but invariably made it to the printing press with more than a few boo-boos intact – including one memorable publication that had a glaring spelling error on the cover.

    So while I’d rather buy perfection, editorially speaking, I’m fairly certain it’s not going to happen as long as all those goofy humans and evil computers are involved in the process.

    On another level, the entire publishing world is going through the Apocalypse as we speak so I have a difficult time getting all shocked and outraged over a few typos. Yes, they’re annoying but something like DRM is infinitely more damaging and dangerous to both the reader and the industry. I’m happy to read anything the DearAuthors choose but it’s far more entertaining to see you all whacking away at the bigger targets.

  90. Anonymous
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 16:02:41

    I find it amusing that the many, many people, though, who complain about errors could not produce a perfect product themselves. For instance, I had a reader complain about a mistake in one of my books, and her e-mail was riddled with misspellings.

    I understand a book having a few errors in it as, though we strive for perfection, we’re just not going to achieve it. That doesn’t mean we haven’t tried or we don’t care. It just means we missed the error.

    Mistakes are made. In one of my books, the wrong author’s name was used in the biography. Yes, I grumbled and reported it to my publisher. In the end, my friends and I laughed about it because they now call me by that author’s name. It’s just living proof that we’re all human.

    I’m reading a book right now by a major author with a major publishing house. I’ve found several errors in the first 120 pages, most of which are missing quotations and the like. It doesn’t stop me from reading the book. I simply notice them and keep reading.

    I agree with the comment made earlier that if one error in 120,000 words ruins the book for you, it’s time to find something else to do besides read. (Paraphrased)

    Honestly, missing the insertion of a comma in even 75,000 pages is not that big of a deal to me. It’s easy to miss even when you have six sets of eyes reviewing it.

    Just my take!

  91. Throwmearope
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 16:24:56

    There is a story, probably apocryphal, about Winston Churchill. A teacher wrote to him asking him to emphasize to her class the importance of correct grammar. Her pet peeve was ending a sentence with a preposition. (Never use a preposition to end a sentence with.)

    Winston Churchill wrote back: “Madam, this is the exact sort of nonsense up with which I am fed.”

    Nonetheless, I use to proofread for a living a bizillion years ago, and typos drive me absolutely nuts. See, I know how hard it is, but does that mean you stop trying? Not to say I was perfect, I’d catch stuff later that I’d missed in the first 40 reads.

    Worst ever was a book by JAK about seances, and instead of the accent aigu over the first e, they printed out the Microsoft code for add an accent aigu over that e, would you please. So it read something like szazeance, instead of the word. Of course, the typo appeared at least twice on every page. I counted.

  92. Anion
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 16:39:49

    Throwmearope, I’ve always heard that one as: “That is the sort of English up with which I will not put.” :-)

    I’ve been thinking of that story all day!

  93. jmc
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 16:56:24


    I would say the difference between the error(s) in your book and in the reader’s email comes down to two related things. First, for most readers, there is an (erroneous, perhaps) expectation that a book that has been published has gone through several layers of editing, and will be free of glaring errors. An implied warranty of readability, if you will. Second, the reader paid for your book and had a right to expect a certain level of competence; presumably when s/he wrote to you, she did not hold herself out as a professional editor or writer, nor did you pay her for her time/writing.

    With respect to a single error ruining a 120,000 word book…well, your mileage may vary.

  94. Lynne Connolly
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 17:09:44

    Churchill is said to have written, “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.” But there’s no proof he actually did. He wasn’t above claiming a good story or two.
    Chaise longue or chaise lounge – it makes my teeth grate, especially when used in a historical. I suppose we all have our Rubicons and that’s mine. The 1850 recording isn’t for “chaise lounge,” it’s for “lounge” instead of “chaise longue.” And whoever used it was a ass (and that’s in Dickens!) I’ll continue to put red circles around it in narrative – in dialogue it’s all bets are off.

  95. Castiron
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 17:11:33

    Speaking with my employee-of-publisher hat on:

    Ideally, books should be perfect, and the publisher’s goal should be books free of typos.

    In real life, errors happen, even when the copyeditor and the author and the proofreader have looked at the text. (I still remember the incident ten years ago where the author’s name was misspelled on the spine of the hardcover — and everyone, including the author, had missed the error on the proof. We ate that one and reprinted; fortunately it was a small print run!)

    In the best-practice real world, the publisher should correct errata and fix them on reprint (assuming there is a reprint), or fix the ebook as soon as possible. Depending on the ebook format, fixing errors may involve enough hassle that it’s worth waiting a couple months and then correcting everything at once, but there’s no reason not to do it at some point. Same with POD; some POD printers charge when you upload a corrected file, so the publisher may again want to wait until they’ve collected enough errata, but once a critical mass is collected, there’s no reason not to fix it.

    In the real real world, more and more publishers are cutting back on proofreading and even copyediting to save costs, so it wouldn’t surprise me that errors are more prevalent.

  96. Lynne Connolly
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 17:12:24

    Estara – I’m thinking of putting some of the words I cut into a free read or two!

  97. Estara
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 17:24:32

    @Lynne Connolly: Wohoo! Like your other side stories? Nifty. Whatever you do, I’m happy to look forward to Eyton.

  98. K. Z. Snow
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 17:32:23

    Here’s a suggestion: editors should be more discriminating about the manuscripts they accept. Scores of writers who evince crappy language skills have had their work published.

  99. Kaetrin
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 19:03:55

    I voted for “perfect” but I realise that may be an impossible dream.

    I am a card holding member of the Word Police (specialising in the use of apostrophes) but I make mistakes and typos regularly.

    I’d like to think that major errors get picked up in the editing process. I do notice spelling errors/typos and I can forgive a few but there are some which throw me out of the story and/or are just too much. (Sadly, I can’t think of any examples right now.)

    So, I guess, for me, “perfect” means a few little typos are okay but a few big mistakes are not…

    (I so hope the spelling and grammar above is correct!)

  100. ~B
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 20:52:09

    @ Lynne Connolly: Love your stuff and Richard & Rose are great. If you need help formatting those free reads into various ebook formats (Mobi, ePub, etc.) shoot me an email (anemicoak at yahoo) and I’ll be happy to do it for you.


  101. meganm
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 21:05:37

    Long time lurker, first time commenter.

    Most errors don’t bother me in a print book. I really don’t “see” very many spelling or grammar issues because I can read over or between those. I tend to see more glaring errors in the e-book category (and I hate to generalize that way because I love both formats, but I see what I see). It might be because I edit on screen so much of my day that I catch it more often in an e-book. I’m like BevQB with those first/last letter tests and can read the paragraph fine so I guess I just miss those problems that drive others crazy.

    What I really dislike seeing is printing errors- not editing so much but, poor printing, like faded text on a page or print that just disappears on one side of the page. So I have to “extrapolate” the first letters or first word of every sentence. That really pulls me out of a story.

    I work in the print industry (book publishing, but scholastic, not novels) and print quality is the cornerstone of our business. That’s why it drives me nuts to see poor printing on a book I paid full retail price for and takes me out of the story and inhibits my enjoyment of the journey.

  102. Roxie
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 21:36:37

    I can understand a few typos; it annoys me, but I try not to get too bent out of shape about it. However, when I start to see errors every few pages, I get irritable.

    There’s a particular phrase I’ve noticed a lot lately, and have been wondering if I’m wrong in thinking it’s incorrect. Maybe y’all can tell me. “You’ve got another think coming.” Shouldn’t this be “thing”? I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen this.

  103. Suze
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 22:07:40

    “You've got another think coming.” Shouldn't this be “thing”?

    In my opinion, it’s “think”. No, it’s not grammatically good, but it’s what people say. Properly, I think it should be “thought”, but it’s “think”.

    It’s one of those things that you can say (usually when you’re threatening your offspring), or include in dialogue, but certainly not in narrative.

  104. Robin
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 22:59:07

    IMO it’s simple: professionally published work should be an exemplar. It should not matter whether readers notice or care about errors; professional publishers should care *because they’re in the business of writing* and should strive to represent the best editing possible, be that copyediting or general/line editing.

  105. MaryK
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 23:11:21

    I don’t mind a few errors because everybody makes them no matter how careful they are; BUT I don’t expect a lot of them, and I prefer that they not be basic errors.

  106. hapalochlaena
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 23:11:36


    There's a particular phrase I've noticed a lot lately, and have been wondering if I'm wrong in thinking it's incorrect. Maybe y'all can tell me. “You've got another think coming.” Shouldn't this be “thing”? I've lost track of how many times I've seen this.

    That’s actually the second part of a two-part expression, i.e. “If you thought [x], then you’ve got another think coming”.

  107. Agnès
    Nov 08, 2009 @ 23:43:57

    Most errors will slide right by me, but some won’t and will make me loose the thread of the story. It is impossible to know which will be which beforehand.

    So even if I know that a few errors are pretty much unavoidable, I did vote for perfection. While unattainable by mere mortals it should remain what we strive for.

  108. SAO
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 01:25:22

    I voted for perfection. Actually a typo or two doesn’t really bother me, but too often, recently, I’ve seen too many typos and I get the impression the book has been rushed out the door. It’s part of a pattern of authors that I like writing too many books, some of which aren’t very good. Or publishers like Harlequin, publishing too many books, too many of which aren’t good enough.

    And typos that could be caught by a spell checker are just inexcusable.

  109. mina kelly
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 05:22:55

    I have never heard “You’ve got another think coming”, even as a second part of a sentence. Maybe it’s a UK/US thing, but it’s always been “You’ve got another thing coming.” “Think” is a verb, not a noun, which is what the sentence structure demands; it might work as “thought”, but that’s definitely not in the original phrase.

    The one that really bugs me is “I could care less.” Out loud you might be able to throw the right amount of sarcasm behind it to pull it off, but written it has to be “I couldn’t care less” or it doesn’t make sense.

    I voted for perfect, because in an ideal world books would be. They’re not, but I think if you don’t aim for perfect – if you accept a few errors right off the bat – then even more erros will be introduced. Incorrect word usages gets me the most, especially homophones. I’ll accept more errors in dialogue, since many people don’t follow strict grammatical rules when speaking, but I feel the body of the text should be stricter.

    I’ve learnt to swallow a lot of UK/US stuff, and I suspect I’ve swallowed a lot that would be errors in either country, just through repeated exposure, but at the end of the day if it’s a UK print then at the very least the spellings ought to be altered to fit. And heaven forbid a US author set a book in this country and then use Americanisms for British characters! That’s just poor research.

    Format errors are a real pain, especially if it’s consistent, but that is something that can only appear after all hoops have been jumped through. Best anyone can do is report it and wait for the reprint.

  110. hapalochlaena
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 06:37:23

    I think the expression makes sense because the double occurrence of think/thought serves to amplify the speaker’s assertion that the respondent is making an unwarranted assumption, e.g. “If you think I’m going to post bail for you, you’ve got another think coming”.

    It is not grammatical, no; but colloquialisms aren’t necessarily so.

  111. Lynne Connolly
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 06:43:15

    It’ “think,” as in “If you think that, you’ve got another think coming, young lady!” I heard it enough in my childhood to be sure on that one!
    I’m British, and it’s part of my youth, and I’ve only heard “thing” recently. If that comes into use, since it’s colloquial anyway, I don’t have any objections, only it doesn’t make sense in the original context. It needs to mean something else, probably something good.
    Yes, “I could care less” is nonsensical and stupid, but people do say it, so in conversation, it’s okay, I suppose. However when writing a historical you have to be really careful with these relatively new sayings.
    I’m lucky enough to have American editors for my work. I say “lucky” because I often write American characters in my books and it’s amazing what I miss, especially since I do a lot of research and have beta readers to help me. I know how British people talk, but sometimes a turn of phrase (“come a cropper” springs to mind) marks a character out as British. So it would be nice to see British editors for British historical romances. It’s not impossible, Mills and Boon/Harlequin do it. Then we’d have fewer “gotten”s and “in back”s and even “yard” for “garden.”

  112. HeatherK
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 07:12:45

    To err is human, and I think there is no truer saying. Humans are fallible. Authors are humans, though I can understand how easy it is to forget. Editors are human. Heck, even computers are human in a way considering it was a human who made the parts and created the programming.

    My point? Mistakes happen. It’s part of life. So, I guess that goes without saying that I’m for a few mistakes, because I honestly feel they are unavoidable for a variety of reasons. One reason being what reads as perfectly acceptable to one will press the pet peeve button for another. I know, that doesn’t really qualify as an error, but to the one who’s button was pushed it may feel like an error. The point is, personal taste also comes into factor where reading is concerned.

    However, some mistakes aren’t as acceptable as others. Segments of a sentence doubled up being doubled up being one example. (Mistake intentional there just to show what I was talking about.) Drives me nuts when I see that happen, but as a rule, I can overlook most errors or differences in personal taste.

    And though we strive for perfection, there is no such thing. Perception and all that comes into play here, so what’s perfect for one would be extremely (or at least partially) flawed to another.

  113. Moriah Jovan
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 07:16:28


    From the Washington State errors website:

    Here's a case in which eagerness to avoid error leads to error. The original expression is the last part of a deliberately ungrammatical joke: “If that's what you think, you've got another think coming.”

  114. Jody
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 07:41:07

    Another annoying misuse that makes me nuts is “irregardless.” Is “irregardless” even a word? THAT one makes me come up out of my chair, and yes, I have seen it.

    A former boss frequently said she was being “appeased of the situation” and if I ever see it on a printed page, there will be an immediate book hurling followed by burning.

    Publishers, you are warned!

    Typos are one thing, but ignorant malapropisms are something else.

  115. mina kelly
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 08:05:42

    @Moriah and co.
    Curses, the OED is on your side too. At least “…another thing coming” dates back 90 years, so I’d imagine that falls into acceptable use now too (though it looks like it was made popular by Only Fools and Horses more recently). And it does make sense (i.e. “If you thought you could get away with that, you’ve got another thing [a punishment] coming”). I suppose “I could care less” does too, as long as you’re actually intending to state the opposite of the original phrase!

  116. Kelly L.
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 12:43:45

    I voted “the book can have a few errors.” I almost always notice spelling mistakes; I blame a childhood as a spelling bee champion. I hate it when I make typos, and I am sometimes far too anal about other people’s typos. But if I expected books to be typo-free, I’d never have anything to read. They always distract me a little, but if there are only a few in the book, I can get back into the story without trouble. Ditto with grammar. I have read books that have enough SPAG (spelling, punctuation, and grammar) mistakes to be distracting.

    Incubus Dreams was particularly egregious in that regard, and yes, it bothers me more when it’s a big pricey hardcover. If the publishers want me to shell out the big bucks, they can pay a little more attention to the finished product. I also expect to find fewer errors in a book printed by a big-name publisher.

    Continuity errors really drive me nuts. To me, this breaks the reader’s trance more than SPAG errors. There’s nothing like having the protag’s history/eye color/etc. change midscene to bring it sadly home that none of this is real.

  117. Patricia Rice
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 16:04:52

    Since I work with Belgrave House, I understand the source of some of those errors, and it’s certainly not because the publisher or the author doesn’t care. Many of these books are old typewritten books that have to be scanned into the computer. The scan produces some hilarious results. The editor runs through it to catch the worst ones, and I try to catch any others in my books. I’m certain other authors are as careful. But I have to admit that reading on my computer, even with enlarged type, isn’t the same as reading paper for me. I may miss errors like backward quotes or periods. At the same time, I’m quaking at the old-fashioned word usage and headhopping, which are worse offenses in my mind, and I wrote the things. (Thank goodness for computers so we could actually edit our writing without cut and paste!)

    I don’t read my print books after they come out, but I do wonder how well the constant editing and copyediting with Trackchanges comes out in the end product. I proof the printed version and they seem remarkably clean, but I’m human. After a tiring day at the computer, or riding in my car or a plane (since proofs invariably arrive before a trip), I simply may not be focusing as well as I should.

    But grammar errors and misspellings really shouldn’t get through.

  118. JenB
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 11:51:45

    Perfect doesn’t exist in publishing. Show an editor a [published] book you deem flawless, and she’ll point out at least two proofing errors. They might be obscure, but they’ll be there, even after multiple rounds of painful and detailed edits. I guarantee it.

  119. Suze
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 19:17:45

    Is “irregardless” even a word?

    No. And I’m with you, a published work containing such a travesty should be hurled.

    Continuity errors really drive me nuts. To me, this breaks the reader's trance more than SPAG errors.

    Speaking of Anita Blake and continuity errors, in one of the books (can’t remember which, but it was before they went for shyte) Anita lost her car in a violent incident, and then the next day drove out to meet the million-year-old vampire and back home again. Shortly after that, she all of a sudden was missing the car again. Sigh. I empathise, because gods know what you could miss when you switch scenes around in the editing process, but somebody ought to have caught it.

  120. Mischa
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 22:32:16

    I can’t really vote because my answer depends on how much I paid for the book and where I got it from.

    i.e. I’m much more forgiving on a book I got for free straight from an author than I am for one I’ve paid for from a publisher. I’m also much more forgiving of missing punctuation and misspelling errors, as long as they aren’t endemic, than I am of editing errors.

  121. Teresa C
    Nov 11, 2009 @ 20:56:09

    On of my favorite proof errors is in McKenzie’s Pleasure by Linda Howard. In the narative, Barrie’s father (Ambassador Lovejoy) is called by the Admiral’s name, ending up calling him Ambassador Lindley. On one page, you have both an Ambassador Lindley and an Admiral Lindley.

    That error first showed up in Feb 1996, and is still in place in the bundle I bought from FictionWise, published in 2006. The proof error has been in every copy/edition that I have ever seen, audiobook included.

    One thing makes me worry, Laurell K Hamilton stated on her Oct 30 blog entry, that she had

    Added three new lines to the final proofs of Divine Misdemeanors in answer to a query from New York.

    That book is hitting the shelves on Dec 8. How on earth are the publishers going to have the thing printed and shipped in under 6 weeks? How is Brilliance Audio going to record the unabridged audiobook, produce the different versions, and ship to distributors in under 6 weeks?
    To my mind that is just asking for errors.

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