Another great post from Jeanne Leach.
TO ERR IS HUMAN; TO FIND THEM IS ANOTHER STORY
By Jeanne Marie Leach
We’ve all seen them—a glaring typographical error in a well-known author’s book. How embarrassing for the author. Their editor must not be that great, we tell ourselves as we pat ourselves on the back and silently say a prayer of thanks that this has never happened to us.
Well, it has happened to me! Within the first week of the release of my second novel, The Plight of Mattie Gordon, I received a note from none other than the first person I ever mentored. She graciously pointed out to me that on page 45 I had misspelled a word. I couldn’t believe it, so I took out my author copy and there it was, glaring back at me with smug prominence in my new book.
He rode along, lost in his thoughts, Mattie following behind him. A horse’s whiney and a sharp scream behind him jolted him. He turned and saw the black horse fall on top of Mattie.
The horse’s whiney. . .? No! The horse wasn’t whiney; he whinnied!
Alas, my error was there in print for the whole world to see for as long as the book remains on people’s bookshelves. I beat myself up a lot that week. Why hadn’t I found that when I did my many read-throughs? Why hadn’t the professional editor at the publishing house find it?
Truthfully, we are all human. I have often given my best editorial work to a client’s fiction, and to my surprise and dismay, they find something I missed. After as many as five critique partners, a professional editor, and a myriad of passes through a book, we must realize that an occasional error is going to slip through.
We can’t beat ourselves up over it, but we can promise ourselves to do a better job of reading every word one more time before sending it to the publisher. It is best to read the whole book out loud, and you’ll catch more of those erroneous words trying to sneak through. It’s not so much the misspelled words that are the most difficult to find, but rather the words that actually are real words with different meanings from the one you meant to write.
For example:Accept/except Advice/advise Blond/blonde Back up/backup Brake, break Cite/sight/site
For a more comprehensive list of commonly misused words, check out the chapter, Commonly Misused Words on page 91 of Polishing The “PUGS”: Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling Tips for Writers, by Kathy Ide.
And remember to actually read EACH word out loud before sending your manuscript to an editor or agent to catch these sly words.
THAT TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR
It will Happen!
The typographical error is slippery thing and sly,
You can hunt till you are dizzy but it somehow will get by
Till the forms are off the presses. It is strange how still it sleeps;
It shrinks down in a corner, and it never stirs or peeps.
That typograhical error, too small for human eyes
Till the ink iis on the paper, when it grows to mountain size.
The boss just stares with horror, then he grabs his hair and groans;
The copy reader drops his head upon his hands and moans.
The remainder of the issue may be clean as clean can be,
But that typographical error is the only thing you see.