Help! Theirs a Typoo in My Book!

It never fails. You go through your manuscript. You catch the big problems (the six-foot tall bad guy becomes five-foot-one three chapters later), fix the continuity problem (She got married two books ago. What’s a fiancé doing here?), have eagle-eyed copy-editors track down the lingering hints of older sentences and verbs that had switched tenses mid-paragraph.

Your formatted text is perfect. You upload the book. All is well. You download the book. You open to the first chapter. . .

Arrrrrgh!

It’s amazing, really, all the problems I can find once the book is published. This time it was a strange formatting error that had a non-chapter chapter, and some typos that got introduced during revision that I’d managed to miss.

Fixing the typos was easy, once I made note of what and where. I have some readers who are kind enough to send glitch and error catches to me in private, and those were tended to as well.

The formatting problem was more serious. Vellum didn’t want to let me delete the “chapter,” so I had to go to the .docx document, remove the title line that had confused Vellum, and then re-upload that into Vellum. The good news is, when you do that, you don’t lose other formatting. The dedication, afterward, author’s note, and other things stay.

While I was in there, I changed an awkward phrase that had jumped out at me, and tidied up a repeated repeat of a repeated adjective. Then I re-converted to .MOBI, uploaded the edited and repaired edition, and relaxed.

We’re spoiled, those of us who do e-book publishing with places like D2D and the ‘Zon. We don’t have to wait for the print run to discover tyops, and to fix them. Ideally, we wouldn’t have them in the first place, but Murphy was an optimist, and there was a reason the Printer’s Devil existed.

Something eerie, yet Familiar, stalks shadow mages as Lelia Chan deals with an even greater problem: the Halloween retail rush!

16 comments

  1. Yeah, I saw that, but since I can only get a one sentence comment out without a typo on a good day I wasn’t going to complain. I do enjoy your familiar stories,

  2. I’ve got a seventh edition paperback of Jurassic Park sitting on my shelf. Seventh edition print. And yet, there are typos in it. Jurassic Park was a mega-hit, still printed and sold today, but there are still typos in the later editions.

    Usually when discussing editing I bring it up as an example of how vast the task is. A book of just 74,000 words is still going to be around 402,000 characters (numbers grabbed from my in=progress draft of Axtara). That’s 402,000 places to hit a wrong key, and 402,000 individual characters or symbols to be checked. To say nothing about someone slipping in the right word … but the wrong spelling. Or any number of other errors.

    And that’s for a small book. The bigger the book, well … Editing is a herculean task. Errors slip through, even as far as a seventh edition printing. No reader should expect perfection.

    1. And then you get things like the (in)famous duplicated chapter because an author was too big to really edit, and the publisher didn’t pay attention, and surprise!

      I’m grateful that my errors are minor, thus far. *taps wood, rubs rabbit’s foot, pats four-leaf clover* Thus far.

  3. And then there’s the fun of “correcting” typos without introducing other typos. 😉

    Of course, there are the nitpickers who “laugh” at your typos while including typos in their comments. 👿

    By the way, when the subject is typos, it can be “interesting” to try to make a comment without typos yourself. 😆

    Those nasty typos just want to be made. 😉

    1. I’m sure that phenomenon has a name. Never mock spelling or grammar on the Intertubes; it’s almost guaranteed that there will be a mistake in the mocking.

  4. True story.

    I’m one of those who will email authors whose books I have, asking if they would like a list of “errata” that I think I’ve spotted – such being identified and noted on an ebook version.

    Some months later I will want a book I’ve already read as late-night, comfort reading (I know the outcome so I won’t read until sun-up and beyond), and find more typos that I didn’t catch on the first pass!

    Glad I’m not a professional proof-reader!

  5. Typos are merely the written equivalent of a stutter, a provincial pronunciation, or even a frog in the throat requiring someone buy you a drink before continuing.

    Typos that actually change the word jump out more because it no longer fits the context of the sentence. And I’ve occasionally come across whole, multi-page duplications even in hardcopy books.

  6. There’s a story I simply must tell at this juncture…

    Some years ago, a midwestern newspaper editor became so disgusted with the frequency of errors in his publication that he resolved to produce a single article that would be printed completely free of errors. So he sat down and wrote an article about – you guessed it! – the difficulty of eliminating errors from published material.

    The article came to about 600 words, which he proofread several times, each time seining out one or more typos. He then handed it to his wife, who found several more errors. Not to be thwarted in his quest for perfection, he brought the article to an assistant editor, who found three more errors. Finally, they agreed that the article was error-free, and the editor sent it to the printers department for inclusion in the next edition.

    The paper was produced in a three-column format, which was popular at the time. So the printers’editor formatted the article into three columns of roughly 200 words each, and sent the result to the linotypists.

    When the article appeared in the next day’s paper, it developed that linotypists had “pasted up” the article’s third 200-word segment between the first and second ones. Other than that…!

    True story, friends.

    1. Ya’ll are just discovering what software folks have known forever: THERE’S ALWAYS ONE MORE BUG. 😎

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