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Typos in Published Works Options
MiTziGo
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 11:29:05 AM
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Joined: 3/16/2009
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I recently read The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein and thoroughly enjoyed it (two thumbs up), but I was really disappointed to find several typos, including an entire sentence that was accidentally repeated. How many readers find themselves picking out typos (not things done with poetic license but actual spelling and punctuation mistakes the editors/printers missed) when reading? I'm always tempted to contact the publishers and let them know but never have. Has anyone actually done so? And if so, what response did you receive?
Shelley
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 11:41:30 AM
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Joined: 3/28/2009
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Location: South Africa
Do typos in 'intellectual' journals count? Take a look at this (you can ignore the first part about the now ex Mail & Guardian editor as that grieves only us locals): http://news.book.co.za/blog/2009/03/31/media-watch-ferial-haffajee-moves-to-city-press-and-sneak-preview-of-essop-pahads-the-thinker/#comment-15865

I'm not sure whether it's funny or sad; probably both.
risadr
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 12:01:10 PM
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Location: PA, United States
Whenever I find a typo in a published work, I use a highlighter to mark it, and I make a note of the page and paragraph numbers. I have been known to notify publishers, usually via email, and I've gotten a few form letters back in response. Once, the editor-in-chief of a magazine actually acknowledged me in the "corrections" section of the table of contents in the next issue.
Rhondish
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 3:21:07 PM
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I find these "typos" far too often. It is one more check on my list of how we Americans will accept mediocrity at all levels because we have become so lazy! I re-read classics. I just purchased and reread a PB of "Wuthering Heights" with a High School student. We discovered typos that were clearly Spell Check oversites; to for too, for for from, standard items that a good proofreader always catches (I proofread docs from bottom to top, specifically to find this type of error.)I will send this info to the publisher, as Risa did because I cannot understand how typos continue to find their way in books published over a hundred years ago. FYI - the students dog eared copy of the book (it truly could have been the same copy I used when I was in HS) had zero typos.
krmiller
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 5:18:03 PM
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I can't help noticing typos as I read! It never occurred to me to write to the publisher. However, I don't think I've ever noticed errors that are obviously due to spellcheck, at least not in published books. Hmm... maybe next time I read a book with a lot of errors I will write to the publisher.
tfrank
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 6:00:30 PM
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Location: Pennsylvania
I used to notice them everywhere, but I've learned to turn off that editorial part of my brain when I'm reading for pleasure - otherwise, I'd never be ABLE to read for pleasure.

I did once mark up the entire front page of my local paper with a red ink pen. I left proofer's marks and editorial comments all over it and dropped it off, along with my resume, at the newspaper office. Uh, yeah, I never got a call. ;-)
Ahimsa
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 6:03:26 PM
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Location: Lisboa (Portugal)
Hey Risa!

Way to go! I'll start doing the same, even tough I'm Portuguese and live in Portugal. But sometimes the bad proofreading is insulting to the author, and, on the other hand, it's like letting a bad deed goe unpunished, isn´t it?

I feel encouraged to write to the editors. Thanks.
tfrank
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 6:18:29 PM
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Location: Pennsylvania
I will add that copy editors and proofreaders are the M*A*S*H surgeons of the publishing world. If a book is going to sell, it's going to sell regardless of typos, and the employees who do the grunt work on the manuscripts are NEVER given the time to do the jobs properly. A quick pass for each manuscript to clean up the worst of the problems, and then it's on to the next manuscript. And woe to the fool who tries to hold up the process for the sake of quality, because the publisher has to make the publication date or the books don't get to the bookstores on time, which means the bookstores cancel their orders and the publisher loses money.

The real problem isn't that the proofreaders aren't good at their jobs (they probably are), but that publishers commit to dates without any idea of how much work a book will need before it goes to press.

Another problem is that authors are all too often coddled; I know that I've corrected simple things like agreement and tense only to have authors insist the original language be restored. Guess who wins that argument?
Joseph Glantz
Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 9:05:27 AM
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It's been a while since I read it, but Italo Calvino's "If on a Winter's Night A Traveler" examined all the frustrations (and joys) a reader has - including typos. For anyone who likes reading and writing it's a great book.
NicoleR
Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 10:28:45 AM
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I always feel a little sense of accomplishment when I find typos in books, although major ones can be an annoyance.
prolixitysquared
Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 7:59:10 PM
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Location: pennsylvania.
I don't remember finding typos in books when I was younger, but maybe I just wasn't sly enough then to notice them.

I've noticed in the past few years that I catch typos, at least one or a few, in nearly every book I read. At first I was so surprised because I just thought so much more care was put into these works. But then again, if I had that job, I'm sure re-reading hundreds of pages of the same thing over and over would deaden even my best eye for errors at least now and then, if not more frequently.

I always figured that someone out there in the world, maybe closer to the publisher in terms of being in the business, would take care of those errors in later editions or at least bring each discovered mistake to the publisher's attention. I guess it's hard to know unless you go out and buy new editions and read those too.
tfrank
Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2009 7:44:32 AM
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I doubt most of those get made, prolixitysquared. Yes, they could be made - but unless that author ends up insisting on it, it will be forgotten.

It is just not cost effective to put that much work into publishing a book.

On a funnier note, I once had an author call my editor after his book had gone to print and complain that he'd found two mistakes I'd left in the book. My editor laughed and told him I must have done a terrific job.

Two mistakes? The company I worked for was a nonfiction company, which meant that a lot of authors were experts in their fields but not necessarily writers. Their manuscripts would come to us with thousands upon thousands of mistakes - poor sentence structure, nothing parallel, misspellings, words that didn't mean what the author intended, etc. Two mistakes, when I'd had about two weeks to clean that mess up. (We worked on books much longer than that, but after the initial pass it was just a matter of making sure the designer made the corrections. There was no time to go through and look for other mistakes.)
bullit16
Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2009 11:01:20 PM
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We had a local woman, who declared herself an expert on the history of her hometown, self-publish a book about the town, and insisted that our newspaper write a feature about her. She came into the office and basically mocked us. "I don't suppose you know about being a published author," she'd say. When we mentioned that as newspaper writers and editors, we do have our work printed, she replied, "Well ... that's really bottom-of-the-birdcage kind of stuff, isn't it?"
She also refused to give us a free copy of her book, instead making us pay for it.
So we read it ... and found approximately three to five typos on every page, which we happily circled in red pen and mailed the book back to her.
tfrank
Posted: Friday, April 3, 2009 7:35:03 AM
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Joined: 3/16/2009
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Location: Pennsylvania
I love it!

Now, had she paid a vanity press to do actual editing as well as publishing? If so, those three to five typos probably represent dozens of errors she started with.

How rude to insult you - especially when she was utterly dependent on you for publicity. I often just don't understand people.
NicoleR
Posted: Sunday, April 5, 2009 4:29:45 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/16/2009
Posts: 71
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Location: Pennsylvania
bullit16 wrote:
We had a local woman, who declared herself an expert on the history of her hometown, self-publish a book about the town, and insisted that our newspaper write a feature about her. She came into the office and basically mocked us. "I don't suppose you know about being a published author," she'd say. When we mentioned that as newspaper writers and editors, we do have our work printed, she replied, "Well ... that's really bottom-of-the-birdcage kind of stuff, isn't it?"
She also refused to give us a free copy of her book, instead making us pay for it.
So we read it ... and found approximately three to five typos on every page, which we happily circled in red pen and mailed the book back to her.


Way to go, bullit! I'd have done the same thing. Hope she enjoys her slice of humble pie! :)
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