When I did my review for Dara Edmondson’s Compromising Positions back in January on Sanctuary’s Finest, I mentioned the issues I had with the constant typos and grammatical errors. At the time I said I wasn’t sure where to assign the blame for it, and that hasn’t changed.
I’m noticing a continuing trend here, however, and it bothers me quite a bit. Why are there so many typos? Who should take the blame for them? I’m not talking about just misspellings either, but also inconsistencies and plot holes and a big one for me, sentence structure.
I realize the average reader isn’t bothered as much by these things as I am, but I feel it needs to be addressed. Take, for example, a book by one of my favorite authors. Dangerous Tides by Christine Feehan. I read this book in July of last year and put up a
rant post about it then. At the time, I placed the blame on CF, asking, “Does she think I’m too stupid to notice?” But I have to wonder, is it really the authors fault?
I realize that typos, errors, plot holes, whatever are bound to happen. As I’ve said before, shit happens and even when I’m writing something, even if I go back and reread it, there are bound to be mistakes that I missed. I know that these mistakes are mine and mine alone, but I don’t have an editor to read through my things, and I’m not being paid to publish these works. But in the novels I buy, they do. Who’s at fault with the misspellings, errors and plot holes in the books that we read?
The Publisher, Author or the Editors?
The Publishers hire Editors to catch these sorts of things so why are the editors not catching them? It’s one thing when there are just a couple of noticeable spelling errors or what not but if you’re reading a story with more than 3 spelling errors and typo’s every 3 pages, it kind of ruins the story for the reader.
At least for me it does.
Another thing that I’ve noticed is the quality of print books versus eBooks. You won’t catch too many typo’s and errors in a printed book but every single eBook that I’ve read has been riddled with grammatical errors and typo’s. It’s enough to drive me up the wall ten frickin’ times.
I started working on this post several months ago, and I asked that authors, editors and publishers to email me with their thoughts. Of the 30 or so authors who responded, 95% of them said it was the editor’s responsibility to catch them.
One author had this to say:
As far as the typos, if you want to lay the blame on anyone it’s the copy editor. I, along with my sister (who was an English major in college) and my aunt went over my galleys. There’s certainly a possibility that we missed one or two things, but the mistakes should have been minimal.
From what I’ve heard from other Dorchester authors, there should be a revamp of the copy editing department. One author’s book actually had “she stoods”. I would fly to New York to personally choke the person who put “she stoods” in my book. As I make my way in this business, I learn more and more everyday that writing the book was definitely the easiest part.
And yet another:
The editors are paid to EDIT. This means finding things like typos. Yes, the author does get the manuscript back to proofread before it goes to press. However, after reading the same work 20-30 times over, we tend to nearly have it memorized and thus will skim over most typos. We’re counting on editors to find this stuff.
I learned a valuable lesson though, when this blog docked me some major review points for typos. It was a wake-up call for me. I just sold a book to a relatively new Epublisher and the manuscript was returned to me for edits with less than 2 dozen fixes. This sent up a red flag. Not only did I edit the thing line by line, very carefully, I decided not to send that publisher any more manuscripts.
The difference with a print publisher is the number of hands a manuscript passes through. Although a few epubs do have special line editors, most only have one editor – one set of eyes. The more eyes that are put to a manuscript, the cleaner it will become.
I hope and pray my latest books do not have the typos my first two did. Live and learn!
Shannon Stacey, an author who publishes with Samhain put up a post of her own on the subject, stating it was all on her.
Barring some unpleasant circumstance in which an editor goes in and inexplicably mucks things up after a final edit, the author is responsible for every single word on the page. Every typo, every grammatical error, every inconsistency or plot hole is the author’s fault. The buck stops with her.
Nothing—nothing—sets my teeth on edge like an author responding to having an error pointed out with, “I know! Can you believe my editor didn’t catch that? She’s awful!”
Another author, Heather Rae Scott, commented on that post:
Very excellent post, Shannon. I take full responsibility. In all honesty though, I think what this all boils down too is yet another way to slam epublishers and their authors. Before it was they were smut by piss poor authors–not my opinion–but now that the market is evolving and expaning, they need new ammo to toss into the fire.
Because like shit, typos happen.
While I agree with her to an extent, I guess my biggest issue isn’t with the typos. Yes, they bother me. Quite a bit. But not nearly as much as grammatical, punctuation or plot hole issues. And as for her comment that this is just another way to pick on ePublishers, I’ll only say I think that’s ridiculous. As a fan of romance AND eBooks, I don’t try to find things wrong with ePublishers. Perhaps some do, but we here at Book Binge don’t.
Of course, since I originally started working on this post (so it’s been a few months? What can I say, I’m lazy) others have discussed it as well.
To be clear, I’m not saying lower standards should be applied to epublishing, or that bad editing and bad books don’t exist but it’s my feeling that many readers have grown so skeptical of the ability of editors at epublishers to get the job done (or skeptical of the fact that any editing is done at all), that they sometimes go in predisposed to expect typos, so that’s what they see. Once upon a time I was a therapist in the mental health field and I used to counsel patients about this in relation to always seeing the bad side of things, things that made them angry, etc. I would give them this assignment: “When you wake up in the morning, choose a color. It doesn’t matter what color it is but let’s say red. Look for every red thing you can during the day. Make a list in your head.” The next day (or week) I would ask them if they noticed things that were the color red. Of course they did. Now I’d ask, what did you see that was yellow? Invariably, I’d get a blank look. Why? Because they were so busy looking for the color red, that’s what they saw. They saw what they were looking for.
I have to completely disagree with her. Well, from my point of view, anyway. I never go into reading a book thinking “this one is going to suck because so-and-so published it”. Never. Not once. Perhaps other do, but I don’t.
Having slogged through all that crap, let me tell you what I think.
Side Note: This is strictly my opinion. Everyone is entitled and I’m no different. So don’t take the entire romance community to task over my thoughts. They are mine alone. :End Side Note
I think it’s a combination of the two. If there are a few spelling errors, oh well. That happens everyday, in every publishing house. We’re human, and therefore will make mistakes.
But if there are plot holes, awkward phrasing, bad dialogue, character or plot inconsistencies and etc, that falls on the first the author, then the editor. The author’s name ultimately ends up on the book. While reading a novel, I don’t think, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe Angela Knight wrote that!” I’m thinking, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe Nora Roberts wrote that!” Because I buy books based on the author, not the editor.
On the other hand, the editor is supposed to catch these kinds of mistakes. That’s what editors do. They edit. Content, storyline, characterization, etc. And if they don’t, what’s the point? Why even have an editor if they aren’t..well, editing? That makes no sense to me.
Do I think they should shoulder all the blame? No. But I do think they should shoulder the majority of it. Especially if it’s a new, never been published author.
Authors, maybe you should find someone you trust and trust well to proof-read for you. And not just for spelling errors, either. You might save yourselves some embarrassment along the way….