Typos – The Cockroaches of the Publishing World, Only Worse

You write. You edit. You find exasperating typos that you cannot imagine how you typed them originally. Or maybe it is easy to understand how your fingers fumbled. Or you spelled it one way that made sense, but you discover it was wrong. So you correct them. Then you read it again and typos are found that you cannot imagine how they slipped past you in your last edit. And it happens again. And you send it to another editor and she finds some you missed. And you correct those. And eventually you get a galley out of your prepared to print file and you read it and find more. And your rant and rave and fix those. You get your first printed writer’s proof of the book. And yes … you guessed it. You find another or two or three. And you correct them. And finally you sell some books. And you get an email from a fan that says, ” I really liked your new book. Just so you know, there seems to be a typo on page 113.” Or worse, somebody reviews it and just says, “I did notice a couple of typos.”

Typos. They run. They hide. They seek places in the dark only to appear suddenly, munching on the art of your creation. Like cockroaches.

Independent publishers, like my publishing company Dustivus Media, already fight battles to be noticed in the swamp that is Amazon. We struggle mightily up the mountain that is a pile of independent and self-published books tainted with a reputation of ungrammatical poor writing riddled with typos. And like the fanciest, most luxurious hotel in the world that gets five star reviews from everybody until that one customer finds a dead cockroach in the bathtub and suddenly that is the review that goes viral–we see the readers who review and say, “I’m giving up on self-published books. I tried to read one and then I found a typo. I immediately quit reading that book”–and suddenly, we cannot sleep at night. We cannot eat. Our very being is brought into question. No longer do we occasionally feel like the gods are directing our pen. It is Satan, the dark lord of typos and he is sucking us into the eternal torment of Hell.

To keep going we must cling to something. Us writers develop a way of reading that, in many ways, destroys a part of the joy reading used to bring us. Before we started writing. We read with a critical eye, looking for the things of style and form that makes one author successful and wealthy over all others. And, with luck, we find typos made by famous writers in books published by the holy institutions known by writers as The Big Five (Listen closely and you will hear a heavenly harp play a hallelujah chord whenever you say or read that. Say it reverently with me: “The Big Five.” Ta da. (heavenly chord fades into celestial space)). Yes. The Big Five (Or whatever their equivalent is if even more mergers have come about making the market even less competitive for anybody not named Kardashian); Penguin Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster; … where was I? … oh, yeah … even they publish books with typos. And that is a good thing for us to find.

Finding typos in big books from big people means that we do not struggle alone. There may be many things separating us from those blessed with listings on the New York Times Bestsellers lists, but it is not the fact that we have a typo in a book. So do they!

I keep a list.

For all you writers out there, or presented for self-reflection to critical readers trashing us struggling writers because you find a typo or two … okay– three or four, below is a link to my ongoing list of some of the typos I have found and made a note about. They are mostly by famous writers published by the big guys. I need to go through a history of World War II multi-volume set of books I have because I made a note of typos I found there and currently cannot find that note. More fun, I need to read all the Nero Wolfe novels in my collection because I saw one in one of those books, swore I’d remember where, and forgot before I could get it noted.

Presented here is my growing list. I will update it as I add to it. Feel free to comment or otherwise let me know if you discover typos in the stuff you read. This my list and I won’t add to it unless I personally see the typo, but I have 4000 books around here. I might have the one you read or I might run across it somewhere in the future. I will carry your notes with me and look for the typos you reference. I’ll add them when I see them.

See the list here.

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