Posted by Julie at Sep 26, 2012 10:17 am
First, I apologize for the lateness of the blog.
Second, yesterday, I was re-reading my book, DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, in preparation of writing the third and fourth installments of this once abandoned and now revived (thank you, readers!) series. The book was originally published in 2005 by Simon & Schuster. When I wrote it, I read it over carefully. It was my first big single title release and I wanted it to be great. I want all my books to be great, of course, but this one was really special to me.
I checked and double-checked a gazillion things. I had my aunt, a twenty-year Spanish teacher, go over all the Spanish in the book, as my character, Marisela Morales, is bi-lingual and peppers her conversations with phrases in her second language. (She’s second generation American, so in my mind, she learned Spanish and English concurrently). My aunt found errors, helped me correct them and then I sent a detailed edit to the publisher.
Somehow, the publisher did not input those edits. They might have done a few, but on publication of the book, I was horrified when my aunt told me that the changes, for the most part, weren’t made. But in a print book, there isn’t anything I could do except make sure that the sequel, Dirty Little Lies, never reached the publisher until I’d vetted every word.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I want to let readers in on something that is something forgotten–authors care. We care about giving our readers a clean version of our books. We beg our friends to proofread. We exchange favors for this, often reading each other’s books in order to get things right. We train family members to pick up on any nits that need picking. Then there are editors. Line editors. Copy editors. Professional and freelance proofreaders whose job it is to catch mistakes from typos to continuity errors to out-and-out mistakes.
But things still slip through.
Back to yesterday…so I’m reading along, this time with the expressed purpose to making note of any facts I’ve laid down in the book that will be helpful in the new version. Frankie’s eyes? Hazel. Check. Marisela’s age? Twenty-eight. Check. Her parent’s store? At the corner of Tampania and Habana…check? Wait, what?
My eyes nearly bugged out of my head. I read and re-read the line three times…this can’t be in the book. I went and checked the print version. Habana and Tampania. Only…Habana and Tampania run PARALLEL to each other. They are a full city block apart. I know, because the house I grew up on was one house in from Habana and about twelves-fourteen houses in from Tampania. My grandmother lived on Habana. My great-grandmother lived on Tampania.
I know this like I know that the sky is blue and the grass is green and water is wet…and yet, there it is, in black and white, WRONG.
This isn’t a huge error. I know it isn’t. Only readers from that particular neighborhood in Tampa would catch it (and after posting on my Facebook page about it, two such readers admitted that they’d both gone right over it without noticing). But there was a lesson to be learned in finding it…a lesson I have taken to heart…and that is, I no longer get annoyed when a writer makes a mistake like this. It happens. But even if it takes me out of the story, I’m going to be forgiving. It’s going to have to happen on page after page after page before I put the book down.
I feel this way about all books, print or digital. If an author said in an offhand comment in one book that her heroine has a sister and three books later in the series, sibling shows up and is a brother, I’m okay with it. If an author says on one page that a character is a countess, but for pages and pages afterward, the countess is a duchess, I’m okay with it. Mistakes happen. Authors, upon finding out about such mistakes, are usually horrified.
The good thing is that with independent publishing, I can make a fix. The next version will be corrected and up in the next month or so. I will have to pay someone to do this, so it’s neither easy nor quick. But I’ll do it because I owe it to my readers.
Why am I writing this? Just to let you know that as an author, I care. All the authors I know care this way. If you feel compelled to write an author and let them know about a mistake, either real or perceived, be kind. They didn’t mean to make the mistake. Also, please accept that sometimes, as readers, we’re wrong. The Amazon reviewer who said my book has a lot of typos? That person is wrong. I’m halfway through reading and I’ve found ONE–a missing open quotation mark. But if they wanted to write to me and tell me precisely where these typos are, they can feel free! But please don’t berate or lecture or accuse me of nefariously trying to put out a substandard product. I ASSURE you, that is not the case.
Shew…okay, got that off my chest! Now, back to reading!
How do you feel about the occasional typo/mistake? Does it totally ruin your reading experience or can you look behind the random error to the story within?