Sunday 24 August 2014

A Reader Notices a Typo

Signs of a problem: sudden awareness of a typo that didn’t seem to be there yesterday.

The symptoms: frustration; anger; devastation.

It may feel like having your insides ripped out through your nose, but having a specific typo brought to your attention is actually a good thing. Proofreading costs money and if a reader has been kind enough to alert you to a typo that can be fixed, then you should be thankful.

On rare occasions, however, a reader might leave their feedback in the manner of a one star review titled ‘Full of Sodding Mistakes!’ without being even remotely specific. On such occasions, murderous thoughts are acceptable, so long as you do not act on them – remember, always the humble, grateful author on the surface. Keep the sadism hidden deep within.

You must not, under any circumstances reply to the reader with the words: ‘Ya mamma is full of sodding mistakes.’ That could make you seem ungrateful. What? Yes, I know you are ungrateful, but you must promote a feedback-rich environment if you are to improve and be taken seriously. A reviewer might be a useless waste of space, but if you get a reputation for being prickly it could deter feedback from more constructive sources. Also, you’ll look like a censorship pillock.

Some people believe an author should never comment on reviews, but I think it’s good practice to thank reviewers, provided they haven’t said something so horrid that a few words of thanks will look sarcastic.

It is not difficult to update an eBook, so you should do this regularly if typos are brought to your attention.

If, however, somebody finds a typo in a print-on-demand book, it might cost you money to update the manuscript. You must think very carefully about whether or not to correct the mistake. Although it can be tempting to want to pay whatever it takes to make your baby perfect, updating your manuscript too frequently is a slippery slope toward empty pockets. A bit like getting your baby’s ears pinned and then deciding that you don’t like its nose. Decide on a minimum threshold for updates – it could be a number of typos, a number of copies sold or a period of time. Once the threshold has been met, then take your baby for its plastic surgery.

Avoid pretending that the typo was intentional. ‘I meant “grisly” not “grizzly”. Little baby Peaches is gruesome!’ just won’t wash.

Do not criticise reviewers for making typos in their reviews – readers don’t have to be able to spell; you do.

Never take the attitude that you’re an indie, so accuracy doesn’t matter. If you want to be taken seriously as a totally splendid hotshot author then you need to behave like one, and totally splendid hotshot authors strive for perfection.

Additional Blog-Exclusive Advice

By Chris Bailey

As a first time author, I have gone through the heartache of discovering a typo several zillion times! They seem to be everywhere, spreading like a virus and no matter how many times you read your manuscript, there is a stupidly high chance you’ll still bloody miss them.

So you’ve got a proof reader? Get four (thousand) or more. You’ve proof read your book ten times? Try ten more times. You finally give up, broken and hating your work as much as a childhood nemesis who stole your lunch money. Get up and move past it; there’s always help out there.

You find a genius editor; he’s smart, notices things you didn’t even consider. Though you’ve never met him in person, you’re 200% sure he smells of roses. He performs a line-edit on your book and you’re grinning like Garfield on lasagne day.

The big book release … first review is good. Reviewer however notices typos! How did this happen? You want to crawl into your bed and hide … All that time, effort and they’re still there.

Relax; releasing a book you have put so much time into is a wonderful achievement. You should be proud! Even a robot can’t pick up on everything. You’ve been lucky enough to have the typos pointed out to you, so go and celebrate your first good review and come back to those typos later.

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