As writers, we like to think our books are perfect and completely error-free, but deep in our hearts and in the dark corners of our minds, there is a niggling worry that, somewhere, the typo/spelling mistake/punctuation mistake/grammar mistake of doom is lurking, waiting to annoy our unsuspecting readers.
In a recent post about pet peeves, some readers commented on how much spelling mistakes and typos bother them when reading, and I totally understand that. I too feel a bit irked when I’m reading a book released by a well-known publishing house, only to come across a misplaced punctuation mark or a blatantly obvious typo. You’d think their editors would do a better job, right?
However, since I started working as an editor, I’m trying come to terms with the fact that, hey, editors are human too, and all humans make mistakes. I too have made or missed some mistakes while editing, so it’s useful when my fiancé proofreads what I did. Even then, however, it’s possible to still overlook some mistakes. We try to polish manuscripts as much as possible, but we ask our clients to bear in mind that we don’t guarantee a 100% error-free manuscript. Nobody can do that. We’re not perfect.
With that in mind, I still am afraid to touch my novel, because I will always be reading it with a critical eye. What if I find a typo? What if my tenses are inconsistent? What if there’s a grammar or spelling mistake somewhere? What if I was too redundant somewhere? What if I repeated the same word several times in one paragraph? The mere thought alone upsets me. Editing feels like a never-ending process, and chances are – even after you decide that enough is enough and publish the book – you’ll still find something you’ll want to change about it.
One person who reviewed my book said that she loved the story but was a little irked by some errors. I froze in horror, thinking that after all my work, people have still managed to find mistakes in the book. You probably think that I took the novel down and edited it again, but I did not. It’s out there now, and regardless of the amount of editing I do, someone somewhere will still manage to dig up something. Even if I do revise the novel again, I still might miss the errors she had in mind while writing that review.
I’m not saying errors are okay, no, and I’m less lenient when a book is published by a major publishing house. Though I do think indie authors should be allowed a margin of error. After all, they don’t have a whole team of editors backing them up.
What are your thoughts about this? How do you react to errors? What would you do if someone mentioned errors in your already published novel?