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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How May Editors Does it Take?

How many editors does it take to find all the errors in a book? (Yes the title is a joke)  I feel like I went over my first book with a fine tooth comb and there were still more than six typos one reader found.  The reader's name is Grace and she 'gracefully' (sorry) asked if I wanted to know the typos.  She loved the book and was very kind about the mistakes.  A big help to me.  So much so that she just read my new book (to be released mid June).
This did make me wonder though.  Between me and my co-writer we have about ten people reading the book, looking for mistakes.  None of our readers are professional editors but I would think, between 10 people, all the errors would be found.  But maybe not.  So what is it professional editors do, or have, that gives them the ability to find all the errors?  Or do they?  I'm self published so I use what I have.  What happens in the professional world?  Is there just one editor?  Are there several?  Please, share what you know in the comments.


  1. I'm not sure about editors. I do know that editing and grammar are not my strong suit, but even I find mistakes in books that are being published professionally. I truly believe that if a story is good, like the two I've read of yours, you tend not to see the errors. Maybe even editors have that problem.

  2. Copyediting is a specific skill set. And it's a hard job that doesn't pay well. I am by no means a copyeditor yet I find at least one error in every book I read. It's HARD to get them all.

    A few typos don't bother me. Lots of errors, coupled with awkward writing and I'm outta there.

    I do know that printing out a ms. and proofing on paper helps catch more mistakes for some reason.

  3. Meghan Ward recently described Kristen lamb's We Are Not Alone as full of typos.

    Konrath's book are notorious for typos.

    Charlaine Harris's latest book is apparently riddled with typos.

    Her ebook that is.

    Harris is produced by a major publishing outfit. I've never seen similar comments about her paper books, yet her ebook version is slammed for errors.

    We have a best-seller on Kindle UK. Almost 75,000 sold. We've had one-star reviews about how badly edited and full of errors it is (we've also got nearly one hundred five-stars so not too bothered by that).

    But... Many of these errors reported, such as #3 in the middle of a sentence, simply weren't there in the uploaded ms. Nor in the downloaded versions we've seen.

    So - either a few reviewers are leaving false reports (not saying they are - just a possibility) or there are download glitches and occasional downloads are going out with format errors that we get blamed for as typos.

    #3 is typical. There's no way a basic spell-check would miss that. We can understand homonyms like too and to or there and their perhaps getting through unnoticed, but #3 in the middle of a word?

    We're not perfect, but we just wouldn't upload a manuscript with #3 in the middle of a sentence.

    We also get slammed for American / British spelling differences. Both versions are legitimate, but a reader can still leave a neg' because they prefer color to colour.

    Ultimately, d readers really care? Within reason, isn't the occasional typo a price worth paying for a 99c / 99p indie ebook as opposed to the crazy prices of a trad published version?

  4. Sorry I have been lax in answering. We are gearing up for the new book release. I appreciate and agree with your comments. Especially the #3 in the middle of a sentence. Unbelievable that someone would think that was a writing error. I agree if a book is good, a couple of typos won't distract and are a small price to pay for 99 cents. And it's clear to me when I see a s used instead of a z that is is a US vs European difference, not a typo.
    I believe copy editing is a skill. I'm just not capable of being that careful! Interesting that printing it out helps fin more errors. I proof read a paper copy of my books. I think I like the feeling of progress turning each page, getting closer to the end. And I like a red marker!
    Thanks for the comments everyone!

  5. Well, I used a professional editor who also happened to be a friend,so she did it as a favor and refused payment. So sweet! For me it was really valuable because she helped me with the writing itself, since this was my first novel, and really helped me tighten up the story. As far as typos, yes, she helped me catch a lot, as did several readers, but ultimately there still were some in the final version. Since I didn't want to impose too much on her time, I suppose she didn't catch as many errors as a paid editor would, but her input on the writing was the most valuable thing.

  6. Thanks for sharing Georgina. I am also wondering if readers cut 'professional' writers a break but look for errors in indie's. Maybe not consciously but still...