Write. Edit. Share. Repeat.

About writing, editing, publishing & getting it out there

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About that typo in your book …

Readers have noticed.

These things happen, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up too much, but if you self-published (which more and more people are doing these days), fix it as soon as you can.

If you are published by a traditional publisher, ask them to fix it. It’ll take longer, but the sooner the process gets started, the better. … of course if a book doesn’t have a second run, you may be stuck with that typo. (Another reason I like self-publishing and print-on-demand.)

Mistakes happen. Writers, and even editors, are human. But letting an error sit there, if you’re trying to be successful and sell your book, makes no sense. If the typo is in your marketing blurb on Amazon or elsewhere, it’s even more vital you fix it now. A typo in a one-paragraph block of copy is a bad sign. I can’t speak for other book buyers, but 99.9% of the time I will not buy a book with a typo in the promo copy. My exception is when buying from a friend—but I will let the friend gently know about it.)

bad spelling 3I’ve heard it expressed that writers who make a lot of spelling errors do so because they “see through” the words to the concepts behind them—they might not spell well, but they are better at describing and reporting things.

When I worked at a daily newspaper years ago, I knew a reporter whose copy was typically full of spelling errors. He would arrogantly declare, “It’s the copyeditor’s job to fix typos!” It was annoying, but he was an excellent reporter and storyteller, and his attitude was tolerated because he got the job done. The copyeditor just read his work more carefully. At this very same newspaper, there was a guy we called “Prima Donna” because he was consistently late on deadline while trying to write the perfect lead and make sure every sentence flowed. His reporting was less than stellar, and, as I recall, his writing wasn’t all that hot either, despite his nit-picking.

I think there is a balance in between these two extremes. I don’t think having typos makes you a deeper thinker or a better storyteller, and I don’t think being anal about getting everything right makes you a dry, boring writer. I can’t imagine any writer who doesn’t have typos in the first several drafts. If a writer obsesses about typos at that stage I would think that would block the flow of inspiration.

Obviously if you think typos are no big deal, you can ignore this. But to me, it’s another advantage to self-publishing. You can fix your errors rather easily. Let the critics see your story and your words. Don’t let them be distracted by mistakes.

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Badly edited books

I’ve joked about poorly edited books on Twitter, but in reality, I don’t think it’s a joke. It’s something that bothers me quite a bit.

I’m an editor, so I realize I’m biased, but I’m a reader first. I can grit my teeth and overlook one or two typos in a book, not one or two per page. It makes me very frustrated when I try to be supportive of indie authors, and I feel bad for the ones who know how important it is to clean up a book before setting it loose in the world. I don’t understand it. Not everyone is a great writer, but it you want to be recognized for your writing (and I assume a writer wants to be recognized for his writing if he’s published a book) you are shooting yourself in the foot if you produce something riddled with mistakes.

At least part of the reason I’m on GoodReads is to discover new books and writers. If someone sends me an invitation to an “event,” ie, the publication of his new book, I’ll look at it and consider it. If it’s free, I’ll download it only if there are no mistakes in the promotional copy. If it’s not free, I’ll check out the cover and title first, then the description, and then the reviews. If it seems like something I might like, I’ll buy it. I’m not saying I do this every time someone sends me such an invitation (I’d never be able to keep up) but I’ll do it often enough. It’s fairly random.

Recently, I was burned by a particularly bad indie science fiction book. I won’t go into the fact that the plot line, the dialogue and the characters all needed a lot of work, probably more than a basic copyedit could fix. What an editor would have caught was, among other things, a constant ping-ponging between tenses:. “He says,” in one paragraph, “She said,” in the next one. And that was just one of the more obvious errors. The image below is a screen shot from a completely random page; the first page I landed on happened to have this nugget:

snip of bad writing

I think this kind of carelessness makes a book unreadable. Sure, if you have a fantastic story and great characters, maybe you could get away with more mistakes, but then again, if you’ve got that great of a book, you owe it to yourself to ask a professional or a few highly skilled friends to read it and edit it.

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Srsly?

In an online forum about grammar, one person complained about bad grammar in texting:

What makes people think it’s all right to drop all usage and grammar rules when texting or messaging? If I see one more “u” I’ll scream. Ugh. Don’t write how you talk. It makes you look like an idiot. I don’t have a qwerty keyboard; I have a flip phone & I text using T9. I care about the language enough not to butcher it no matter what I’m doing.

(Note: I didn’t know what T9 was, so if she was complaining that abbreviations and slang make texts hard to understand, she lost me.) Read More

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Putting away the red pen

Step away from the Sharpie!

Put your hands in the air and step away from the Sharpie!

If anyone was paying attention, a month or so back I started a project in which I was going to post “a typo a day.”

While this was fun for a short time it soon got to be a chore. Where were all the typos when I wanted them? I said I wasn’t going to pick on hand-written restaurant signs, because I didn’t feel that was fair. Everyone makes mistakes when they’re doing something temporary, when there’s no time for anyone to proof their work. Read More

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Souvenirs and mnemories…

From Grammar Tip of the Day (gtotd.blogspot.com)

My best friend in college had an Italian last name with four syllables. I could say it, but spelling it drove me nuts. I believed (and still believe) in correct spelling, especially for names. Her name was consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel. The consonants were easy enough to remember; it was the vowels that gave me trouble. One day I looked at her name and had a flash of genius. I suddenly saw that the vowels were in ascending order starting with “a”: A, E, I and O. Perfect. I had the spelling down from then on. I pointed this out to my friend and she said, “You know, I NEVER noticed that before–pretty cool!”

I’ve always tried to come up with memory devices to remember things. In high school, one English teacher had a vocabulary quiz every Friday. It was maybe 10 or 20 words, not much more, and we had a list ahead of time that included those words. The ones I didn’t know, I would come up with mnemonic devices for myself to remember them. I aced every quiz. To be honest, I didn’t always remember the words six months later, but I remembered them long enough to get a good grade! Read More

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Sad typo is sad (from vacation)

My husband Paul and I were on vacation in Spain and then Dublin over the last two weeks. I was still keeping an occasional eye peeled for a good typo.

For the first part of the trip, I figured that most of the signs would be in Spanish, so either typos wouldn’t be noticeable (I only speak and read a little Spanish), or, if a sign was in English, it would have been written by a non-native speaker. Although I think everything should be proofed and  produced error free, I’m not going to give anyone a hard time for a mistake in a foreign language.

However, the town we were staying in, Benalmádena, on the Mediterranean, turned out to have a large population of British transplants, while many other UK folks were there on vacation. Bars, restaurants and stores all over the town were run by Brits and a lot of the signs were only in English. So while we were waiting for our toasties–battling flies and cigarette smoke–I felt justified in snapping a photo of the sign outside a little seaside pub.

I was enjoying myself too much to spend too much time looking for typos. When I return to work on Tuesday, I’ll continue my quest.

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A typo a day, day 8

I just checked my dictionary in case things have changed recently.

Nope–“sameday” is still two words.

I only happened to see this one (actually my husband Paul spotted it) because we had two weeks worth of laundry to do and decided to go out to the laundromat rather than use the machines in the basement of our building. The “sameday” sign is on the cleaners next to the laundromat.


Speaking of bad signs, in the laundromat there was a sign posted by one of the machines telling patrons not to put people into the washers. I didn’t snap a picture of it (I should have), but I just did a Google search and found this shot. Glad they stopped me. I’m always tempted to do that…

 

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Visit my professional website: Arzooman Editorial Services

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Typos… day 7

I’ve been wanting to grab a shot of this for a while now; it’s been appearing on the screen when I go to pump gas — not just at one gas station but at several. I suppose it’s the kind of thing that someone programmed into a computer a while ago and, even if a customer complained about it (and it’s possible that no one ever did), the people in charge were too busy or lazy to go back and change it.

I’m not a big Dunkin Donuts coffee fan, anyway. I’ll drink it in a pinch. It’s sometimes fresh. Freesh, I’m sure, is better.

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Find a typo day 6

Am I cheating?  It’s not so much a typo as an unclear sentence.

Did the health department order them to have hot water? Did the health department discover their very hot water and order them to put up a sign?

Who knows?

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A typo a day challenge, Day 5

Here’s something a little different — the back cover of a published book. Spotted at the Duane Reade on 6th Avenue between 44th and 45th streets in Manhattan.

In my quest to find these little buggers, my faith has been restored slightly … just slightly. I think most people still care about getting things right.