Sunday, November 16, 2008

Misteaks? I dont kno Anything about any Mistaks. Because Im Perfec.

I have a question about author sloppiness. I have recently gotten my hands on quite a few uncorrected proofs and I've noticed that some of them have very few errors - maybe as few as one or two, but others have many. Not just typos, but lots of formatting errors, and even continuity errors. I realize that they are uncorrected, but it brings me to ask this question. How much does an author's sloppiness affect the ARC and the final book?
This depends on the editor, copyeditor, and proofreader. Sometimes a mess of a manuscript inspires the publisher's team to go through it with a fine-tooth comb, and other times it inspires them to think, "the author clearly didn't give a crap; why should I?"
I'm not defending that thinking, fyi.
For example, someone in my critique group is notoriously sloppy with typos and continuity errors, and when her first book came out, there were more errors in it than I've seen in any other finished book. I'm just wondering how much a writer can actually rely on editors and copy editors? My agent has recently sold my book and I'm on the first round of edits, so I'm a ways off from this, and I'm generally quite meticulous, but is there anything I should do besides try my best to get things right and also have someone else read it who is detail oriented?
That is the most you can do, and that much is deeply appreciated by your editor, assuming you have a decent one.
Or are some of these errors coming later, AFTER the writer has handed over the project?
Yes, of course some of them are.
No, don't freak out. This happens to pretty much every book as it goes through the process. That's because it's a more complicated process than most people realize, and between communicating edits among a team of 4-5 people and transferring text from a word doc to whatever the designers are using, mistakes can and will happen. That's why there are multiple rounds of galleys and proofs.


Liz said...

I was managing editor of a law journal during law school, and part of my job was to do the final proof of the finished, laid out, (supposedly) thoroughly edited and ready-to-go-to-the-printer copy. Thankfully the rest of the editorial staff was very thorough and had caught almost everything, but it was amazing that after three months of heavy review and editing, I'd still find a sentence with no verb or a fragment hanging out there all by itself with a period at the end. It was a 24-hr turnaround that required an all nighter and a lot of coffee, but the polished product was worth it. And a trick for finding errors that you might otherwise overlook from having read the same text over and over? Read it backwards.

AC said...

I work in the journalism industry, and it still baffles me that something gets published when at least five or six people have looked at it, but it happens all the time :)

That said, I once picked up a book that looked good and found a glaring error in the jacket copy (not just a typo, but a bad grammatical error). I put the book back. That may or may not have been right, but I figured that there are so many books out there for me to read, and if this one had a sloppy blurb--made to entice me to read the book--there was no telling what would be inside.

cindy said...

having gone through 3 full revisions and a mini one with my fantastic editor, i'm now awaiting galleys. just this week, i remembered an issue with age and timelines.

i understand there's no way to send a flawless novel out there into the public, but we're trying really hard! good luck to the original emailer!

BuffySquirrel said...

I was looking at my much-edited and thoroughly proof-read issue of GUD magazine today, and an error leapt out at me. Gah. Already gone to print so there's nothing I can do....

I hate that!