Why Editing and Proofreading Still Matter

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1106 Design

September 30, 2013

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_dropcap]T[/fusion_dropcap]he topic of errors in books surfaces occasionally in the Facebook and LinkedIn groups to which I belong. “If I find typos, I won’t buy another book from that author!” was one group’s consensus, while the editorial group debated the demise of the English language—did anyone care if books contain errors? Some felt the general tolerance level for typos had increased, and while their tolerance level was zero (they were editors after all!), they felt that the state of our education system combined with the new “language” around texting and Twitter had contributed to readers not being able to recognize a typo when they saw one.

I’ve also noticed an increase in errors—in best-selling books from top authors and publishers. Recently, I read two best-sellers. I won’t mention titles or authors, but safe to say that they were well-known. And yet I found errors. In one book the author repeated the same sentence within two pages. The repetition was not meant for dramatic effect; it was clearly an error. In the other book, the author introduced character X to character Y, and then several pages later introduced character X to the reader for the first time! No time travel was involved; again, it was an error. And each book contained a few typos, which quite frankly I now expect. Another best-seller contained so many errors that I’ve never read another of the author’s books. He’s lost a fan for good.

The 1106 Design team copyedits and proofs books for our clients and some of the errors we find would be embarrassing if they made it into print. (For example, our editor discovered that, in a recipe book where the featured ingredient was cooked chicken, the author told the reader to use cooked chicken only once—in the front matter—not in each recipe! In this case, the book may not have caused embarrassment as much as actual illness.) It is difficult, if not impossible, for authors to edit their own work. Authors are too close to their manuscripts to catch mistakes; they need an editor’s fresh eyes and expertise.

Would you, as an author, want to contribute to increasing the tolerance for typos? I shouldn’t think so. Perhaps self-publishing authors, by cultivating a reputation for excellence in language, can raise the bar on errors and force best-selling authors and their publishers to take more care in their editing and proofreading.

—Michele DeFilippo owns 1106 Design, a Phoenix-based company that offers cover design, interior design and layout, manuscript editing, and more with expert self-publishing advice and hand-holding every step of the way. Please visit https://1106design.com to download her free eBook, Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing.
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