Friday, November 30, 2007

Goofs in print

I did proofs for my March book this week. (For those of you who haven't been exposed to this painful process, it's when they send you a copy of a book-to-come, unbound, but printed on the page exactly as it's supposed to look in print.)

The problem is that, by this time, you've looked this book over, oh, approximately half a billion times, and you're so sick of it you can no longer be objective. So most of the time you're supposed to be looking for errors you're too busy moaning: "Boring! Boring! So the bad guy almost killed the good guy, and they jumped off a cliff and were rescued by giant flying amphibians! Boring!" (Okay, that was NOT my book, and forgive me if it resembles anybody else's. The point is that by this point EVERYTHING sounds boring.)

The other problem is that you really are supposed to mark only typos and other glitches - you are reminded regularly by editorial that this is NOT the time to be rewriting. And, of course, I see things I'd love to rewrite on every page. This, btw, is also why I try very hard not to read books once they're printed. I really can't fix anything then, and it makes me nuts.

That said, I caught a couple of biggies, beyond typos, this time. There was an action tag of a guy in a chair, only I forgot to have him sit down when he came in the room. Also, I had an outdoor scene where it was cool and pleasant one minute, hot a page later, and, while it IS Minnesota and that's perfectly plausible, I probably needed to make note of it one way or the other.

So that was good. But sometimes I miss things despite my best efforts, mostly because my eyes have a habit of seeing on the page what I THOUGHT I wrote and not necessarily what I did write. Of course, once it's in print, some helpful person will tell you. The worst one that slipped by me: I forgot I'd gelded a horse early on in the book, and somehow he managed to miraculously regrow his parts by the next time he showed up, some several hundred pages later. (In my defense that was a long book, with a lot of characters, and at least none of her eight siblings had a sex change!)

So, fellow authors, fess up . . . what got by you? Readers, you're welcome to contribute, too, the funny goofs you've found. (As long as they're in books that are unlikely to be recognized by any writers who stop by here regularly. I'm depending on your kindness; it's the holidays.)

12 comments:

Christie Ridgway said...

Hey, Susie!

I want to know more about the new book. So, set in Minnesota, but what else?

I heard from several readers when I wrote that Richie Sambora of the band Bon Jovi was the bass player. No, he plays lead guitar, they told me.

I'm sure I've done others of the cold outside-then-hot variety, but the band thing just got me. I should have checked with the dh who is about all things musical.

Debra Dixon said...

I've given up worrying about individual books now that BelleBooks has a series going into its SEVENTH title.

Thank Heavens for the large print subrights people. It's embarrassing but they regularly call me when they are working on their edition of a Mossy Creek books and say, "Hey, on page XX of Book 3 this guy was an orphan but on page X of Book 6 he's meeting his parents for dinner."

LOL! Okay it's not that bad but continuity, copy editing and proof reading are so important and it's so difficult to do those things when your eyes can focus on the words because you've seen it so many times.

At BelleBooks, we employ a continuity editor who manages this ridiculously large concordance. She keeps begging for us to give her the books before the go to print so we don't have to *fix* them in reprint. But we're never ahead of the curve enough to do the deep concordance edit prior to publication. That thing takes weeks.

Not that you'd find everything. Like Susie says, lovely readers email us and help out with anything we've missed.

lois greiman said...

Oh man, I just got my copy edits back. I screwed up the time line so badly I'm surprised the Avon editors will even talk to me anymore. I was kind of time traveling through history. Sigh. I always feel badly about these things, but that's what editors are for right???

Dara Edmondson said...

All I've found in one of my print books was a missing "of" so far. I beat myself about the head and neck for it - drives me nuts knowing it's not in there.

Betina Krahn said...

I've had books that were pretty clean and books that were terrible. The worst part is that one book that has been reprinted several times was never corrected!!! I spoke to the editor-- she said she'd make a request-- nothing came of it. Still the mistakes.

I have a book some years back where the word "bride" was used fairly frequently. Every one became "birdie." Every single one. I guess the typesetter was dyslexic or something. I managed to change most of them, but since it was at the galley-proof stage, and I couldn't run it through the computer. . . a few got through. I still cringe. And the publisher could care less.

I occasionally have readers contacting me about what a certain number of "delight" was in The Book of the Seven Delights. Interestingly, they want to know different numbers. Which means, they're there, but apparently the readers aren't keeping up with them. Next time I do a "count" book--which may be the 12th of Never-- I'll be sure to be a lot more obvious with the counting!!

Keri Ford said...

I've never caught anything major, just something like two words didn't getspaced. Or an letter was left out of the word.

I catch more slip ups in movies than in books since I've started writing. DH hates watches movies with me now :)

flchen1 said...

Hee! I'm not laughing AT you--I've worked as a copy editor and proofreader before and know that there are tons of things to check before something goes to print. And you try to check all the facts and continuities and hope that the spelling and grammar has all gotten fixed, but sometimes things still slip through. As long as the story is a good one, the slip ups are just minor distractions (or you can think of them as leaving some extra fun in for your most anal readers ;)) But true, there's nothing like that sinking feeling when you catch something when flipping through a freshly printed copy... And I don't even remember ones that have shown up in the books I read for fun, so see? They aren't permanently burned into my memory banks anyway...

Helen Brenna said...

This is something I can't allow myself to think about or with my tendencies toward perfectionism I'd obsess. So I'm no help whatsoever!

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey guys
Apologies for not posting lately. My computer's been in the shop and I just got it back. Tea!!
Oh, Susan - you hit a hot button for me. I make mistakes. Period. but I do try to correct them. My last book was on a really tight production schedule. I labored all night to make corrections in the proofs and turn them around in 24 hours. And what happened? Someone in editorial dropped the ball and they didn't get fixed. Okay. I understand. They have bad days too. But, on my. I have received tons of mail about the typos in that book. They finally got corrected in the 3rd printing but it was painful. I think that worst was that a secondary character's name got changed midway through. Yikes.

Playground Monitor said...

I've done proofreading for a couple authors and with the crazy deadlines they have, I can't fault them for having errors. That's what I'm there for -- to catch them cause I'm reading with a fresh eye. (I keep it in a ziploc bag every night to keep it fresh too. *g*)

The worst thing I ever read in a book was a scene where the hero mentioned an overnight flight from Miami to Havana. Uh... On a 747 you'd almost overshoot Havana on the take-off. That same book was set on the Georgia coast and mentioned rocky cliffs and crashing waves. Hello! There are no rocky cliffs along Georgia's coast and they might get crashing waves if a Cat 3 hurricane blew in at high tide. Those are not really typos though, but a matter of poor research.

Another writer had brazier substituted for brassiere. And I've seen a character's name listed incorrectly on the back cover blurb.

I know it's painful for you authors, but I suppose with the huge number of pages published, there's gonna be some errors. But when you point them out and they still don't get changed in reprints, that's gotta be maddening.

Marilyn

Virginia Lady said...

I have to laugh at this post. One of the women in my NaNoWriMo group had finished her story so was reading in our last meeting and she showed us how this particular author's books (library copies) had all been edited in pen by another reader. There were whole passages that were corrected for spelling, grammar, verb tense. It was a horrific example of a book, or rather books since she said she's read a couple of others with the same edits, being rushed to print.

A few mistakes are no big deal, I think, but this book went way beyond that. It was very strange.

And I can feel completely safe in telling you all this since I can't recall either the author or publisher. :-) But I must admit to wanting to let either one know so any future printings could be corrected. The perfectionist in me I suppose.

Susan said...

Hi Susan - Remember me? We were roommates once in, I think California during an RT conference. Anyway, my "best" was in my favorite book, Trouble In Paradise. The hero was so "ready" to make love to the heroine, I had him take his boots off...twice!
Not so bad, though, as they ended up completing each other (my euphemism here) about three time. Ah, lust, when you're hot you're hot. Susan Connell