When typos (funny or otherwise) show up in published books…

I never make typos

Okay, so here’s the deal…in the publishing business, typos and errors happen. No matter how many times a manuscript’s been read by an author, critique partners, beta readers, or how many edits it’s been through, it’s almost impossible to publish a perfect book. I know. I’ve been on both sides of the equation–as an author and as an editor. Mistakes pop up in published books all the time. Those of us in the writing industry wish they didn’t (believe me…we all really, REALLY wish they didn’t), but, such is the writer’s life.

As a reader, admittedly it’s miserable trying to slog through a book that’s overflowing with typos and grammatical errors. As an author, there’s nothing more humbling than finding your own typos AFTER a book has already been published or, worse, having a reader or reviewer contact you to tell you about your typos/mistakes, or, worse still, getting publicly slammed for them in a review. Yet, sadly, it’s a reality all authors face from time to time.

smiling faces typo McDonald's

Let me say it again…errors happen. I’ve made some doozies over the years. Lots and lots of them. So many I couldn’t possibly remember them all. From silly typos that completely changed the meaning of a sentence, to garbled words that spell-check (and proofreading) didn’t catch, to continuity errors in series books, to name changes, to duplicate words, to missed (or too much) punctuation, I’ve experienced it all. Here are a few examples from my own published work…

In my Draegan Lords series (first, original editions):

–In True of Heart, Wen’s younger brother Jarrad is mentioned twice and the spelling of his name is Jarad, with one R. In all the rest of the books in the series his name is spelled Jarrad with two Rs. (Apparently I decided I liked the look of two Rs but never bothered to see how I’d spelled it in the first book.)

–In Lords of Kellesborne, Allend (one of Jarrad and Wen’s younger brothers) is mentioned by name for the first time in the series. When he comes on page, I say he’s the youngest brother. There are four brothers, so that implies Allend is the fourth. Later in the same book I say he’s his mother’s “younger” son, which is more wishy-washy. But then in Fires of Ballian, he’s listed as the third son, and the fourth and youngest son is finally given the name Edric. (I didn’t notice these continuity errors until I was reading the first three books in the series before I re-released them, years after they were originally published. Ack!)

In Music of the Night (first, original edition):

–In some of the first ebook copies released of Music of the Night, there are a handful of mentions of the name “Max.” That’s because one of the main heroes, Sam, was originally called Max while I was writing the book. But as I was finishing the final chapter I realized I had already written a story with a main character named Max (it was a hetero romance many years ago, but I have a thing about not re-using a main protagonist’s name) so I did a search and replace and Max became Sam. Which I actually liked better for that character anyway. Unfortunately, when I read the galley (the last phase before publication), I was tweaking a few things and, because I’d written the whole novella calling that character “Max,” I inadvertently typed “Max” a few times. I didn’t catch it, so the book was released with poor Sam being a Max in two or three places. As soon as a reader pointed it out, thankfully my publisher made the changes for me.

In Wanting (first, original edition):

During a sex scene, the words on the page said: This time Jeremy concentrated and pulled air into his legs.

Say what?! Is he a blow-up doll now? LOL! Obviously this was a huge typo that should have been “lungs” instead of “legs.”

I’m sure most authors are aware of or have had to fix errors like these in some of their own stories. I read each of the books above probably a dozen or more times (sometimes lots more) before I ever submitted them, my critique partners read them, as did my editors, and then I read them all again during the editing phases and at the galley stage…yet, holy crap. 🙂

employment wanted typos

Trust me when I say that no author (or publisher, or editor) wants to see a book go out with errors in it. That said, we all know it’s inevitable and that it’s almost impossible to catch everything. What we hope for is that if there are typos or mistakes (which there will be), they’re minor and few. The last thing we want is to drive readers crazy or, worse, drive them away from us forever because of sloppy writing and proofreading.

misspelled bird

If you’re a reader and you come across a doozy or two (or, gods forbid, a whole slew of them), most authors appreciate a private email or message telling us what you’ve found. Yes, as I said above, it’s humbling, but most of us would rather be humbled by a private, polite note from a reader telling us our character has become a blow-up doll because of a typo, so we can fix it immediately, rather than having a reviewer give us a one-star rating and question our intelligence because of that selfsame typo. (Hey, it happens!) Many authors never read their own books again once they’re published, so they may not even realize there is a problem unless someone alerts them to it.

If a book is an indie, then as self-published authors we can usually fix errors immediately and re-upload the corrected version to vendors within a few hours, both for ebooks and POD (print-on-demand). It can take a bit longer with a publisher, assuming the publisher is willing to make changes. On occasion, a publisher won’t fix little typos because it takes man hours to correct even minor issues, do all new formatting, and re-upload to vendors, and if they do traditional print (rather than POD) and a print run’s already completed, they may not be able to fix the print version at all. If that’s the case, please don’t take it out on the author if they have no control over their publisher’s correction policy. Once the author is aware of a mistake, they can at least make a note of it and get it fixed before a second edition is released.

Let me end this by saying, yes, errors, typos, and goofy mistakes suck. For everyone. The good news is that most issues in books can be fixed. Unlike, say….other, not-so-easily corrected typos… 😉

regret nothing tattoo typo


Author: mlrhodes

Author M.L. Rhodes writes bestselling m/m romance and fantasy novels. She's also a mom, a rescuer of fur babies, a geek, and a damn fine margarita maker.

14 thoughts

    1. I laughed until I nearly cried. I will never over think again. My third publication has been released and I was ready to revise the tag “Mother Earth” as Mother ‘earth’…lower case e. Mea culpa!. Thank you for beating your soul.

  1. Thanks for the comments. I just received a complementary copy of my first book, Galactic Passages: Planet 6333 yesterday. Despite all the effort, there is a word that is the wrong tense, a few things repeated in a slightly different way, and the use of too many exclamation points. (The exclamation points were put in by my teenage son, my co-author. On one hand, there’s too many. On the other, it’s sort of endearing; like putting a stamp on his work).

    I’ve recalled the book before, and the publisher wasn’t happy.

    Do you suggest I recall the book again, (4th time), or send it out?

    1. Hi Dean! I agree about the exclamation points being your son’s stamp on his work and think it’s pretty cool. 🙂 As far as recalling the book to fix the errors…. If you’ve done it before and the publisher wasn’t happy, then at this point, unless you found something horrifically wrong (missing paragraphs or something) I would leave it as is. As I said in my blog post, errors happen. We all have them in our books, no matter how many times we’ve had them read, edited, proofed before release. For the things you mentioned above, no, I wouldn’t worry about them. Those are minor things. If you were self published, you could easily fix them yourself and re-upload your book to vendors. But it takes man hours for a publisher to do it, and it’s not something they typically like to do unless they really have to. You can always make a note somewhere for yourself what things you’d like to change someday in a future edition of the book. 🙂

  2. Hi! I am thrilled to have come across this blog. I know as a self published Author I can correct the mistakes found but what if there is one mistake and I also want to elaborate on another point? (Mine is a how to book) Do I have to issue it as a second edition? Also, for those that have already purchased the book and the fact that this is a tutorial, do I email the purchasers with the corrected pages? UGH! Please help!

    1. Hi Deborah! Without knowing the specific mistake you’ve found or how much more you want to elaborate on a point, it’s hard to answer your question for certain. So my advice is this… If it’s a minor typing or grammatical mistake, it’s up to you, as an indie author, whether you want to take the time to fix it and re-upload the book file. If you do, you certainly don’t need to label it as a second edition…it’s just a first edition with a correction and, as such, not a huge deal. 🙂

      As far as elaborating on a point…do you feel it’s something really critical and the point, as you currently have it, isn’t understandable without it? Or is it something that you would like to add but it isn’t absolutely necessary? If you feel it’s super urgent and the how-to can’t be understood without elaboration, then you can certainly correct it and re-upload. If it’s not critical, then you could always elaborate in a blog post for your readers. IF you decide to tweak things and re-upload, unless it’s a fairly major change, I probably wouldn’t label it as a second edition. I mean, if you’re only adding a sentence or two and fixing an error, then a new edition (in my opinion) wouldn’t be necessary. On the other hand, if you’re planning to do a lot of major rewriting, then it would be your call, but yes, possibly, you might want to label it as a second edition.

      If you’re publishing through Amazon, once you make a change and re-upload your book file, any new buyers will receive the new, corrected version. Past buyers typically will not (as I understand it, anyway). However, I believe you can contact Amazon and tell them if you’ve made a major correction and they may, at their discretion, issue the new, fixed version to past buyers. But I don’t believe it’s something that happens automatically, and they possibly will only do it if it’s a major change/correction. If it’s something minor, they probably won’t. You can take comfort, though, in knowing anyone else who buys it going forward will have the corrected version.

      Hope this helps! And, keep in mind this is only my opinion, so your mileage may vary and others might give you different feedback.

  3. Further to my previous comment, on the books I have left that I paid dearly for, on the one mistake can I paste a typed piece of paper with the correction over the error?

    1. I would not do this, fwiw. You want your book to have as professional an appearance as possible, and this would detract from that. Better to have a small error and leave it as is than to paste something over it. Just know that errors happen in books all the time and virtually no reader is going to ding you if they find one little mistake. 🙂 Simply correct the error in the book file and, the next time you place an order for books, you’ll receive the new version.

  4. Thank you! Appreciate your info. I did already implement an errata sheet into my book and received tons of great advice from various support groups including yours. 🙂

  5. This is a wonderful piece. Thank you so much. I’ve just finished my first-published book and it was edited to within an inch of its life; yet it still had errors. I’m just hoping people will forgive me, and I’ll correct them the next run (if there is one).

  6. I just published my first book, and this is encouraging to me. After publishing it, I noticed 4 errors. Eek! It is an author’s worst nightmare. But this made me laugh–especially the blow up doll part. Thanks for your honesty and encouragement.

  7. Hello! Would love some advice. I recently ghost wrote a book for a non-profit organization. When it was published, the in-text citations were lost. It has endnotes, but no referencial citations. I am horrified. Reprints are not an option at this time. How bad would it be to create an insert (matching the design of the book) which connects the 67 endnotes to the corresponding text/ page numbers?

  8. Great, honest piece. My first book (LGBTQ – Historical Fiction) is already on Amazon and Waterstones, though not available until 10 June. 300 are already printed. My partner has read it and has found some errors of idiom rather than typos, though he says they haven’t prevented him from enjoying the story. English is my second language and although the book had some editing (paid for by me), the editor missed out quite a lot and I had to sub-edit the editor. Publisher (hybrid) is happy with it but I’m not sure I am. I have the financial means to re-print the copies but that would mean another long delay and heaven knows what. This is not a career move. I’ve enjoyed writing the book and just wanted people to enjoy reading it, but now I’m a bit concerned of being the target of an open season of sneering reviews (The ‘don’t quit your day job’ type).
    Anyone’s thoughts?

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