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 geek, an introvert, a night owl, a potter, and a damn fine margarita maker.

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