typos

Missing the “B”

Have a close look at these two images and see if you can spot a significant difference between them.

The Nexus corrected

Image #1

 

The Nexus

Image #2

OK, the title and the author’s name are a lighter colour in #1, but that isn’t it. No, it’s the typo in the subtitle. “A portal to the Herert West Series.” A typo on a cover image! A cover image designed by the author herself, i.e., moi.

AAARGH!

I published this short story in September — six whole months ago — and didn’t notice that error until last night, when I ran across the cover image on some website. I was admiring how all the elements worked together, when I saw it. “Herert,” not “Herbert.” I messed up the name of the main character of my series. How bad is that?

I’ve seen typos on other authors’ cover images or in their book listings, with a mixture of pity and contempt. “Look how that poor schmuck screwed up! Haste makes waste. Ha, ha!”

OK, it could have been worse; at least the typo isn’t in the actual title or the author’s name. And the font I used for the subtitle is called Sacramento, described as “a monoline, semi-connected script.” It’s pretty, but barely legible in thumbnails and other small images. At least I spelled everything correctly in the book’s listings in ebook stores. Maybe most people don’t bother to enlarge cover images and scrutinize them.

I have, of course, corrected the error and uploaded the corrected image to the relevant sites. But it takes a while for a change to trickle through the internet, and quite a few copies were downloaded before I found the mistake. Which means the flawed image is still out there, waiting to be noticed.

I did manage to find a couple of positives in this irritating little situation:

First, it’s a reminder to pay attention. Always double, triple and quadruple check the spelling of titles, subtitles, author names and any other text that appears on a cover. Whether it was designed by you, a friend or a professional designer — before you approve it, check, check, check!

Second, those error-bearing covers may become valuable rarities sought by collectors, sort of like postage stamps with a monarch’s head printed upside down. “Ah yes, the rare ‘Herert’ edition. Very few exist.” Well, maybe if I become posthumously famous. You never know.

Advertisements

Back to the Comma Bucket: the Perils of Hasty Editing

A while ago I bemoaned the loss of a lot of edits when I copied an old version of a file over the new one instead of the other way around. Having to do all that editing over again meant that I did it at lightning speed, creating fresh new errors in the process. A few days ago I decided to have a quick read of Hunting the Phoenix, the ebook that was the object of all this editing, and discovered a few embarrassing mistakes — “was been” (from changing things like “had been” to “was”), missing words and punctuation and other instances of sloppy deletion.

So I turned my quick read into a slow one, finding and correcting perhaps a dozen of these small but irritating errors and picking off dozens of superfluous commas at the same time. Editing has been on my mind for a while, so this was a useful exercise in more ways than one.

Writers are constantly advised to hone their craft. Part of the honing process is learning how to edit. Yes, you can hire someone to do that, but it’s an essential writerly skill. Even if you choose not to edit your own writing, you can perhaps help someone else with theirs. (Just here I’ll throw out an observation that as far as I know there is no accrediting body for editors, so you can’t be sure that the person you hire is any better than you).

The order in which you do different kinds of editing is important. Don’t bother with line editing right after you’ve finished your first draft. Not even your second, third or fourth draft. Save it until you’re happy with the structure of your novel — the plot, the characters, the pacing, the way the scenes unfold. At that point it’s worthwhile to focus on grammar, punctuation, superfluous words and other niceties.

Now, after several more hours of intense and focussed work, I’m fairly sure I’ve corrected my errors without making new ones. The comma bucket is overflowing and I’m about to re-upload my Phoenix to fly unburdened into e-readers and imaginations.