January 4th, 2010 / 9:47 am
Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes

Every Book and Magazine with Typos/Errors?

I am reading Face by Alexie and on page 35 there is a sentence that needs indenting. This a game, finding these tiny errors, locating them in magazines, canonical works, some huge publisher.

One part of me—the part editing The Broken Plate and about to teach about copy-editing—is paranoid. Many magazines feel less (or no) errors are related to the quality of the publication.

Some feel like a typo in a book is a human gesture, a beautiful mole, unsymmetrical ears, the smudge in the painting, the flaw that makes the thing.

How much is on the editor, the writer?

How closely do you look at your galleys (if you get them)?

Do you have a technique to catch errors? The writer, too near, as the worst diagnostic?

War story? One time a magazine had my word “years” changed to “ears.” That smarted a bit. Years, ears…

You?

(image by Mr. Eggers)

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69 Comments

  1. Roxane Gay

      It is so hard to publish an error free book or magazine. When I was younger and more arrogant I used to copy edit mass market paperbacks and return them to the publisher. I grew out of that. I looked at the PANK 4 proofs today and saw an error in the TOC, something I’ve pored over countless times and an error I could have easily overlooked. I’ve come to realize that it is near impossible to publish something completely error free, especially when it is 240 pages long and includes a lot of experimental work. I’ve also found that writers are not as diligent in perusing their galleys as they could be. Sometimes I don’t think they really read them, especially with our print galleys. If there are lots of errors in a publication, I am less inclined to respect the creative work but if there are a few, I shrug it off because, as the saying goes, to err is human.

      We finally have a copy editor on staff, Alicia Kennedy, who is outstanding and I feel she has really helped us step up our game in terms of publishing error free books and magazines. If you’re looking to hire a great, reliable copy editor, we highly recommend her services.

  2. Roxane Gay

      This is something we have run into. There really is nothing you can do, sometimes, particularly when a typo is a word spelled correctly but is still the incorrect word. The eye tends not to catch that sort of thing.

  3. Roxane Gay

      This is something we have run into. There really is nothing you can do, sometimes, particularly when a typo is a word spelled correctly but is still the incorrect word. The eye tends not to catch that sort of thing.

  4. Chris Toll

      Typos bother me, they do. Once I found a typo on the back cover of a book of poems published by a good publisher – the word “taught” was used when it should have been the word “taut” – three or four intelligent people looked at that word and nobody noticed it was wrong? I was going to write to the publisher out of a misguided sense of zeal, but a friend talked me out of it. Later I looked at the publisher’s website and the exact quote was copied from the back cover to the website, typo and all – again two or three intelligent people were involved. Is “taut” a word we’re losing?

  5. Chris Toll

      Typos bother me, they do. Once I found a typo on the back cover of a book of poems published by a good publisher – the word “taught” was used when it should have been the word “taut” – three or four intelligent people looked at that word and nobody noticed it was wrong? I was going to write to the publisher out of a misguided sense of zeal, but a friend talked me out of it. Later I looked at the publisher’s website and the exact quote was copied from the back cover to the website, typo and all – again two or three intelligent people were involved. Is “taut” a word we’re losing?

  6. Adam Robinson
  7. Adam Robinson
  8. Chris Toll

      I was trying to let the innocent remain innocent!

  9. Chris Toll

      I was trying to let the innocent remain innocent!

  10. Isabella

      I received a call for submissions the other day from The Rio Grande Review, a journal associated with the MFA program at UTEP. I count two typos and four grammitical errors in this one letter:

      Dear Friends,

      We thank you for having submitted your work on previous occasions, and we would like to invite you to do so again. Please submit and if possible forward the call to other interested wirters. Thank you

      Dear Writers,

      We are now seeking submissions for our spring edition of Rio Grande Review. This issue is themed around OBSESSION-AVERSION.

      Our idea: Obsessions can be plaguing and oftentimes, dictate the direction and content of our writing. Here are the RGR office we are especially fascinated with the idea that to some degree, all writers are “obsessionists.” What we find even more interesting though, is that at times we become obsessed with our aversions. With this in mind, we’re asking that texts submitted for our Spring 2010 edition consider this dynamic in some fashion. Whether this means writing about an obsessive aversion, an aversion, obsession, or how the two complement and direct/enhance/or inform one another, that’s up to you.

      Deadline: February 5th, 2010.

      To view our complete submissions guidelines, visit our website at http://www.riograndereview.com

      We look forward to reading your submissions!

      Sincerely,

      Rio Grande Review Editors
      Sahalie, Miranda & Silvana

      Is this a record?

  11. Isabella

      I received a call for submissions the other day from The Rio Grande Review, a journal associated with the MFA program at UTEP. I count two typos and four grammitical errors in this one letter:

      Dear Friends,

      We thank you for having submitted your work on previous occasions, and we would like to invite you to do so again. Please submit and if possible forward the call to other interested wirters. Thank you

      Dear Writers,

      We are now seeking submissions for our spring edition of Rio Grande Review. This issue is themed around OBSESSION-AVERSION.

      Our idea: Obsessions can be plaguing and oftentimes, dictate the direction and content of our writing. Here are the RGR office we are especially fascinated with the idea that to some degree, all writers are “obsessionists.” What we find even more interesting though, is that at times we become obsessed with our aversions. With this in mind, we’re asking that texts submitted for our Spring 2010 edition consider this dynamic in some fashion. Whether this means writing about an obsessive aversion, an aversion, obsession, or how the two complement and direct/enhance/or inform one another, that’s up to you.

      Deadline: February 5th, 2010.

      To view our complete submissions guidelines, visit our website at http://www.riograndereview.com

      We look forward to reading your submissions!

      Sincerely,

      Rio Grande Review Editors
      Sahalie, Miranda & Silvana

      Is this a record?

  12. howie good

      belatedly reading chris toll’s comment (i was away for a few days), i was just reminded that i caught a typo (or, more precisely a grammar error) in the promo of my latest academic book (ENTERTAINMENT & ETHICS) on the web site of the publisher. it was a problem of agreement, with media being used as a singular noun. presumably a lot of intelligent — or at least educated — people looked at it before i got an eyeful.

  13. howie good

      belatedly reading chris toll’s comment (i was away for a few days), i was just reminded that i caught a typo (or, more precisely a grammar error) in the promo of my latest academic book (ENTERTAINMENT & ETHICS) on the web site of the publisher. it was a problem of agreement, with media being used as a singular noun. presumably a lot of intelligent — or at least educated — people looked at it before i got an eyeful.

  14. Amy McDaniel

      I found the following in Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer:
      “Lawrence was, in some ways, a relatively careless writer, indifferent, or so he claimed, to the appearance of his words on the page. ‘What do I care if ‘e’ is somewhere upside down, or ‘g’ comes from the wrong fount? I really don’t.’ Needless to say, this easy-going attitude to matters typographical didn’t stop him lambasting publishers for failing to pick up on exactly this kind of mitsakes: without this capacity for energetic self-contradiction there would be no scrimmage.”
      So Dyer is writing about Lawrence’s views on typos, and writes “mitsakes.” What I can’t figure out is whether this is intentional, like a little wink-wink to the reader paying attention. Seems like he’d make it just a bit more obvious if so. Just seems like a weird coincidence if it’s not intentional, as I haven’t noticed any other typos in the book.

  15. Amy McDaniel

      I found the following in Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer:
      “Lawrence was, in some ways, a relatively careless writer, indifferent, or so he claimed, to the appearance of his words on the page. ‘What do I care if ‘e’ is somewhere upside down, or ‘g’ comes from the wrong fount? I really don’t.’ Needless to say, this easy-going attitude to matters typographical didn’t stop him lambasting publishers for failing to pick up on exactly this kind of mitsakes: without this capacity for energetic self-contradiction there would be no scrimmage.”
      So Dyer is writing about Lawrence’s views on typos, and writes “mitsakes.” What I can’t figure out is whether this is intentional, like a little wink-wink to the reader paying attention. Seems like he’d make it just a bit more obvious if so. Just seems like a weird coincidence if it’s not intentional, as I haven’t noticed any other typos in the book.

  16. howie good

      great book either way.

  17. howie good

      great book either way.

  18. Amy McDaniel

      very true

  19. Amy McDaniel

      very true