Last week I attended a workshop on book marketing during which someone asked the group if they knew anyone who had ever published a totally mistake-free book. Well, I certainly was not one to jump out of my seat and yell, “oooh, oooh, call on me!” In fact, if the question had been asked if anyone ever published a book and a year later was still discovering errors in it, well, then I may have sheepishly raised my hand and admitted it.
The only thing that helps me deal with my mistake-prone publishing experience is the fact that I have discovered even the big boys and girls at prestigious publishing houses are just as capable of having something slip through the proofing process. That’s why it is not so unusual to pick up a New Times best-seller and, yep, right their on page 264 is this glaring fopa.
I know there are some people who think they are finished with a writing task once spell-check has scanned through every word. The problem with spell-check, as everyone eventually finds out, is that it is not flawless and cannot differentiate among the different correct spellings of a word. Hence, correct usage of their vs. there vs. they’re goes unchecked.
No one beats him/herself up as much as I do when I come upon a mistake in one of my books. It’s a devastating and embarrassing moment with “I can’t believe this is happening again” undertones. So, you can imagine the tantrum I threw last night when I discovered a mistake in my new, just-relaesed book, Anchor. What is especially disturbing about this mistake is that I took a few extra measures this time to ensure that it did NOT happen. I even missed Anchor’s original publication deadline because I decided to read the entire book one more time knowing I would find that one mistake “that got away.”
Well, good for me, this extra read actually uncovered more than one such “got away’s.” BUT, it missed one too…at least I hope it was only one. The irony, and nasty insult, was that this particular mistake is a lone missing “a” …AND IT WAS IN THE VERY FIRST LINE OF THE PREFACE AT THE FRONT OF THE BOOK.
Fortunately, my book is “POD” which means print-on-demand. Unlike traditional book-making, a copy of Anchor is printed only when one is ordered (demanded). Consequently, I don’t have twenty cartons of the mistake stacked up in every corner of the house. I just have twenty copies of it stacked on the shelf of a closet. All I have to do is upload a new, corrected file to my publisher and within a day or two anyone ordering the book will get this latest version. Will it be totally mistake-free? Im knot saying.