Sheesh, how many times you gotta check facts??

I got an email recently from Rebecca, my production editor. She was alerting me that I might have a mistake in the manuscript for FATAL SOLUTIONS, the third Crossword Mystery that comes out in November.

She was getting it ready to go to typesetting, but something caught her eye.

In one scene Quinn Carr, my main character, was talking to her parents and said, “Did you want it to be a secret, so we don’t have a King Lear situation? Do you want me to go all Portia on you and publicly declare my love before I can get my share of the kingdom?”

Rebecca pointed out that Portia was a character from Merchant of Venice, but Cordelia, from King Lear, was the one it seemed I was referencing.

Mind you, everyone and their hair stylist has read this manuscript, and this didn’t jump out at any of us. Rebecca wanted to ask me about it, though, because of the possibility that it was Quinn’s mistake instead of mine.

Alas and alack, ‘twas mine own mistake.

I clearly felt so confident of my Portia reference, I didn’t even fact check it. If I had done the simplest thing and typed “Portia King Lear” into a search engine, the mistake would have been obvious. And I don’t blame anyone else for going along with my mistake because my daddy always told me, “You can say anything if you say it with authority.”

I’m thankful the mistake was caught early, but I wonder what would have happened. Would I have been buried under a deluge of hate mail from Shakespeare scholars? Would readers have fallen under my diabolical spell whereby I say wrong stuff with complete bravado, thus rendering it impervious to fact-checking?

Would anyone notice? Would anyone complain?

Neither Portia nor Cordelia is germane to my story. It’s not like mixing up weaponry in a police procedural, or sending your characters east into the sunset, or making a crossword puzzle without rotational symmetry or connectivity, ferpetesake. Some facts matter more.

I worry about typos in my books as much as I do factual errors. Weirdly though, mistakes don’t bother me in books by other authors.

Recently I read a published ebook that had a ton of typos in it. I registered the mistakes as I read, but didn’t particularly care about them. It didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story. But I did wonder if I should mention it to the author, a friend of mine.

I ultimately decided not to, but I’m vacillating because I would want people to tell me if there were typos—or incorrect Shakespearian references—in my books. Mistakes can almost always be fixed these days, especially in ebooks.

But now I’m wondering … what do YOU do when you find mistakes—substantive or typos—in published books you read? Where are you on the scale from “meh, don’t care” to “throw the book across the room and vow to never read a book by that author ever again”?

In case you were wondering, Nala is clearly in the “beleaguered by typos” camp. Her manuscripts would be perfect…if only she had thumbs.

18 thoughts on “Re-Re-Re-Research”

  1. Carol Evelyn DeBeradinis

    Typos don’t tend to bother me too much. I don’t usually find many when I am reading. Grammatical errors bother me more. But if it fits the character, I am very forgiving. I would never stop reading a particular author because of it unless the books were filled with errors. None of us are perfect, authors or readers.
    When I read your blog and read the Portia reference, the first thing to pop into my head was, “Wasn’t Portia in the Merchant of Venice? I never read King Lear, but I did read Merchant of Venice. What surprised me most of all, was that I read that play back in 1968. Portia must have made an impact on me. But in reading the book, I would have noticed, but moved on to the rest of the story. I don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is too short.

    1. That’s so funny, Carol! Between the two of us, we’re Shakespeare scholars. At least about King Lear and Merchant of Venice. If you don’t count having to remember everything ….

      I try not to sweat the small stuff too. As my grandma used to say, “And it’s all small stuff!”

  2. Honestly Becky, had you not pointed that out, I’d never have known. I don’t know anything about Shakespeare other than the basics of Romeo & Juliet we had to read for high school, lol. I’m just your average cozy-loving fan who doesn’t nitpick (unless it’s written in present tense and I avoid it, or the dialogue is stilted aka not using enough contractions-neither of which are things you do) 🙂

    1. You don’t like books written in present tense? That’s interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone voice an opinion about that. What is it you don’t like about it?

      The stilted dialogue is really a deal-breaker for me too. I’ve never understood how an author can be a member of the human race and not have an ear for dialogue.

  3. I have to put a ‘note’ in my kindle app, otherwise I feel I failed. No idea why I must note this….but I do…

    1. LOL, Theresa! But you’re making a note to yourself? Telling yourself something you already know? Color me puzzled. But I do like your self-awareness!

  4. Typo’s don’t usually bother me unless there are an unusual amount of them. I get into the story and enjoy it so a few don’t really bother me. We are all human and mistakes happen.
    I would never stop reading books due to a few typos. I never find very many in your books and I love your books. I’m waiting patiently for your next book.

    1. Thanks, Patricia! I guess it would be different if there were a ton of typos AND the story was boring. Then I’d probably care more.

  5. I usually circle the page number- lightly, in pencil – and maybe put a small arrow along where the mistake is (this is if I find typos). I do this in books I own, which are rarely read by others, but in case I ever do lend them, it feels right to have noted it (and usually it’s just for my sense of satisfaction/ correctness).

  6. Cheryl Arcemont

    Unless there are a huge amount of “silly” errors (using a he instead of she, name mistake of very minor character, question mark after quote mark instead of before) I rarely notice and understands everybody makes mistakes now and then including authors, editors, and proofreaders! Now if the mistakes are concerning main characters, location wrong, repeats of same errors, and makes the story difficult to navigate I will contact the author and let them know.
    Just my humble opinion. 😉

    1. Personally, I’d like to be told of anything substantive that a reader finds. For my final FINAL proof, I try to read straight through the manuscript without stopping. That’s how I find continuity errors, and, she said proudly, why my drafts are fairly clean when I submit them. But stuff still sneaks through!

  7. Rosemary Bierbaum

    Maybe itks due to having attended Catholic school from grades K-12 with red-pencil-happy nuns grading my papers, maybe it’s because of my mother having been an English teacher, maybe it’s because my Irish father had been educated in England, where they’re very particular about such things, but whatever caused it, errors of grammar, punctuation, and spelling simply set my teeth on edge!
    It’s a curse, I tell you! When I’m reading on my Kindle I have to make the corrections before I can go back to peacefully enjoying the book, and when I’m reading on my iPad I have to do deep breathing exercises to let it go!
    My four kids all inherited the trait, although I don’t know if it was due to genetics or browbeating!

  8. Victoria Clark

    From an editorial perspective, I just saw a quote that I’ll think of every day now: Editing is just looking things up until you die.

    While I am tolerant of typos, they make me wonder how/why it happened, and too many can easily take me out of the reading. I know I’ve certainly had to do a rushed edit and felt less confident that I fixed what was needed. But other times, after the fourth read through I find something I should have caught. As for your mistake, I probably would have guessed that’s exactly what happened. Excellent catch!

    1. That’s a great quote! Its corollary is: Writing is having homework every day until you die.

      Having to rush through an edit gives me sweaty palms. (Which I just had to correct from psalms. Which spellcheck would have missed! Now my palms are sweaty….)

  9. I can skip over typos but using the wrong word in the context annoys. A common one is wearily vs warily. If authors want to have this sort of thing brought to their attention I am happy to oblige. But I leave the typos to the editors.

    1. But wearily vs warily might have been a typo! It’s only one letter off. And maybe the sleuth approached the dark basement staircase wearily instead of warily because she was EXHAUSTED always having to go find a bad guy in the basement!

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