Not the catchiest title, I admit. But I’m here to share how a royal screw up of mine added a gloriously horrific typo to my book AFTER it had been laboriously proofread and judged error free. And I did it as part of the process, not on a whim. Well, okay, there were whims involved, but only by following my process did I allow the whim the window of opportunity, and then fell victim to it, all unawares, because we writers are all too often blind to our own typographic errors.
An explanation. My book was proofed, complete, done. Being an idiot perfectionist, (is there another kind?), I decided to give the old text a last read through before sending it off to be formatted, just to be sure, you see. And I came to this page near the end of the book, a page I really wanted to work very well. And I saw a clunky word repetition I had not spotted before, in my four thousand odd read-throughs and edits. So, ignoring the voice in my head that said not to mess with my proofed text, I yanked and prodded and pulled and messed with the four to five paragraph span that included the offending repetitions. I succeeded in removing the awkward phrasing that led to the necessity for the repeated word, and made, I hoped, the action flow more smoothly on the page, more intensely into the reader’s cortex.
However, in my quest for heightened elegance, I missed a “the” that should have been a “to”. I read the section over many times. I kept missing it. After the formatting was done and I’d sent in minor corrections (worried that such late tiny tweaks might themselves create mistakes in the text or alter my intended meaning there or elsewhere in the book) I still missed it.
So I published the book. People read it, shared their thoughts.
Then one good friend pointed out my error, a detail hound to whom I am very grateful.
Now, I’ve no doubt there may be other typos in the text, despite all my efforts, and perhaps because of my other late changes after the proofing was done, but this, this one hurt, given where it lay. I could not believe I’d marred such a pivotal scene. There were expletives and the palming of faces.
The face-palming quickly passed. The joy of self-publishing is that such mistakes can be readily rectified. The error has been erased, as though it never was. Which means, for my chums and pals who bought the first paper and hard back editions of The Killer and The Dead – that you are now in possession of a collector’s item! Glory in the ownership of the rare “the” to” edition that shall be highly sought after once my literary ship comes in. Bravo! One day, we will all be tremendously rich! Huzzah! I promise now I shall never reinsert said typo just to run off a few more dodgy copies for my own benefit!
Seriously though, my apologies for the mistake, it should not have slipped through the net, but it did, for the reasons explained above. I hope possessing a rare collector’s edition kind of makes up for it.
And no, I’m not going to say exactly where the typo was. If you have it, you’ll know it as it clubs you in the eye. Happy reading!