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 … Readers, 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”? Writers, do you want people to tell you about mistakes in your books?
In case you were wondering, Nala is clearly in the “beleaguered by typos” camp. Her manuscripts would be perfect…if only she had thumbs.