Re-Re-Re-Research

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.

60 thoughts on “Re-Re-Re-Research

  1. I don’t mention typos to the author. Stopping to write them down would take me out of the story. More serious errors I can usually forgive too, unless it’s something key to the plot and it’s clear the author didn’t know what they were talking about rather than using creative license. That’s only happened once that I can remember, in the days before it would ever occur to me to contact the author. I never would have noticed a Portia/Cordelia mix-up.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hi Marla! If I read in someone else’s book a reference to Portia “knowing” it should have been Cordelia, I probably would have assumed I had it backwards … yanno, since it got written in a book! And for the record, I wouldn’t note every typo if I decided to tell the author. I’d say something like, “Hey, you’re probably already aware, but I saw some typos in your ebook.” If they already knew, they are either fixing them or they can’t fix them. And if they didn’t know, I just handed them something to fret over, or more work for them to do. Which is why I’m just not sure whether to say anything. Would you like readers to point out errors to you?

      Liked by 4 people

      1. If a reader notices a typo in my book, yes, I would love if they emailed me about it. I’m self-pubbed, so it’s easy for me to fix. An email saying “I saw some typos in your ebook” with no specifics is another matter entirely though. What some readers think are typos aren’t. Case in point, I have a reader-reported “quality issue” on my Amazon author dashboard about a supposed typo that’s not a typo. I have explained to Amazon that it’s not a typo and yet the message never goes away.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Ooooh, Marla, good point! I’ve had people point out mistakes that weren’t mistakes too. In fact, that’s why my copy editor emailed me about Portia to begin with! Since it was in dialogue she wanted to make sure that it was intentional on my part, as if the character just didn’t know her Shakespeare. So now that muddies the water even more!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I have noticed that these days so many books have typos. I used to point them out to authors so they could be corrected, but now? There are too many typos. I’m with Marla in that making a note of them takes me out of the story. On the other hand, if it is an author I know, I point it out. That’s what friends are for, right? To point out the little black thingies stuck between your teeth. BTW, anything Shakespeare is above my pay grade. 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

    1. LOL, KJ! I won’t pretend to be a Shakespeare scholar, but I thought I knew King Lear! I don’t know that I’ve ever read or seen Merchant of Venice, however, but I kindasorta knew Portia. It does kinda made you want to question every-little-thing, though! It’s funny you mention the teeth thing. I once chastised hubs for not telling me I had something gross wedged in there. He said, “It didn’t bother me.” *shrug*

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Knowing how often mistakes are found loooong after the “final” processes, I LOVE that so many of you are so generous in letting typos roll off your back! That’s very comforting!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Agree! What a great post, B.

        I don’t tell authors after it’s published, but if I’m reading beforehand and notice it, I’ll highlight.

        Though sometimes things go in after the writers are done with the ms. I was preparing for a reading for one of my books and noticed two changes that I never would have approved. I checked my submitted manuscript and nope, they weren’t there. When I asked about it, no one seemed to know. It’s a MYSTERY.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. I wouldn’t have noticed the Portia/Cordelia mistake. My upcoming book is set in 1942 and as much as I’ve researched things, I’m not a historian so I’m sure I’ve gotten something wrong. And I’m just as sure readers will tell me about it, or give it one star because of it. I would never contact an author about a mistake. We obsess about enough as it is!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ain’t that the truth, Joyce! I admire people who can write historicals because that sounds really hard to me. I would never pick up on anything anachronistic, unless it was completely obvious … like Ayla in Clan of the Cave Bear making coffee in her drip machine … or Jane Eyre slipping on her go-go boots … or Sherlock Holmes firing up wikipedia to check something real quick. I’m writing a story set in the 1970s—a time I was a sentient being, mind you—and I’m still having trouble!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve had readers point out typos to me (those stubborn, triumphant ones that survive multiple critique group readings, beta readings, edits, and proofreading to still make it into print…give them kudos for their sheer determination!), but my traditional publisher refused to make corrections even in the eBooks. So I was left to beat my head on my desk in frustration. Therefore, I do NOT point them out to the author. And I simply, as stated, give kudos to the typos for surviving the gauntlet.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I love that, Annette! It’s so true how tenacious they are. How DARE we snuff out their stubborn, triumphant existence?? And your situation is exactly why I’m reticent about pointing out any errors … even though they CAN be corrected doesn’t mean they WILL be corrected.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Jen, I’m pretty sure the mechanism is the same for indie publishers and for traditional. Whoever uploads the file has access and can make the changes. An indie publisher has more vested in the process perhaps. These are our babies, after all, but the staff at a trad publisher has moved on to the next projects.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Having self-published my latest book, I can attest to this being true. We can even correct the print version and re-upload it. But traditional publishers aren’t going to invest the time and energy.

        Liked by 4 people

  5. Typos and errors? I will notice them. Unless it’s my own writing, then there are none! My eye sees what is supposed to be there, not what actually is there. Lol!
    Typos I ignore, unless it makes me misunderstand something.
    Errors? I’m a little quirky about it. I will notice them, say wtf, and research. I don’t contact the author unless it is really important. Like everyone and his brother will notice the error, then I give a heads up.
    For example, I read a book in a vintage timeframe about a year ago where someone gave a high-five. It stopped me in my tracks. That was wrong. The high-five hadn’t been created yet. I researched it, and found out the motion hadn’t been “invented” (first known admittance to the event) until 5 years after the story was set.
    I’m weird like that.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. You have more energy than I do, Hestia! You’re like my husband who will rouse himself from his comfy reading spot to go to the dictionary on the bookshelf to look up an unfamiliar word. I prefer the “get the gist of it from context and so what if I’m wrong” route instead.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Typos are the bane of my existence. For some idiotic reason, I named the protagonists of both my series names that begin with M. I’m the FIRST page of the FIRST Catering Hall, Maggie gets out of bed. Problem is, the series protagonist is named Mia. None of us caught it. Beta readers, agent, editor, me, copy editors.

    But I would have caught Portia v. Cordelia!

    Liked by 5 people

  7. I would have noticed the Portia/Cordelia mix up – but I studied Shakespeare in college and have a master’s degree in English. I may not be “normal” in that regard.

    I do notice things like typos and mistakes. Typos don’t generally bother me – I’ve found them in “big name” books like Harry Potter. Factual mistakes…well, the nature of the mistake goes a long way toward how I feel. Mix up the way of addressing a Duke or an Earl? Meh. Egregious things like your police character shoots someone in the morning and is back on the beat after lunch? Sorry, buh-bye.

    I do not, however, point out these things to authors. Especially typos. I’ve had them pointed out to me, and I just smile and say thanks. As Annette said, if they survive all the pre-publication work to eradicate them, they get props for their determination to survive.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I guess the real question is … would you have told ME about the Portia/Cordelia thing, Liz? I mean, we’re friends, and you’re smarter than I am. Is your reticence to keep from hurting my feelings (see previous sentence), or is it because you’d think I couldn’t fix it anyway? That’s the murky area I find myself in when I read books written by friends. Sigh.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. I feel ya, Becky. I cringe knowing that Liz has the opportunity to read even one sentence of mine! She scares me! I’m sure she is quite the sweetheart, but damn is she highly intelligent! You are too, but I love the words you create. You write like you speak–ferpetessake! Oh, and we need more than a like button here- we need a laughter emoji. Just throwing that out there- not that you can create one.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. <<>>

    It depends on the mistake. I would have likely missed your Portia/Cordelia mistake entirely. OTOH, mistakes that are genre-related, like silenced revolvers or mangling the law to make a plot work lead to a loss of my respect for the writer because they indicate laziness, or a lack of respect for the reader’s intelligence. As for typos, they happen. I’ve even had typos I did not commit introduced into my work during publication.

    <<>>

    Absolutely, although I’d rather they don’t take a cheap shot in a published review. An email or a message through my contact form on my website indicates respect for me as a writer, while I consider a gotcha review self-glorification at my expense. My Natalie McMasters series is self-published, so I can actually correct typos in the version offered for sale. However, I would not correct a content mistake unless I was issuing a second edition.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree, Tom … those reviews that take obvious glee in pointing out typos are annoying. I never read my own reviews, but when I read someone else’s reviews I discount those kind entirely as simply sour grapes, assuming the reviewer was a disgruntled writer taking out some frustrations on someone else.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I read so many Netgalley arcs that I’ve gotten used to ignoring typos, unless the book is riddled with them. Then I get a bit annoyed since it’s obvious the publisher rushed to get it out. As a self-published author, I’d hope that friends would point out errors since I can correct it myself and re-upload. I know errors happen no matter how many professional editors go through my manuscript.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That’s interesting, Kim. I hadn’t thought about how reading so many beta versions and ARCs might change the way I read final copies as well. I hear you about ARCs, though. I know they’re not in final form, but the whole point in producing them is to get them into the hands of readers for some pre-pub publicity. You’d think they’d want them as close as possible to final form!

      Liked by 3 people

  10. I noticed that Portia isn’t in King Lear, but I, too was a lit major.

    As for typos in my own books, there are a few, and I don’t mind folks pointing them out. Problem is, if the book doesn’t go into a second printing, ya can’t fix ’em. And good luck getting your publisher to fix it in the ebook….

    Liked by 5 people

    1. As a hybrid author, I have both traditional publishers and I publish independently. It would really frustrate me if my trad publisher refused to fix something egregious because it’s not at all difficult to fix an ebook. That said, I have a typo in my “Eight Weeks to a Complete Novel” book that I haven’t fixed. But that’s just because I’m lazy and it’s not egregious. *shrug*

      Liked by 4 people

  11. Typos happen. I pin that on the copy editor more than the author. (Maybe because I’m an author?) Unless it’s confusing, I read right over typos. I think most readers do.
    My Shakespeare is rusty, so I would’ve missed the name discrepancy. Plus, if Becky Clark says something with authority, I absolutely believe it! 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. LOL, Vickie! You and my dad would have gotten along great! I think you’re right about most readers just glossing over mistakes. Plus, it’s true that we read what’s “supposed” to be there versus what’s actually written. Human nature, and definitely what happens when you’re an avid reader.

      Liked by 3 people

  12. I’ll only tell you if it’s an advanced copy! And I always put notes to the publisher in Netgalley books. But after publication, nah!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think that’s a perfect compromise! When you tell the publisher via netgalley, do they respond? Have you ever noticed they’ve made the changes in the final copy?

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m with Vickie! I always think it’s the copy editor who left those typos in–or the whole it-goes-through-so-many-people thing before the book gets published. To be honest, though, typos do pop out at me, but I still skip over them. Unless there are a TON.

    As for the King Lear reference, I’ve only read Merchant of Venice, so I’d probably figure Shakespeare reused a name.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Okay, honest truth: When you said “Portia,” I immediately thought of Ellen D’s wife. A lot of women’s names end in “ia” in the works of Shakespeare. (Voice a la The Godfather): Portia, Cordelia, Ophelia… But not you, Juliet, and my fave, poor Lady MacBeth who has no other name.) No one pointed that out to Ol’ Will, I bet. I’m firmly in the camp of Blame the Copyeditor–or, even more so, the Proofreader. Authors and editors are so close to the mss., and they have read them so many times…So no, I wouldn’t mention to an author friend, and certainly not to a stranger. As Tom said, sometimes typos weirdly appear later in the production process. And I can’t think of a single publisher I’ve worked for who actually made a correction of a typo, unless it was obscene or slanderous. Those correction requests go straight to the (revolving) “reprint file.” A. Money B. Time C. They don’t care.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. “Sure, we’ll get right on that typo. Thanks for letting us know,” said no publishing house ever.

      I’ve had new typos show up weirdly long after people have finished touching the ms (or so I thought). But now, I know to blame that rapscallion, Will Shakespeare!

      Liked by 3 people

  15. Dear Bekcy, (Yes, I did that on purpose)
    I’m afraid your oops would have blown right past me, I’m not a Willy Boy fan, I’m Chaucer. If authors, editors, and publishers make a mistake-typo or otherwise, I am usually just fine, we’re human. If the entire word is botched and it makes me stop and think what the author is trying to say, then I may be a little irked, but I’m certainly not going to stop reading that author. The Three Divine Beings – The Holy Trinity (author, editor, and publisher), if you will- get an eye roll and I just move on. My grammar leaves a lot to be desired as well as my atrocious spelling at times. I’m human too. Just please don’t rat me out to my English professors! That was my major, and my profs are mostly still alive.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Fab post, Becky, and what a thinker for me! To err is human. (I would have attributed that to Shakespeare, but I had to look it up to verify. It’s Pope! And funnily enough, I had a Shakespeare error I caught late in the proofing phase! Ah, the Bard.) Aaaaaaaaaanyway…I typo. I also wordo. I always give grace and save my annoyance for huge, glaring errors that impact the story. (Like Liz’s example.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I definitely wordo too! The Bard is just so annoyingly quotable, eh? If it’s not him, it’s Mark Twain. At least until some proofreader tells me otherwise, of course.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. What an informative post. It is so true that research is the main ingredient for a good mystery (any topic, for that matter). I think I have an advantage for remembering this because I am not only an author, but a PhD student and research tends to be my middle name. BTW, I would have totally guessed that it was Portia too… oopsy. You have a gem in Rebecca though. Can I borrow her lol Blessings and honor, Christine C Sponsler

    Like

    1. Thanks, Christine! Every author needs a Rebecca in their life … makes things much easier! I typically love research, but my memory is like a sieve, which is why Cordelia wiggled out like so much limp spaghetti!

      Liked by 1 person

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