Monday, May 05, 2008

The Horror Of Typos

When someone calls to your attention a typographical error in a printed document, how do you respond? Do you shrug it off to someone else's responsibility or leap into action? And what if an even worse situation happens--the person points out the typos in a very public forum--yet doesn't bother to send the information directly to you? It may sound far-fetched but it does happen as you will see in this true story. One of the truths that I've learned about publishing and writing is that the devil is in the details.

At a rare moment, I look at the customer reviews of some of my current books which are listed on Amazon. I have the active books organized in my Amazon profile so it's pretty simple to check them. In past entries, I've written about the Amazon Short program and in particular, my Amazon Short, Straight Talk From The Editor, 18 Keys To A Rejection-Proof Submission. For the first six months of their contract, Amazon had an exclusive on this project but then it switched to a non-exclusive relationship. It continues to sell on Amazon yet you can get the same material free at this location. Because I have the source document for my version, I can easily update it and keep it current. Also the links inside this version are "clickable" something that Amazon doesn't allow with their Amazon Shorts. While the text is the same, the format and appearance is different to make the two products distinct.

Imagine my horror when I read the four star review from Desert Gal dated February 17, 2008 which had the headline, "Good Tips...Poor Spelling." I appreciated the kind words then I read the details of the second paragraph. When I opened my version and searched for the specifics from Desert Gal, yes, I located these misspelled words in the Amazon Short. It has been well over a year since I've read this material. I put it through several checks--and Amazon has an editor who reviewed it then mostly worked to format the document. The homophone (tender vs tinder) was completely missed. I corrected these errors and they are not present in my version. Now I need to write Amazon and see how these issues are resolved in their version.

If I had not read the reviews, these errors would still be present in the version. Instead of copying me or contacting me directly, this former editor chose to write her review on Amazon which is not the best way to reach me. If you find some typo in a book or published document, it is much better (and direct) to contact the author or the publisher and get it resolved--instead of airing it in such a public forum then hoping the author will read it.

This morning I was looking at a bonus offering for a new book which has 101 bonus gifts. One of the gifts from an author named Tim had his name spelled "Time." I pulled up my Snag-It program, copied the screen and sent a little note directly to this author. Then he is informed and can go through whatever steps to fix this matter.

Despite the best efforts and check systems from publishers, mistakes do creep into printed materials. The good news is that they can often be fixed. Last year in my daily Bible reading, I found a small section which made no sense. I pulled up my Bible program and discovered about 50% of a verse was missing in this printed book. I took a few minutes to contact my friend, the editorial director of this publishing house. He wrote back and expressed appreciation. About a week or so later to my complete surprise, the publisher sent a leather-bound version of this Bible with a handwritten note of appreciation. With that type of reaction, if I find something else in this book, I'm inclined to pass the information to them. From my experience, the direct approach to the author or publisher is often the best approach for resolution.

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2 Comment:

At 10:18 AM, Blogger David A. Todd Left a note...

Good advice, Terry. Thanks.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger D. Ann Graham Left a note...

Terry... I think this is a good place to mention that a couple of years ago (when I was still like a kid without manners at the table when it came to blogs)that I made some comment on one of your fiction posts, and referred to a free e-book I had written on the subject (is it too late to say excuse me?). What's more -- oh, horror! -- there was an error in it!

But rather than embarrass me with a slap of the hand for reaching without asking, or correcting in front of the other guests, you very graciously wrote me a private email, instead. If I recall, you even said a kind word about the ebook on your blog.

Since then, I have not only learned a great deal through the resources you share here, but have also been delighted many times over with the occasional personal tidbits you randomly slip in. Like admitting you were spellbound at the sight of Mary Poppins flying right over your head, or that it practically wore you out trying to cart your luggage up five flights of stairs on that last New York trip.

Thank you so much for being who you really are, and for sharing so much of yourself with others!

Many, many respects.



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