Typos and Errors in Indie-Published Manuscripts

I originally published this article as a guest author at http://timothy-oullette.blogspot.com/ and http://www.timouellette.com on August 8, 2014, but I felt that the information was important enough that I wanted it in my blog feed as well. I hope you enjoy my take on Typos and Errors in Indie-Published Manuscripts. You can let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

 

TBS_typosgraphic1

 

Are typos in a book a big deal?

Of course they are – to some extent! Typos happen. Typos happen in books that are self-published and traditionally published. Typos happen to new authors and seasoned authors. Typos happen in eBooks and print books. It doesn’t matter how many people you have edit, proof read, re-read, etc. there is always a chance a typo (or two – or three – or four) is going to slip through. Does that mean the world is over, the author should never write again, or that the author should lose all credibility? NO!

Let me say that again – NO!

It goes without saying, although I will say it, that every author should take the time and effort to make their manuscript the best that it can be. Not only do readers deserve the best product an author can provide, authors deserve to produce their best work – manuscripts they can be proud of for years to come!

You might be asking yourself, ‘how do I, as a self-published author without the backing of a traditional publishing house, afford to make sure that my manuscript is ready for publication?’

Good Question! Editors, proof-readers, and copy-writing services all cost money! Plus, and here is the catcher, even professional editors, proof-readers, and copy-writing service professional make mistakes! Even when you pay good money for these services you can’t be 100% sure your manuscript is flawless. That doesn’t mean you should just accept the fact that typos happen and therefore you don’t need to worry about them. There are a lot of things you can do to ensure that you publish your best work, and I will give you some examples, but you have to remember that you are never going to please everyone. There will always be someone that finds something wrong with your book.

What can you do to ensure minimal typos and errors in your final manuscript?

Below is a list of tools (free and/or low cost) that all self-published authors should be using:

 

  • SPELLCHECK I LOVE spellcheck. No matter what I am working on I have spellcheck set to mark spelling and grammatical errors while I am typing. No, it doesn’t always catch misused words – but it is a great start to catching those words frequently misspelled. You can also add words to your computers dictionary. This is a great way to allow your computer to know that names (or other words) you use frequently are not incorrectly typed.

  • READING ALOUD – Yes, just like you did when you were a kid. One of the reasons teachers have their students read out loud is because we often retain more information when we hear text read out loud. For me, as an author, I like to either read my books aloud to myself or have someone else read them to me as I follow along. The down side to this is that it can be a rather lengthy process, but the upside is that it allows me to catch words that have been misused and dialog that doesn’t sound natural.

  • FIND / REPLACE If you don’t use this Microsoft Word tool yet – you need to! Microsoft can find just about anything from double commas or periods, extra spaces, repeat words, etc. Once you find them you can fix them. Although, what I really like about this feature is that you can easily replace mistakes with corrections. (Example: FIND: .. REPLACE WITH: .) Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to just trust your computer to make all of your corrections for you. When I do a search for an error I look at each of the results and decide if I want the correction to be made.

  • TEST READERS Or as I like to call them guinea pigs!  My mom, my sister, and a number of my friends have all been my willing and loyal test subjects in this area. They have read, edited, and re-read all of my books throughout the writing process looking for errors that I might have missed. It isn’t easy seeing your manuscript covered in red edits, but trust me this process makes your final manuscript much better than it would be with only you reading and reviewing it.

  • PRO WRITING AID This is an online writing editor and personal writing coach. It checks grammar and spelling; helps to improve overall readability; finds overused words; improves dull paragraph structure; locates repeat words and phrases; checks for consistency of spelling; hyphenation and capitalization; warns you about clichés and redundancies; and so much more. I learned about this tool through a friend that does line editing as a freelancer. She told me that it was an inexpensive way to help improve writing as you go and that it was extremely user friendly – SHE WAS RIGHT! I highly suggest trying it out. What is the worst that could happen?

  • ARC Advance Reader Copies! Okay, once your manuscript is complete, as complete as you feel you can make it, you need to offer advance reader copies. This is a great way to get feedback. You can request feedback in the form of reader notes and/or book reviews. I have even gone so far as providing a list of questions at the end of the advance reader copies I have sent out, this helped me to target key areas of my story and/or editing that needed to be fixed.

  • EDITOR OK, this one costs money. All of the tools above are free or can be done at a very low cost, however hiring an editor is not cheap. If you decide to go this route – which I did – you don’t want to skimp! You get what you pay for!!! But, you still have to remember – Editors are only HUMAN, they make mistakes too! Again, there is no way to guarantee – 100% – that your manuscript isn’t going to have typos or errors.

My novels may still have errors – heck, even award winning authors sometimes have errors in their novels – but I can honestly say that I have taken all possible steps to ensure that the books I publish are the best they can possibly be. So, if there are still a few errors, as I am sure there are, then I’m OK with that. I’m happy with my finished products and that truly is all an author can ask for.

 

 

Written by: Nina Soden
Author, the Blood Angel Series
Revenge (book 3): http://wp.me/P1Ft9W-bR

 

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About Nina Soden

Wife, Mommy, Young-Adult Fantasy Author, Artist, Actress, Director... I'm only as old as I feel and I try to see the good in everyone, but some days that's a struggle.
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68 Responses to Typos and Errors in Indie-Published Manuscripts

  1. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog….. An Author Promotions Enterprise! and commented:
    AUTHORS – Nina has listed some great free/low cost tools to help you minimise Typos and Errors in your Final Manuscript 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jonas Lee says:

    Great advice!

    Did you mean to use willing instead of winning…? Hmm, how far does your genius go?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Amazing advice! I will most definitely be coming back to this post when the need arises! Thank you for your help.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jack Eason says:

    Good post Nina. Even using all of the tools you mention, with the best will in the world, errors will always creep in unseen. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nina Soden says:

      So true! I think I’ve maybe read a handful of books that were error free. Most books have at least one typo, no matter how small. As a reader typos don’t really bother me. I can recognize that writers are human too, and yes errors happen. As a writer, I am my worst critic and I hate to see errors in my books. However, they do happen and I have to remind myself that even the best writers out there have errors.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jack Eason says:

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    Good advice for all writers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have always been published, to date, via the traditional publishing houses, and the fact is that despite every effort (and cost), typos still occasionally slip through their systems. One of the keys to minimising the error rate is structuring the editorial process – ‘change management’ to ensure the editorial pass-throughs – the proof-editing, line-editing, structural checking of the typeset version and so forth – are in the correct order to capture everything at the appropriate times. Getting double-reads (two line-edit passes, for instance, by different editors) is important but the costs, even for the professional publishing houses, are usually prohibitive these days. The issue for self-publishing is always going to be the cost because third-party editorial oversight is an essential part of minimising the error rate. Kind of a Catch-22 situation unfortunately.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Nina Soden says:

      Matthew – I couldn’t agree with you more. I had no idea it was also hard for traditionally published authors to go through that process, but as an indie-author believe me I understand. I use beta readers (minimum of 4) that review my books multiple times before it goes through line-editing, proof-editing, and a final (2-3) complete edits. It isn’t a pretty process, nor is it inexpensive.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I can handle a couple of typos but a lot of them? Uh, no.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Beth Caplin says:

    I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to not only have an editor, but a team of beta readers. And make sure you choose an editor with reliable references (I found mine from another author friend whose latest release was a bestseller on Amazon in satire, so readers must not have found much fault with her edit job!). There are a lot of scammers out there taking crap-tons of money from naive authors and doing a horrible job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nina Soden says:

      Absolutely! I use multiple beta readers and they don’t just read my manuscripts once, they read multiple times as I do rewrites. They provide edits, questions, and suggestions as they read. My team is amazing and they actually take care of a lot of edits before the manuscripts even get to the real line/proof editing. As far as finding a good editor, be careful! There are a lot of them out there, and they are not all good.

      Like

    • Nina Soden says:

      I agree about beta readers. I have a team of beta readers that read/re-read multiple times giving me edits/suggestions/questions/etc. I think that the beta readers are essential to both the writing and the editing process. You are also very correct about editors. There are a lot of bad editors out there. I used three different editors before finding the one I love to work with. When you find a good one – stick with them!

      Like

  9. danniehill says:

    These are all very good ideas and should be used by all authors, but in the end the use of a editor– and they don’t always cost a fortune– should be considered a must for most writers wanting to put out a quality product to the readers that are most important. Thank you for a great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nina Soden says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I agree 100% with you about using an editor. I don’t publish anything without having it professionally edited. I actually use multiple beta readers who provide edits, suggestions, questions, etc. prior to going to line/proof editing, but I always use a professional editor. I do want to point out though, that I never meant to suggest that the list in post is a substitute for an editor. If an author uses all of these things, yes their manuscript will be much improved, but an editor should still be utilized. Using these tools and improving your manuscript should, if you have a good editor, lower the costs associated with an editor. Well, those are my experiences anyway. Again, thank you for reading.

      Liked by 2 people

      • danniehill says:

        And I agree with you, Nina. One of the most difficult things an author can do is edit their own work, but making the manuscript as good as you can get it before the editor makes their job easier and often less expensive. I did enjoy your post and gathered several things that will help me in the future.

        Liked by 3 people

    • Nina Soden says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for your comments. I completely agree with you about using an editor. I do feel that the tools I provide in my post are not substitutes for an editor, but if used right they can help to improve your manuscript and decrease the cost of the editing process.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Good Morning Nina, This was so informative that I re posted to my f/b and reblogged on the Blackheath Dawn Writers website

    Liked by 1 person

  11. atothewr says:

    Great post. Another thing I do is read a print copy of my work. That really helps to show any errors I have. My mother in law is my editor so when she goes over my work (checking spelling and grammar) I review her print copy instead of hoping onto the computer to make changes. It really helps.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nina Soden says:

      Agreed! I have a few beta readers that do their edits/suggestions/etc. on the computer but one only uses print copies. I do find it very helpful to review her edits on the printed copy, and actually tend to find more myself that way. Thank you for the suggestion, I think my blog readers can definitely benefit from that.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. One great idea that I’d recommend; as both an author and a narrator, is to consider getting your book recorded for audio books. I pick up a tremendous amount of typos by reading aloud and recording other people’s books and I know I would be happy to earn some extra cash by sending the authors a revised copy of their manuscript and am sure most other narrators would share this view.

    For those authors who have not really considered getting their books narrated I will tell you that, at least on Amazon Audible, you can request auditions, choose your narrator, and have them do all the recording, editing and mastering either for an agreed upon ‘per finished hour’ rate OR 50% royalties. For authors, the 50% royalty option means that no money is paid to the narrator up front and Amazon takes care of paying them when the audio book sells. Yes… this is tough on the narrator, as they put in a ton of work (I spend between 7 and 8 hours per finished hour) but we often accept this as part of getting our names known before we can command a decent ‘per finished hour’ rate. With very little cash coming to us from all of this work, additional money from editing (which we are mentally doing anyway as we read and record) is always welcome.

    In addition, I have learned; in the short time that I have been actually writing and publishing myself, not to publish a physical book and until after I have first published an eBook. I spent a considerable sum of money getting physical copies of my debut book printed and sent to me only to then discover a bunch of silly typos that spell check and my beta readers didn’t catch. My next book will be recorded ahead of time to make sure that I’ve caught at least the majority of the typos before publishing and also that the book ‘scans’ well.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Nina Soden says:

      Great advice, thank you. I do a reading of my book prior to sending it off to an editor, but I had never thought about using the audio book recording as an additional edit. Thank you for sharing this idea with me and my readers.

      Liked by 4 people

      • You’re welcome, Nina! I think it’s probably true that you’ll rarely find a reader who is as totally immersed in your writing as a narrator is! Even if you’ve already published as an eBook, it is a relatively simple task to submit an edited version to iron out the ‘kinks.’ 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Good thinking – thank you and a Happy New Year to each of you

        Like

      • You can check out an audio sample from the first book I did here: amzn.to/1xQ1vjP Terry. It seems to have been tweaked a bit by Amazon to make it run faster, making it sound a bit breathless, but it will give you an idea. I also have a few free codes from Amazon for a free download of audio book 2 High Stakes, if you are interested. My favorite genre is definitely sci-fi/fantasy but I’m doing whatever comes along right now. I think anything like additional payment for editing would have to be agreed between the author and narrator. Maybe payment through Paypal, or something along those lines? I’d be taking notes on edits as I narrate because it’s while I read aloud that I really pick up on things that need editing.

        Just noticed you’re in the UK, so here’s the link for them: http://amzn.to/1EVbpbq

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nina Soden says:

        Wendy – Do you read the book once first so that you understand the story and the characters and then do the recorded reading? How does that process work?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Nina. I read the whole thing through first. I always request a Word doc if possible from the author so that I can increase font size and mark sections that may cause challenges when I record, such as multi-character dialog. The whole MS becomes more like a script with me playing all the roles. LOL!

        Reading the entire thing first allows me to ask questions to the author on pronunciation of words and names they may have invented, Google pronunciation of real place names, and also gives me a heads up on whether there are accents that I may need time to brush up on, like the French guy in High Stakes. Reading through first also gives me a better feel for the characters which has an effect on how I vocally portray them.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Nina Soden says:

        That is wonderful Wendy Anne… giving me something to think about with my next book. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting thoughts here WendyAnne. Would you like to explain how your ‘extra cash’ system might be applied? Why not let us have an example of your narrating voice – what genres do you particularly concentrate upon?Terry@blackheathdawn.co.uk

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Reblogged this on Musings by Melanie V. Logan and commented:
    Typos and errors can happen to the best of us. It’s understandable. The problem I have is when there are so many errors and typos that it’s hard to read. I’ve put down a couple of books for this very reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m with you, Melanie. It’s extremely distracting to me. Some authors don’t want to spend any money on their book on things like editing–they just want to rake in the money. But you have to invest in yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Cate Russell-Cole says:

    Reblogged this on Cate Russell-Cole: CommuniCATE and commented:
    Ahhh… the voice of reason and a whole heap of practical common sense tips to boot! Thanks to Nina Soden for an excellent post.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. mgill0627 says:

    It’s not typos that frustrate me with self-published authors, it’s the complete lack of revision. The lack of tension, or the head-hopping POV. The extensive exposition, and the shallow characters. The lack of structure and the dues ex machina. All these things ruin a story for me, more even than the typos. I wish self-published authors would at least find experienced people to help them with these areas.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nina Soden says:

      I agree that those things would bother me too. However, I don’t believe that is the case with all self-published authors. I love finding new authors and often read self-published authors without any of those issues. I think that the bad ones are few and far between, or at least that has been my experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. This is very helpful informaiton. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Blackheath Dawn Writers says:

    Thank you Wendy Anne. Heard your dulcets – congratulations hope it goes well. Have what I hope will prove to be an important new author with a fantasy taster/trailer book coming up soon followed by three volumes of the main event. Do you fancy checking out a couple of pages and quoting for the job?
    As a voice it may need a load of expression, interested to hear how you would play it.Terry@blackheathdawn.co.uk

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Reblogged this on Silver Threading and commented:
    Great services for Indie authors! I will be using these myself!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This article is full of invaluable ideas and information! Thank you so very much!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. erikakind says:

    That’s all very good advices. Very good idea with reading aloud. I am sure that I notice a lot more typos when reading aloud!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. dorne whale says:

    Lots of brilliant information in this post. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Bowrag says:

    Frustrating as heck when you pay to have writing published and you find typos!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nina Soden says:

      Like I’ve always said… there are very few published authors that have zero errors, but you are right typos can be frustrating. I find it much more frustrating when I am reading my own manuscript (after it has been through 10 rounds of edits) and I still find errors. That is the main reason I use a professional editor. The tools in this post should not be taken as substitutes for a professional editor, but they can be used to make your manuscript as good as possible before sending it to an editor and therefore reducing the cost of editing.

      Liked by 2 people

  24. Nina Soden says:

    So, I am currently reading Redeemed the final book in the House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast. This is a series that I LOVE! I have enjoyed every book. They are #1 New York Times bestselling authors and have a huge fan base. This book was published by St. Martin’s Griffin books. You would think that with such well known authors and a great publisher not a single typo/error would get through, right? Wrong! I am on page 24 and I have already spotted two misspellings and one misused word. My point being that it isn’t going to make me enjoy the book any less or cause me not to read their books in the future – of course I will buy their next book, I love reading their books.

    OK, that is all I wanted to say. Have a wonderful day and happy reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Reading backwards sentence by sentence is also a trick that can be used to catch mistakes since it breaks the writers from the flow of their text. In any case, every extra set of eyes that a writer can get for their manuscript is worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. jjspina says:

    Thank you for this great post, Nina. I do all that you mentioned and am a copy editor. I don’t like to leave anything to chance. I find errors in a lot of the famous authors too. There is always at least one thing I find when I read a book. With my own books I find it helpful to read aloud as long as I am alone. It can be annoying to my husband when he is watching TV! Chuckle!

    Beta readers are helpful too. They ask different questions especially about content and if things connect and make sense.

    If anyone needs my help, here is my website for info on copy editig. http://jemsbooks.com

    Indie authors have to work harder to get to the top but it makes the climb easier when we can help each other. I support other authors on my blog too. If you need some promoting go to http://jemsbooks.wordpress.com.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Pingback: Free Editing | Carol Balawyder

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