Oh No! It’s Typo!

by Boyd Morrison

I’m nearing the July 1 release of my new book, THE LOCH NESS LEGACY, and the last step was to share the book with a few select beta readers so they could send me any typos they found. I didn’t think they’d find too many considering the book had already been copyedited and proofed by Little, Brown UK, which is publishing the book in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand (I’m self-publishing it in the US, except for Audible’s audiobook version).

My readers didn’t discover one or two typos as I had expected. They found over three dozen. To be fair, Little, Brown UK had already corrected some of them in their final version (I hadn’t transferred those corrections to my self-pubbed edition) . However, there were still a dozen that had escaped notice.

It’s infuriating, but a great lesson that I need to have others find the typos I’m blind to after reading the book over and over. And this isn’t a new problem for me, unfortunately. Check out the blog I wrote on my website four years ago, and then post a comment about your own exasperating typos.

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I hate typos. Despise them. They are vermin to be wiped from the face of the planet, ranking just below tapeworms and just above spammers trying to sell me herbal V1@gr@.

The irony is that, as I have discovered this past week, typos love me. They can’t get enough of me. Apparently, they get so distraught if they do not appear in my novels that they insert themselves without my knowledge just so they don’t feel left out of the fun.

After I posted my complete, polished novels to my web site and the Kindle, several alert readers notified me that they’d come across a few typos, which I’m grateful to know about so I can go back and fix them. That doesn’t mean I don’t need a moment to gather myself after finding out about them, because my reaction is usually something like this:

ARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!

I add in some very bad words if I want to be even more articulate.

The reason for my frustration is that I proofread my books very carefully to make sure they are as error-free as possible. I spend hours reading and rereading the novels until my eyes glaze over and I can’t see straight.  I don’t see how that method can fail.

And yet, it does. My most frequent typos are of the mixed-up variety. I type “their” instead of “there” or “your” instead of “you’re.” Of course, this kind of error can lead to some amusing outcomes. A few years ago, when some striking union workers felt they were being taken advantage of by management, they didn’t help their cause by carrying placards saying, “The managers think your stupid!”

But I can see how I might miss something like that. What I can’t understand is how I used a word like “valediction” in place of “valedictorian.” I’ve never used “valediction” in a sentence in my life. In fact, I had to look up what it meant (Val*e*dic*tion: a word Boyd never uses).

The worst typo I found, all by myself, was when I used “astronomist” instead of “astronomer.” Now, “astronomist” is not, technically, a word, so how both I and spellchecker missed it is a mystery, although some other people in the same situation might make wild accusations. For example, I would never start the rumor that Microsoft Word randomly inserts nonsense words into a person’s writing just for the enjoyment of programmers who get hilarious emails every time someone sends out a document with the word “squatful” inserted into it. That would be irresponsible.

Besides, I can’t depend on spellchecker because it’s not always reliable. It hasn’t happened lately, but it used to be that when I typed “Boyd Morrison” into Word, it would underline the words in red, diligently alerting me that I had misspelled my own name. When I asked spellchecker for a better suggestion, it came up with what should have been so obvious to me: “Body Moron.” Perhaps it was suggesting a new pen name for me.

I can take comfort in the fact that even NY Times bestselling authors have books with typos. My friend, James Rollins, whose books are epic action-adventure stories that I gobble down in about a day, wrote The Last Oracle, the cautionary tale of what happens if you stand too close to a molten nuclear reactor (hint: it involves the words “brain” and “tapioca”).

Toward the end of The Last Oracle, I found the sentence, “Her entire form shook as teats spilled in shining streaks of joy.” Jim, of course, meant “tears”, but when I tried to imagine the scene as written, I laughed so hard that the person sitting next to me on the airplane thought I had a medical condition.

When I wrote an email to Jim with praise for the book, I also told him of the typo. He emailed back just one sentence: “I read your kind words with teats in my eyes.”

So I suppose, like Jim, I should keep a sense of humor about typos and their affection for me. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like I could get saddled with some kind of ridiculous nickname just because of typos.

Sincerely,
Body Moron

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17 thoughts on “Oh No! It’s Typo!

  1. OMG, I’m still laughing about the shining spill of teats. My eyes are brimming with teats.

    Body Moron sounds like a great title for a book btw.

  2. Boyd, I hate typos as well. I am the world’s worst proof-reader. I don’t feel quite as bad about my past errors after reading your post, particularly your recollection about James Rollins’ problems. Thanks for the mammaries.

  3. Slippery little gremlins, those typos. Particularly irksome when applying for a job and you find one hiding in your cover letter. Always after you’ve hit send. Udderly horrifying.

  4. On my blog, my readers are essentially my editors. One reader emailed me to point out I’d used the word “decedents” and she thought I meant to use “descendants”. She even looked them up on dictionary.com to make sure, and she told me she’d hoped she wasn’t stepping on my toes or anything.

    Of course not! And I wrote her back and told her she was exactly right! “Thanks, girl!” is my response, because now I know, my readers got my back. 😀

  5. I’ve been a newspaper copy editor on and off for 40 years, and typos still get by me from time to time. Sometimes your eyes just see what they expect to see, not what’s on the page. Multiple readers are ALWAYS better. But it’s not a fun job. When reporters read the paper, they’re always excited to see their work in print. When editors hear the press rumble to life, they always rush with a sense of dread to see what mistake they let slip into print.

  6. I once described my job as a copy editor thus: “I’m the guy who puts the mistakes in the paper.” Not because that’s what I’m supposed to do, but because it’s my job to catch them, and if one gets in print it’s because I didn’t stop it. So I’m the guy who put it there.

  7. Hilarious! I, also, could write a blog post about the funny typos I see in books I edit, the best one being “pubic” instead of “public”. I really don’t think we can see our own typos, as we’re reading what we think is on the page, not what is actually there. That’s where that second set of eyes, of a detail-oriented person, is invaluable.

    Thanks for a good laugh, Boyd!

  8. It’s not only typos that show up later but other mistakes too. Regardless of how many read-throughs we do or how many editors scour our work, bloopers still occur. We can only hope to correct them in another edition. It’s usually sharp readers who point them out to us.

  9. Excellent post. Typoos are our pesky curse. And yes, spellchecker corrections can be hilarious. I tried a “voice-into-type” program one time. I nearly died laughing. That thing was pumping in words when I wasn’t even speaking. Totally weird.

    This post comes to you from the wilds of Jackson Hole Wyoming, where, oddly enough, we have wifi. How fortunate, eh? (That’s a joke. There’s no escape.)

  10. I found that reading a sentence (or book) backward one word at a time is an effective method of proofing. Reading forward we “see” what should be ther and not what is there.

    For example take this sentence:
    “Her entire form shook as teats spilled in shining streaks of joy.”

    Proof it backward:
    “joy streaks shining in spilled teats as shook form entire Her”

    Did the word stand out the second time?

  11. Oh, the teats in my eyes, their streaming 😉
    I just tell people my fingers are ignorant & don’t know how to spell (unless I’m using my smart phone-then it’s all the autospells fault).

  12. Great blog Boyd!

    I hate typos as much as you. Thank God for all the wonderful beta readers out there who scour our work and help clean it up even after our editors are done with it!

    CJ

    PS After trying to post a comment here, I’m discovering I hate captcha just as much!

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