When Someone Finds a Typo in Your Book

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I can still remember the first time I found a typo in a book.

It was (is) Mary Higgins Clark’s memoir Kitchen Privileges, I was about thirteen years old, and the typo in question was “nickle.”

Nickle.

Nickle.

Anyway, I would grow up to begin my post-college career as a professional proofreader working for a large health insurance company, and catching all kinds of typos in my day job was immensely satisfying. It was like scratching an itch. Or watching comedone extraction videos. (If you’re a sick weirdo like me, you’re welcome.)

But when someone catches one of my typos, especially if it’s in a professional document out in the world making money, it’s not a good feeling. It’s like I was caught with toilet paper on my shoe, or a booger hanging someplace it shouldn’t. The embarrassment of it makes my teeth hot.

Has it happened to you?

This Happens to Quite Literally Everyone

The good news is there are typos in almost all books, and neither traditional nor self-published books can escape the scourge of fat fingers and screen blindness. If you’ve realized your book that’s out on Amazon has a typo, or worse, received one of those Kindle notifications that someone else has found a typo in your book, consider it a badge of writing experience.

It tends to sting a little bit more, though, when someone else finds your slip-up first.

The Well-Meaning Dunderheads

Pointing out typos requires a little bit of chutzpah. However, I think people who aren’t aware of how that affects you, as an author who wants your book to be as good as it can be, mean well, most of the time.

Maybe they genuinely think you can fix it.

Picture them like your kindly old great-aunt who is always patting your shoulder with her soft, wizened hand and saying, “You should put on a sweater, dear, or you’ll catch a chill.”

The Clearly-Better-Than-Yous

Oh. These people.

Repeat after me: The ones who want to lord their superior linguistic skills over you by pointing out your errors have far too much inadequacy and sadness in their lives for you to waste even a little of yours thinking about them.

Are you going through a typo tragedy right now? Are you still smarting from the last time this happened? How do you deal with the sting of someone else finding your errors? Share in the comments below.

Categories: Writing Tips
  • http://www.tripfiction.com TripFiction

    A really interesting observation. Thank you for the post!
    Of course typos happen, we can’t always be perfect. I think most people skip over them. However, if there are a lot – and there are some books that I have come across where they appear over and over – then it affects the reading experience and so it can be worth a comment : thankfully the latter are few and far between. And as a reviewer it is important to remember that any book has taken a HUGE amount of effort, and that in itself deserves respect, whatever…!

  • Pam Rauber

    It does embarrass me when I boo-boo and someone replies my mistake. I feel ignorant. Everyone does. You don’t want people to think your grammar or spelling is poor. That said, twenty years ago, I was reading a novel written by a lawyer. Like Trip Fiction has pointed out, the typos become an interference. I was appalled that every third or fifth page of four hundred plus pages had typos. I started the book over, and with a red pen, underlined all the typos. I wrote a brief notation to the publisher and mailed the book back to them. Never heard from them. I never thought the lawyer was responsible or for that matter, a proof-reader. I believed it was a program the publishers were using or printed from another country, and was translated improperly and no one checked behind those responsible.

  • 1GreekAmericanWoman1

    Instead of being condescending towards people who find errors, like this defensive article did, perhaps writers should be more careful instead, or find a better spellchecker. Yes, everyone makes mistakes. But blaming others for pointing them out…that is childish and unprofessional. I welcome all comments from my readers. It means they care and are interested in my work being at its best. Isn’t that what we owe our readers? Our best work?

    • Absynthe

      My sentiments exactly. Brava!

    • Jennifer Rupp

      I didn’t think that the writer of this article was defensive, or childish, or blaming anyone. I don’t understand how you got that impression. I thought the writer was very sympathetic.

  • http://www.lisatener.com/ Lisa Tener

    I would want to know. If there’s a second printing, it’s something I can fix. Yes, it’s embarrassing, but I’d rather improve my book. Speaking of fixing typos, I also use a service that is currently free called Editmob (think of it as crowd-sourced proofreading) and it’s great for finding blog typos. I know I spend less time editing my blog posts than my books, so it’s great to know if there’s an error–they’re easy to fix too. You can find it at http://www.editmob.com.

  • Deb Palmer

    This was helpful to me. Thank you. My book will be available in about a week. While selecting excerpts for an upcoming reading, I found a typo. It is too late for changes on this edition. It’s horrifying. Reading this at least makes me feel like I am in good company.

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