Sep 22

Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Twelve



Number Twelve

As Soon As A Book Is Released, You Will Find 100+ Editing Errors


Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.

O’Toole’s Corollary: Murphy was an optimist.


Yes, Murphy is alive and well. He works in the publishing business.

Just a couple of my own experiences in this area…

I once released a (very) hard science fiction novel through one of the major print houses. It had been through not only the normal editing process that all authors are familiar with, but also through extensive editing and peer review by real professional scientists due to the extreme technical content. This included physicists, mathematicians, biologists, chemists, and other more esoteric disciplines of science as well as the peer review team at a well known physics journal. Finally, release day came. That was on Monday. By Wednesday afternoon, I had more than 1,000 emails from readers that one of the planets in the story was turning backwards or that it was in an impossible orbit. Guess what? The readers were right. Me and all of the scientists had simply missed the fact that there was an error in the math, and that let the planet have an impossible orbit. Oops. We fixed that in the second edition.

I wrote a semi-historical novel once that was set in the 1490s, and I used a word that wasn’t in common usage until the late 1880s. Yeah, the editors and I both missed that one, but the readers didn’t. Oh…we never fixed that one, just added a disclaimer to the second edition in the forward that the story was not a historical work.

And this ignores the normal spelling and grammatical errors that have fallen through the cracks. At a guess, I would suspect the number is somewhere in excess of a million over the last 30 years.

This kind of stuff happens. Don’t worry about it. Readers do—by and large—understand that we and the editors are human. They will laugh it up for a while, maybe poke some fun at you, and then finish the book anyway.

There are two genres where you can really piss off the readers when you make mistakes, though…real, serious historical and hard science fiction. The readers in these genres are absolute fanatics about attention to detail. And they will shred you if you mess it up.

For the most part, this is all petty stuff.

And remember, don’t sweat the petty stuff.

Oh, and don’t pet the sweaty stuff.

Keep Loving!



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