Monday, 10 August 2015

Beware the Tipo - Karen Bush

I hate typos.
I really do.
They irritate me beyond belief, distracting me from what I'm reading and making me itch to pick up a red pen or a highlighter. They seem to stand out from the text, thumbing their little fonty noses at me.
Naturally, when I proofread my own stuff I go through it very, very carefully.
It annoyed me no end when one publisher airily told me,
"Don't you worry about correcting typos. We have a very good team who are very good at dealing with that side of things. They are really hot at picking up typos."
Dear Reader, they were not. Despite the fact that I corrected all the typos anyway, they not only ignored them, but just for the hell of it added in some entirely new ones.
The one that especially made me froth (apart from the change of surname of a Famous Person in the index) was the change from 'Excerpt from a Diary' to 'Exert from a Diary'.
Obviously the 'team' the publisher used was a computer spellchecker with a very poor vocabulary.
At least when self-publishing you have control over this sort of thing.
Supposedly.
While all those horrid typos leap out, singing, dancing and generally doing all they can to draw attention to themselves when you are reading somebody else's opus, they are pretty good at adopting protective camouflage when it's your own work. You tend to read what you intended should be there, rather than what actually is there.
Especially when you are known for getting in a stew over typos it is rather embarrassing when they then succeed in getting under your own radar. I'm still smarting with shame and humiliation over "It's not about the Monet" instead of "It's not about the money" pointed out by an amused reader. Drat that auto-correct word processing feature. I don't care how much it knows about Art and Artists, it's pants at helping you to create a book.
The solution?


Before pressing that publish button, get yourself a good proof reader.
Better still, get two.





As any fule kno, Nature abhors a tipo.
This is their ultimate fate when She finally steps in and takes charge:
Tippoo's tiger, as demonstrated by a youthful Peter Purves
in my sooper Blue Peter annual.








20 comments:

Wendy Jones said...

Love it. These tipso's are sneaky little beggars. Please can you send the wipppets up to me in Scotland for a couple of weeks. I've a spot of proofreading for them

Dennis Hamley said...

How I know this to be true. I have a real horror story about copyeditors. I scoured to within an inch of their lives the proofs of Divided Loyalties for Walker Books back in 2008 and was as satisfied as I could be that we had a 100% accurate text. But when the finished copies came I found that an officious and ignorant malign influence had been at work. As any fule know, the Junkers 88 was a front-line plane in the Luftwaffe. That same fule will surely be aware that 's' does not signify a plural in German. The Junkers 88 plays a big part in my description of an actual air raid on RAF Biggin Hill in 1940. I found, changed since I'd parted with the proofs, that while the planes were still called Junkers 88s when they flew in formation, if one peeled off it became a Junker 88. I feel a surge of anger even as I am writing now.

madwippitt said...

Oh Dennis, I feel your pain, I really do. But on the bright side, just think of the fun we can now all have singing "88 plural Junkers hanging on the wall" ...
And Wendy, the wippies are currently chasing squeaky little Tispos ' all round the sitting room floor as I have two books in for proofing - but feel free to drop by with your text if you're passing and we'll let 'em rip at it. (They accept payment in sossidges, roast turkey or gravy bones) :-)

Jan Needle said...

My most costly one (for Andre Deutsch, not me) was when they changed a chapter heading referring to the Mary Celeste to the Marie Celeste. They were most aggrieved when I pointed out that some crummy fiction writer had sexed up the name (it was 'im wot writ Sherlock Holmes I think) in a short story, and even more aggrieved when my agent demanded back the fairly large sum they'd deducted from my account for 'correcting' it. But my favourite, from me dear dead newspaper days, was not exactly a literal (as we call typos) but a copytaker called Jim Kay who corrected a phoned-in reference to the island off the north east coast 'famous for its grey starling.' He was mortified to be told that the reporter meant Grace Darling.

Chris Longmuir said...

Oh, you are so right. My typo spotting eye came from my previous life with a local authority. Part of my remit was writing guidelines, procedures, manuals etc, and our typing pool did not think it was their role to proof read. So I had to do it. The amended copy would be returned to said typists who made the amendments and then returned the copy with new typos - different ones - this went on for a protracted length of time. But it was good training for me in spotting typos, even my own. However, that doesn't prevent some of the pesky beggars getting through.

Dennis Hamley said...

Yes, Madwippit, lets' all sing it together. And record it and send a copy to Walker Books.

Dennis Hamley said...

Sorry, typo alert. 'Let's', not 'lets'.

Bill Kirton said...

This definitely touches several nerves, set sparking by the ones we missed ourselves and those inflicted upon us by others. My own worst one was in Just Write, which I co-wrote with Dr Kathleen McMillan. In it, we frequently refer to the need to check and recheck for Spoty. The proofs were read by Kathleen, myself and at least two copy editors at the publishers but when I sent a copy to my teacher brother he thanked me, said it was good, but felt obliged to point out that omitting (or including, I don't remember the details) the word 'not' from a sentence gave it a meaning opposite to what was intended.

Lydia Bennet said...

yes these things do haunt one. my second full poetry collection Quantum Sheep was sent off and returned, typeset, for checking, with some typos the editor had managed to create. I suspect spellcheck. Anyhoo, I returned them painstakingly corrected using Track Changes. Stupidly, I didn't insist on seeing them again to check, and when the book came out, there they still were, and are, because the lemon didn't 'apply changes'... the daftest I remember was that an olive ended up with a steed inside it rather than a seed.

Nick Green said...

The trouble is, many of the yoof leaving education today with supposedly good degrees can bearly read. That's an exadgeration, but it's's' not far off the mark. And publishers employ these people as copy editors.

Dennis - Junker/Junkers is a classic. (And a good one for grammar Nazis, no?) But a similar one that trips up many more people is biceps/bicep. Many people don't seem aware that biceps is a singular noun, and you have a right biceps and a left biceps. There's no such thing as a bicep.

madwippitt said...

Do I smell a book coming on?
These have so made me laugh - thank you all for cheering up a dank damp day! :-)

Catherine Czerkawska said...

There's definitely a book in this! My own favourite was the spellcheck that changed the name Angus to Anus throughout a whole play. Cast a new light on the character. I have had letters full of typos from the local education department when I was on our school board - and more recently from the company that designed my website but which was 'acquired' by a bigger company. It has not inspired confidence and I'm in the process of terminating the relationship. But I see it all the time in newspapers now - howlers to make your toes curl.

Bill Kirton said...

My best have been produced by the proximity of 'b' and 'n' on the keyboard. Perhaps the bestest best of all was when 'baked beans' became 'naked beans', which generated a whole blog.

Nick Green said...

Embarrassing typos are nothing new. Just ask the Viking scribe who initially covered the story of King Cnut.

Lydia Bennet said...

hahahaha!

JO said...

I so agree - typos are the bane of my reading!!

Reb MacRath said...

Timely post for me. After scanning my old paperback Mastery, my formatter caught, she thought, most of the resulting glitches. I spent four months rewriting and catching little things she missed. She in turn more things we'd both missed. And now, final-proofing, I another list...

Next time, I swear, I will hire a proofer!

Lee said...

Dennis, you are only partly correct about the plural in German. A family name, for example, will form the plural with 's', e.g. 'Die Schmidts sind gekommen.'

Enid Richemont said...

Dennis - Walker Books certainly went downhill. They were meticulous when I was working with them in the 90s (Jeez, are we OLD!)

Typos do produce some interesting new words, and I have long fantasised about collecting them (I may well blog about this). They also raise the uncomfortable question: AM I LOSING IT?

Enid Richemont said...

PS to Dennis. I do wish that you and my irreplaceable David Richemont had got together - feel you would have been kindred spirits.