A couple of years ago, I wrote a post titled “I am not silently correcting your grammar.” You can find it HERE. In the post, I talk about how I am not constantly on the lookout for typos and errors in emails, spoken conversation, facebook posts, or comments. Everything I wrote in that post is still true. I truly do not sit at my computer searching for typos and gloating about them when I do find them.
I do notice them, however.
Sometimes these typos simply amuse me, because they vastly alter the intended meaning of a sentence. Most of the time, however, I just skim on over them, because I know how easy it is to mis-type something on my phone or for my voice-to-text to mis-under-hear what I said and not notice that it has written out something rather different than what I meant.
But then there are the ones I come across in (cue somber music) published BOOKS. And here, dear Writer, is where I must admit… that I am silently correcting your grammar!
I am not looking for them! I do not sit down to read any book intent on searching for typos or missing punctuation. When I sit down to read a book, it is generally (and by that I mean ALMOST ALWAYS, unless I am being specifically asked to search for typos) because I just want to READ a BOOK! I never curl up with a good book, a red pen, and a pile of sticky notes. I don’t want to be an editor. I prefer to read books for fun.
But I cannot NOT notice them. They pop out at me. And then I get to the point where I realize that I’ve seen a handful of errors and that if I could pinpoint where they are, maybe the author would like to know so that they could be fixed. But at this point, I’m halfway through the book, having inwardly catalogued a dozen typos or various mechanical errors (missing words, punctuation issues, etc)… but by this time I’m also invested in the story and have no interest in going back and re-reading the book up to this point to take note of specific errors. A dozen typos is not a big deal in the grand scheme of fifty-to-sixty-thousand words… but it is more than most authors would like to have in their books (for comparison, the BIG publishers generally still have 1-5 mechanical errors per 100,000 word book). If I find these errors in a traditionally published book, I take gleeful note and move on. For example: Brandon Sanderson has no need for me to tell him that I found at least TWELVE typos in Mistborn… he has an enormous publishing house and team of editors behind his name and if they are cool with twelve typos in their product, then everyone else will be, as well. Nobody is going to stop reading Sanderson because there are 12 typos in his book (despite the fact that an indie author can only get away with 2-3 before the multitudes start screaming). It’s not fair, but that’s how it is.
However, if the book in question is one written by a fellow indie publisher, then things get a bit more difficult. Remember, I’m halfway through the book by now… so at this point, I might have an inner struggle about whether or not I should do anything to take note of any further typos I find. (The answer is always “no.”) Ultimately, I finish the book, while finding another handful or two of typos in the process, and then the conundrum presents itself:
What on earth am I supposed to do with these handfuls of typos I’ve acquired? I have no place to PUT them!
I usually start by having an argument with myself. It goes something like this:
“I can’t just ignore them. A dozen or more typos are too many to ignore in a review. If I don’t mention them, I feel like it detracts from my credibility as a reliable book reviewer.”
“But if I do mention them, it might hurt an author whose story I just highly enjoyed. I don’t want that to happen! I want to recommend this book, but the typos… what do I do with them?”
“Do I really want to say anything in a review anyway, I’m an author, and I know I don’t want to find out about typos in a review… I’d rather someone privately email or message me to let me know they are there. Maybe give me a couple of examples, and I’ll go find them and fix them. I know how easy it is to miss a typo, I’ve done it myself thousands of times… possibly millions of times! Writing is hard! I don’t want to depress anyone!”
“But not everyone is me, or thinks like me… what if the author gets mad at me for trying to be helpful? I don’t want that to happen. Besides, it’s not like I have a friendship with every author whose book I read… so contacting them privately isn’t always an option.”
“And what if they want to know where all the typos are? I can’t tell them that! I didn’t make notes of them or anything, I just saw them. I don’t have time to be an editor for every book I read.”
Do you see the difficulty? What am I supposed to do? It’s a curse, I tell you!
(I wish that meme said “All the thyme” – it would be funnier, and more believable… because it’s a word spell-check wouldn’t flag. (See? I can’t help it…)
Ultimately, I almost always decide to forego doing anything at all. No review, no conundrum.
But it’s really hard when there’s a book I REALLY liked and want to recommend, but it had a few more than the standard acceptable amount of typos.
What would you do, dear Reader? Do you notice or care about typos? How many errors are you willing to overlook in a book you are reading for fun?