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Thread: Grammatical errors in published works

  1. #1
    Questioning Everything
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    Grammatical errors in published works

    I am reading books downloaded on my kindle and I am continually surprised at the amount of grammatical errors and misspellings. Does anybody else notice this and are you surprised at how many you see?

    I see things like the word "on" where it should obviously read "of," the words "a while" put into one word (awhile), and periods missing at the end of sentences. Is this just how they are sometimes in Kindle format?

  2. #2
    Derailed WriteMinded's Avatar
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    Free books?

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    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    Writerminded, I don' think it's (just) free, self-published or independently published ebooks that the OP is talking about.

    Medievalist has said several times that major publishers used broken processes to convert their books to ebook formats, such as using scanning/OCR (yes, you read that correctly - they do that even though they own the original electronic copy), and such errors creep in.

    On the other hand, I've just read a hardback copy of a currently popular book by an imprint of a major publisher on the future of the world and how wonderful it's going to be. I enjoyed it well enough, except that it has an "abundance" of typos and other errors. And sentence fragments (irony intentional).

    This book isn't as bad as the OP describes ebooks, but this is a person with money and influence, and I would have thought the editing at the major publishing house would be better. If I had received the "final copy" of this book before printing I think I would have paid a professional editor or two out of my pocket to go over it, and gone over it again myself.

    Printed books as a popular item are on the verge of going the way of LPs (which are still made, but sell in the millions instead of hundreds of millions). There's a small "resurgence" in LPs as people claim they "sound better." What they actually hear on old LPs is a greater dynamic range, an actual variation in volume between loud and soft parts, whereas modern pop recordings are "hypercompressed" and have the same "loud" volume all the way through. It's not the format so much as it is the processing.

    I wonder that someday people will "rediscover" old books, that they have far fewer typographical mistakes than the commercially produced ebooks from the major publishers, and there will be a small resurgence in printed book sales (as if future-printed books would be more carefully edited).
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  4. #4
    Apprentice Wordslinger Detri Redmond's Avatar
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    I've actually seen typos in regular books I've read all by big name authors...
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    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    I also question whether the books are self-pubbed or free, because they usually don't have as much editing as traditionally published books. However, I have seen occasional errors in traditionally published works.
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  6. #6
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    Ben, you bring up some excellent points too.
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    Last night, I started reading Wendy Corsi Staub's "Scared To Death" and I noticed that "had" was repeated 3 times successively...And this is a printed book I purchased in National Bookstore here in Manila...

  8. #8
    Which of them was the machine? Hiroko's Avatar
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    "Self-published" and "traditional" books, electronic or print, all have mistakes pass on through the publishing gate at times. Professional or not, people can and do miss errors at some point or another.

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    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiroko View Post
    "Self-published" and "traditional" books, electronic or print, all have mistakes pass on through the publishing gate at times. Professional or not, people can and do miss errors at some point or another.
    Yes, but current (commercial) books have many more errors than books published years ago, apparently as a result of a lot less editing, copyediting, and other goings over than used to be done.
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  10. #10
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbradley View Post
    Medievalist has said several times that major publishers used broken processes to convert their books to ebook formats, such as using scanning/OCR (yes, you read that correctly - they do that even though they own the original electronic copy), and such errors creep in.
    I'm sure that some of the OCR scans are of books where there are electronic files, but that's far less common than cases where there aren't any electronic files at all. Those books have to be OCR-scanned. QA processes are improving, but they aren't all the way there yet.
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  11. #11
    Derailed WriteMinded's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbradley View Post
    Writerminded, I don' think it's (just) free, self-published or independently published ebooks that the OP is talking about.
    I wondered if there was a difference between the quality of freebies and the quality of payfors. I'm still wondering. Typos and misspellings are on a different level than grammatical errors.

    Certainly there are errors in every book I read these days.

    Quote Originally Posted by benbradley View Post
    I wonder that someday people will "rediscover" old books, that they have far fewer typographical mistakes than the commercially produced ebooks from the major publishers, and there will be a small resurgence in printed book sales (as if future-printed books would be more carefully edited).
    I don't own a Kindle or any of those hard, little gadget readers. I love books. I can thumb through them, mark them, write in them, stick a thousand bookmarks between their pages, admire their covers, and store them on my shelf. I need more intimate contact than a cold, little gizmo can provide.
    Last edited by WriteMinded; 07-14-2012 at 06:00 PM. Reason: comma

  12. #12
    New kid, be gentle! Carlene's Avatar
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    It's my understanding that publishers used to have line editors that would edit books. No more - too expensive.

    I, too, read a fair amount of FREE books on my Kindle Fire and most are god-awful. I think too many writers are in a hurry to publish and they don't want to take the time to learn their craft and do a good job. I teach beginning writing classes to adults at a local college and find most of my students don't even know how to set up a manuscript properly - but think they have a novel ready to publish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlene View Post
    It's my understanding that publishers used to have line editors that would edit books. No more - too expensive.
    Er, no.

    I can only speak for Random House and Simon & Schuster, but my books go through multiple edits, including copy edits and proofing. Always. There are hundreds of publishers out there with their own processes, so it's dangerous to make incorrect blanket statements like this.

    Human beings are imperfect. Errors always have, and always will continue to slip through into final books. It's a fact of life and a byproduct of books being manufactured by imperfect beings.
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  14. #14
    empty-nester! shadowwalker's Avatar
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    I know that many of my old books (from falling apart old to 10-15 years old) have occasional errors in them. I don't remember catching a lot of them when I was 'just' a reader - but they glare at me now! As long as I'm not continually stubbing my toe over them - as they say, to err is human...
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  15. #15
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    I occasionally find typos in the books I have on my shelf. Just the other day I found a simple extra word in The Amulet of Samarkand. One or two typos or other mistakes in a book doesn't bother me. If we're talking even one every few pages, though, I'd be very concerned that either the wrong copy of proofs went to printing somehow, or (if it's on my Kindle), I'm looking at a crappy self-published book.

    Even the ARCs I've had the privilege of reading didn't have that many errors in them. An abundance of errors is, for me, inexcusable. I understand the occasional typo, but bad spelling and grammar will make me put down a book/delete a Kindle file faster than you can say "boo."

    If people insist on self-publishing, I think they should hire a freelance copyeditor/proofreader to at least catch their glaring grammar and spelling mistakes.

  16. #16
    I know what happened to Baby Jane. warofthesparks's Avatar
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    In my experience, the "free" ones (*cough* pirated *cough*) tend to have more errors than the ones purchased. I usually get retail from B&N and the epubs are relatively free of errors and exactly like the print editions. Like someone said, if the book doesn't have an electronic edition, like Agatha Christies and such, then they must be scanned in, introducing countless errors and weird formatting.

  17. #17
    phoenix blazing Parametric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlene View Post
    It's my understanding that publishers used to have line editors that would edit books. No more - too expensive.
    I thought I was a line editor for a small publisher. Clearly I don't exist.


  18. #18
    New kid, be gentle! Carlene's Avatar
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    Sorry, my bad info! I was not talking about self-published authors who have misplaced commas. I've read numerous books where the author switches from past to present tense, changes character names...things like that. Also the free books I get are on Amazon for Kindle. I don't go to pirated sites. If you check with www.worldlibrary.com - they have free downloads every day - through Amazon.

    Carlene
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  19. #19
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlene View Post
    It's my understanding that publishers used to have line editors that would edit books. No more - too expensive.
    I wish people would stop saying this because it isn't true.

    No they haven't stopped using line editors. Or copyeditors (line editor is not a professional title). Or Editors. Or proofers.

    Most books from commercial publishers are edited, copy edited, and proofed. In the case of a non-fiction book, the book will possibly also have an indexer, and a tech editor.

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  20. #20
    fluently sarcastic grandma offender ladyleeona's Avatar
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    Occasional typos don't really bother me, even in Big 6 published books, even though I know they do extensive editing at several levels. I do notice them, but whatever.

    Crap happens. Two typos in 80-100,000 words? Please. If I could get my WIPs that clean, I'd die happy.
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  21. #21
    Do Not Walk on the Grass Emily Winslow's Avatar
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    In my experience, sometimes a correction at the copyedit stage can break a word elsewhere. For example, a change in a noun can require a change to a verb later in the sentence. If it's a long, complex sentence, it can be missed.

    So, it's not that the writer wrote it wrong. One piece of the sentence was upgraded, and the other half not upgraded to match.

    Better to get it all right, of course, but at the micro-stage of sweating over teeny-tiny things, this can happen. And then, there is just the last pass of the proofreader.

    I suspect that obvious errors in well-edited books happen that way more often than that they were written wrong originally and nobody in the chain ever noticed.


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  22. #22
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    I've winced more than once at an error in a book I worked on in production that made it to publication.

    It's not that big a deal for a couple of tiny errors, though it's always upsetting to me when I'm responsible.

    Now, if we're talking Laurell K. Hamilton levels of error, that's a big deal.
    Last edited by Medievalist; 07-14-2012 at 11:00 PM.

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  23. #23
    It's too hot Mclesh's Avatar
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    I've caught occasional errors in books going back years now. Usually the errors are small like an omitted preposition or repeated word. My kind of rule of thumb is two or three don't bother me, but more than that and I'd be ticked off and feel like someone's been sloppy. I don't recall that happening, though, in any purchased books.

    Free books, on the other hand...

  24. #24
    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    There's some vague "number of errors" that when exceeded in any one book it becomes a big deal.

    For the example I'm talking about, you can download the first chapter here (must cough up email address to get it):
    http://www.abundancethebook.com/

    It's by Free Press, an imprint of Simon and Schuster:
    http://www.amazon.com/Abundance-Futu.../dp/1451614217

    Maybe they were in a hurry to get it to press, I don't know.

    Also, it has innumerable sentence fragments, and from how many such fragments I've seen elsewhere, they're apparently becoming acceptable by the reading public.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlene View Post
    It's my understanding that publishers used to have line editors that would edit books. No more - too expensive.



    Carlene
    I don't think you have the right idea about what "line editing" is. Editors still read every line, and still fix every error they find. They also still line edit, when needed, but line editing isn't about fixing mistakes in grammar and punctuation.

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