E-Books

When Editorial Errors Matter

by Steve Laube

Broken Pencil

Writers make mistakes. It happens. Often an editor’s job is to be the safety net and catch those tidbits that find their way into an early draft of a manuscript for any number of reasons.

  • The simplicity of “cut & paste” has created more opportunity for error than ever before. I’ve seen half sentences left in their original place because the writer failed to cut and paste accurately.
  • Many books evolve over time with additional research or new thoughts. Errors can creep in this way. I’ve seen an author actually contradict himself between chapters.
  • There are too many details to keep straight so the writer overlooks the inconsequential trusting the editor to fix things. I remember talking to a Bethany House editor who revealed that an author accidently brought a character back to life, forgetting that the character had died earlier in the story.

None of the above examples ever found their way into the final edition of the book and the public never knew the error was made. An editor caught it and fixed it. That is why errors found in a finished and published book are so jarring.

There is much talk about the ease of self-publishing and that traditional publishing is going to die the slow death of the dinosaur. But at the same time we read of complaints about poor editing in the plethora of self-published books.

This past weekend someone showed me a minor mistake in a recently self-published book by a well-known author who is diving into the “indie” world of publishing in addition to their traditional publishing efforts.

It is a simple error, not an egregious one. Early in the book a character has possession of a piece of jewelry that was apparently purchased at Target. Less than fifty pages later the same piece of jewelry is described as being purchased from Wal-Mart.

“Who cares? Really Steve, you shouldn’t be ranting about something so trivial.” That was the conversation in my head. But I bring it up anyway as a reminder to all writers and editors. We make mistakes. (And I would not like it if all my editorial and writing errors were exposed. It hurts enough to have my grammar corrected in the comment section below!) But when we do make mistakes the reader is pulled out of the story and the nature of the reading experience has been changed. The reader who found the above inconsistency did not come to me extolling the virtues of the story or its fine packaging or its literary style. Instead the conversation was about editorial errors and author errors.

The author missed it. The substantive editor missed it. I hope there was a copy editor who missed it. And I hope there was at least one, if not more, proofreaders who missed it. If so? Okay. It happens and we fix the file so that future editions will be corrected and we move on. At Bethany House Publishers we had a file on every book that when it came up for reprint we would fix the errors. In today’s digital world the e-book file can be corrected tomorrow and uploaded with relative ease. (It is not “easy” due to all the various outlets and file formats, but it is relatively easy.)

But if this Indie author did not run it past multiple editors with a variety of skill sets (substantive, copy-edit, and proofreading), then we may have a problem. And one that is showing up with more frequency as we cut editorial corners, both in the Indie community and the traditional publishing houses.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Yes, and I apologize for the bombast. It is done to make a point about the need for excellence in all things. Our readers demand it. They are a relentless group of people who deserve our best. They find typos and are annoyed. They find errors like the example above and make that a topic of conversation. And after a while they stop trusting us to provide them with information and entertainment that exhibits the finest we can produce. Yes, we all make errors and it isn’t always a big deal. Let’s just make sure we have worked our very best to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Your Turn:
What errors have you found in a book recently that made you sigh with exasperation?

 

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Book Industry Trends

by Steve Laube

Publishing is partly an exercise in guessing what might be the next surprise bestseller. Some of it is an educated guess based on certain trends we see in the industry and in society at large. Any exercise in naming these trends bears the risk of expressing the obvious or being out of date the moment they are stated. So bear with me as I tinker with some of the things that are either influencing trends or are trends within themselves.

The Blockbuster Mentality

If it was your money you would likely “bet” on those book ideas that you know are going to sell a ton of copies. And only those who already have a track record are assured of a ready-made buying audience. In addition, for the non-fiction writer in particular, there is a demand for the author of have a visible or quantifiable platform from which they can launch their book ideas. Much ink has been spilled on defining platform and how to build one, and for good reason.

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When the Outlook is Bleak

by Steve Laube

In the constant ebb and flow of this industry we have authors celebrating and authors in tears. Ask any agent and you will hear the same. For every author excited about their new contract there is another experiencing bitter disappointment.

And I wish I could fix it.

To hear the anguish is difficult, but to be the one who delivers the bad news is heart-wrenching. Why is it that they seem to come in bunches? So what do you do when you run into the inevitable disappointments the writing experience throws at you?

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Ebook-Originals, the Next Step in Traditional Publishing Strategy

Guest Post by Sue Brower

Our guest today is Sue Brower. She is Executive Editor at Zondervan in charge of fiction and thinks she has the best job in the world…she gets paid to read all day!  Zondervan is currently looking for completed manuscripts to fill the Zondervan First fiction eBook platform.  The ideal stories will primarily have romance-driven plots and vivid, realistic characters.  We are also looking for proposals in the Contemporary, Historical, Suspense, and Romance categories for our print program.  Sue lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband Todd, dogs Pepper and Ollie, and cat, Shep.

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much the book market has changed in just a few short years.  Some bad, but mostly good because of all the new opportunities for innovation and creativity in publishing. Traditional publishing (print books sold through retail stores) is holding its own, but now there are so many more vehicles for authors to get published: print, epub-only, self-pub, etc.

A diehard fiction fan, I swore I would never give up my printed books and I didn’t believe that there would come a day when I wouldn’t be able to spend hours in a bookstore just browsing.  I love the way books smell; I love the way they feel.  Then the company I work for, Zondervan, gave me an IPad so that I could get comfortable with the format and so I could experience books electronically.  For a while everything I read was on my IPad; current books, as well as manuscripts I was considering for publication.  I thought it was so cool…for at first.  Then, a book was being released by my favorite author and I just had to have it in hardcover.  It wasn’t enough to have it loaded in perpetuity on my IPad, I wanted to be able to hold the story in my hands.  I enjoyed it more, become involved in the fantasy just as the writer intended.

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Goodbye to Traditional Publishing?

by Steve Laube

Recently Ann Voss Peterson wrote of her decision to never sign another contract with Harlequin. One major statistic from the article is that she sold 170,000 copies of a book but earned only $20,000.

Multiple clients sent me Peterson’s “Harlequin Fail” article and wanted my opinion. My first thought is that this was typical “the publisher is ripping me off” fodder. But that would be a simplistic and knee-jerk reaction and unfair to both Peterson and Harlequin.

Yes, Harlequin pays a modest royalty that is less than some publishers. Since when is that news? That has always been their business model because it is the only way to create and maintain an aggressive Direct-to-Consumer and Trade publishing program. Their publishing machine is huge and they are a “for profit” company. For Profit. If they are unprofitable, they go away.

If an author is uncomfortable with the terms, then don’t sign the contract (which is Peterson’s decision going forward). I urge each of you to be careful not to sign a contract and then complain about it later. Unless you were completely hoodwinked you agreed to those terms and should abide by them.

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News You Can Use – Nov. 15, 2011

The End of Borders and The Future of Bookselling – BusinessWeek article shows why Borders failed and why it doesn’t mean the demise of bookstores. Every writer should read this.

Another Change in How We Read Books? – Cloud-based book rentals…is it the future?

You Don’t Have to Accept Rejection – Copyblogger makes the case for the Indie route

Does Your Web Site Use Flash? – If so, then it is time to change. It is no longer supported by Adobe.

Random House of Canada to Try New Book Tour Model – Selling tickets that include the price of the book. Thus the book is “free.”

Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Owns the Web – A fascinating article from Wired magazine

Kindle’s Cost More to Make than What Amazon Charges – Obviously a “loss leader” that gets readers buying tons from Amazon.

A Fascinating infographic. Enjoy! (Click through to the original blog post to see the infographic.)

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The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread?

Guest Post by Teddi Deppner

Today debuts our first guest post. I first met Teddi at the Mt. Hermon Writers Conference while she sat through my Major Morning Track, listening patiently to 8 1/2 hours of lecture over four days. She has recently been asking some penetrating questions about technology and the publishing industry so I invited her to create a post and express those thoughts for your discussion.

Teddi Deppner has published hundreds of websites over the last 15+ years in her work as a professional web designer, marketer and consultant. Recently, she has launched on a quest to map out simple, effective strategies to share with creative people using the Internet and social media for their business. Find her latest projects at www.TeddiDeppner.com.

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Thanks to Steve for the opportunity to share some thoughts with his audience. This post, intended primarily to open a lively discussion, was sparked by an article by Craig Mod about “Post-Artifact Book Publishing”.

Craig’s essay presents the idea that books have traditionally been artifacts: the concrete, physical products of an author. He diagrams the process and participants in the creation, publishing and distribution of this artifact and how things are changing now that books have become more than static artifacts.

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All About E

This was the year of the E word. “E-Books.” The topic replaced the other “e” word…the Economy…as the number one topic among authors, editors, publishers and agents. And the news media reported every nuance with breathless excitement. The iPad, the iPhone4,  the Droid, the avalanche of tablets, the Kindle, the Nook, and a deluge of e-reading devices, all commanded our time and attention.

But the story is not over. In fact 2011 promises to continue this conversation as our industry writhes in chronic pain from its various twists and turns.

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E-Book Buyers Buy More Books

New research by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) has made some interesting discoveries.

E-book consumers say they are buying more books overall, but fewer in print, and are decreasing their total dollars spent More than 40% of e-book readers have reduced the number and dollars spent on hardcovers and paperbacks. Retailers are becoming more important than publishers as a source of information about e-books. General fiction and mysteries are the fastest-growing e-book genres. More respondents received e-readers as gifts than bought them for themselves.
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E-Books Redux: Behind the Stats

I had hoped to let yesterday’s post put much of my thoughts to rest on the issue of e-books…at least for a while.

But today I came across this article “What Amazon Didn’t Say About E-Books” by David Carnoy for CNET. In the article he makes some very strong statements regarding Amazon’s claim of reaching a “tipping point” with regard to Kindle sales and its impact on e-book sales.

Do yourself a favor and read the article.

Then vow to lay it all aside for the rest of the Summer and write your book!

And no, the picture for this post is not our cat. I simply found the picture and thought it might get your attention. Feel free to submit your own caption for the photo in the comment section.

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