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Nobody’s Perfect

Previously, I suggested, with tongue in cheek, using the abbreviation ‘E. & O. E.’ as a disclaimer against any errors made in your self-published novel, to protect yourself from buyers’ bad reviews, but the truth is, nobody is perfect, and although we should perhaps aim to be perfect, making errors is a part of being human.

A couple of years ago, I was approached by a previously published author, who wanted her paperback novel prepared and self-published for the Kindle platform. Because she did not have an electronic version of the typescript, I painstakingly scanned – using my trusty ‘Deskjet’ printer and OCR software – every paper page of the novel, proofreading it as I went, to ensure it was as error-free as possible before publication.

Within the 426-page novel, I flagged up forty errors: an assortment of incorrect spellings, punctuation mistakes, inconsistencies, and an incorrect quotation. This book had been copy-edited, proofread and printed via a well-known publishing company who are still in business today. When I have mentioned, to friends and colleagues, the mistakes I have spotted in books printed by mainstream publishers, they have invariably come back with, ‘I agree; I’m always spotting them.’ It seems to be a fact of life.

Clearly, it is important to get things right when planning to self-publish, but it’s probably not enough to get things as right as possible. A publication has to be as perfect as it can be, particularly so with non-fiction. I’m not just talking about spelling, punctuation, and grammar, either, but getting the facts right, being consistent, and making sure the typography is correct. These things are equally important.

However, as rigorous as we might think we are, we all make mistakes: the writer, the copy-editor, the typographer, the proofreader…we all do it – and that includes me!

The fortunate thing about self-publishing, is that it is a simple enough procedure to update and re-publish a novel, but this may only happen when Joe Public has already bought the book and has kindly brought the error to the world’s attention in their review…as I once discovered, much to my embarrassment:

“There was no doubting whose father Edith was.”

Oops! Not my mistake, but one I did not spot the first time round.

So if you do find an error among these blog entries, remember ‘nobody’s perfect’, although I do try my best to be. Some days are just better than others.

E & O E

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