How Well Can the Barber Cut His Own Hair?


February 21, 2016


Or rather: How well can a writer edit and proof his or her own work?

As a writer as well as a working editor/proofreader, I was shocked to see that (at least) two glitches in my second novel (TRUST ME) got past me, my editor, the copy editor, and the proofreader. They’re the kind of glitches that, when I come across them, make me thumb back through pages to see if I missed something, but then, I’m a picky reader and it’s hard for me to turn off my editor brain, even when I’m reading for enjoyment. Meanwhile, NOBODY noticed the glitches, except my son, who basically has my brain.

Fortunately, my editor fixed them on the Kindle and other e- versions.

I mellowed a bit when I saw, in a book by one of my favorite writers, not one but two instances of “delegated” where he meant “relegated.” So okay, shit happens, we do the best we can individually and with our teams. I’ve heard it said that typos, spelling errors, and grammar issues are more common these days, and not only with self-published work; cost-containment constraints cause the big publishers to siphon money that previously would have gone to editing and reallocate it to marketing. Perfection is an impossible goal, and there’s a point of diminishing returns on energy spent pursuing it.

On the other hand, artisans sand their wood carvings to a sheen; music producers add sweetener to a final mix; and jewelers grind and polish to as close to perfection as they can get. We all want to deliver the best work we can.

What’s your threshold of tolerance for errors when you’re reading? And what’s your experience with finding errors in your own work after it’s been committed to print?

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  • katie on March 31, 2016

    I think your books are the best even if there’s a typo or too….to? two 😉

  • Rich on May 30, 2016

    Give me an Earl Javorsky novel with a couple of mistakes and a very original story told exceptionally well, over poor plotting and abysmal characterisation found in most of the dross out there!

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