Electronic Means Never Needing to Say “I’m Sorry.”

I am not perfect.

Shocking admission, I know.

But I have to admit – I *was* shocked when I first published SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL, the second volume in my Jane Madison series.  I had carefully done a great deal of research about various aspects of witchcraft — runes and herbs and crystals…

One thing that I did not completely research, though, was a major ritual that Jane performs toward the end of the book.  That ritual includes a call to the four quarters (the cardinal compass points, as bound by their respective elements.)  It absolutely, positively, 100% never occurred to me that the quarters were dedicated to specific elements.  Blindly creating, I got it wrong.  And the copy-editor never checked my facts, so that  error made print.

I heard from one Wiccan reader almost immediately (actually, I read about my mistake in her review of the book.)  I admitted my failing to noted Pagan author, Deborah Blake, who readily made herself available for future consultation.  But the damage was done — the mistake was enshrined in print, for every reader to find.

That error has niggled at me for years now.  Alas, I had not even known enough to know what I did not know!  (Reminds me of the times when my parents sent me to the dictionary to learn the proper spelling of words…)

But now, I am finally able to correct my mistake.  I am preparing the Jane Madison series for release as electronic books, and I’m reading through the files.  I’ve normalized my manuscripts to reflect the books’ final published forms.  I’ve corrected a couple of typos.  And, finally, I’ve corrected Jane’s ritual in SORCERY.

I’m not 100% convinced that independent publishing is the best thing for authors — there are plenty of instances where I think a traditional publishing model works better.  I have to say, though, that it feels pretty good to finally obliterate my Jane Madison mistake.  (The books should be available, with spiffy new covers, in a week or so.)

So?  How about you?  What errors have you found in your own work or other published novels that you wish could have been corrected before they were read by others — beta readers or the general public?

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  1. 1. Jeff Stover

    Honestly, the quality from many Legacy publishers has gone down. I’ve found and heard about more typos in new books than you would think are permissible, so I’m not sure what’s happened. Ebooks and POD allow for post-publishing corrections, so that’s awesome.

    Mindy, could you specify the instances that the trad. model works better? From this end, it looks like the author–and readers–are better served if the author is the managing editor, so to speak (manages the project with real editors).

  2. 2. Mindy Klasky

    Jeff – I think that traditional publishers have cut back on staff, including copyeditors, the same way that newspapers have, and the result is more errors slipping into final editions. (Authors catch some, but not all, when reading galleys. Also, occasionally, errors caught by authors don’t get corrected in finals.)

    As for where the traditional model works:

    1. Financially. My accountant (and my mortgage lender and a bunch of other people) are really happy to see huge chunks of five-digit advances arriving in my bank account on a regular basis. Those payments, made on a regular and predictable basis due to contractual commitments, make managing my fiscal life much easier. Moreover, those payments are made before I make the investment of writing a novel – that makes my return on investment a sure thing, for some defined amount of money (plus, there’s the potential for more, from royalties.)

    2. Energy-ly. My primary skill is as an author. I have fairly-highly-developed business management skills. I have very good editing skills (but not perfect copy-editing skills). I have minimal marketing skills. I have few computer technical skills. I have zero artistic skills. Yet, when I self-publish, I am required to take charge of every aspect of every publication — from writing to editing to designing to making available online, and everything in between. Of course, I can hire people to do those things (and I routinely hire an artist to design my covers), but every penny I put out in advance of publication is yet another penny that I must wait to recoup.

    Basically, it comes down to an equation. I can be paid $X, in advance of my work, by a traditional publisher. Or I can pay $.25X (approximately, given my current value of X) to independent professionals, manage those professionals, write a work, and hope to recoup the money paid plus the money I would have received under a traditional contract.

    X shifts, of course, as careers rise and fall. And costs shift, as markets change. (It’s more expensive to hire cover artists now than it was a couple of years ago, for example.) My individual financial needs vary from year to year.

    But I still find the equation much more difficult than “self-publishing is always better.” At least for now.

    Make sense?

  3. 3. Jeff Stover

    Makes sense, Mindy.

    It goes without saying that the pros of trad. publishing are advances and retaining a role as “just the talent,” letting the publishing grunts to the dirty work.

    But from a production-value standpoint, I think hard-working, business savvy authors who are willing to do “grunt work” can make books at or above the level of quality of traditional publishers.

    Selling those good books, however…well, that’s the real trick, isn’t it?

    Trad. publishing is still the safer bet for authors.

    As you said, for now…

  4. 4. Mindy Klasky

    Jeff -

    Wow, I didn’t communicate very well. I don’t consider the publishing industry to be “dirty work” – I think that there is a definite art (and, in some cases, science) to editing, copyediting, book design, art creation, marketing, publicity, and many other jobs in the industry.

    Maybe I’m just getting hung up on semantics, but “grunt work”, to me, connotes things that a trained monkey can do. I don’t think that publishing tasks can be shoved off on just anyone; rather, they should be performed by skilled individuals.

    We’re in absolute agreement, though, that the overall goal is to sell books. Lots of ‘em :-)

  5. 5. Elias McClellan

    I’m a belt AND suspenders kind of guy. As an unpublished, (but that hasn’t stopped me from commenting yet) aspiring author, I comment Mr. Stover’s entrepreneurial spirit. Having looked that word up, (to insure I’m spelling it correctly) I find it means risk taker. Not my bag.

    In fact not only do I relish the idea of as many seasoned professionals guiding my little endeavor as possible, I honestly feel that a lot of established/successful writers could use a little more editorial input to curb their run-on at the pen/keyboard. Further, I’ve found quirky books by social challenged writers that would’ve never found an audience without patrons in pinstripes.

    Are there mis-fires and mistakes on both sides of the question? Sure, there always are and will be. However, I think it comes down to very personal standards of value and comfort. As for the issue of “grunt work,” whether you respect the very valuable work of editors, accountants, and marketing folks or not, truth will out which option is best for each individual. Never forget the sage wisdom of Too Short, “Pimping ain’t easy.”

  6. 6. Cindy Borgne

    I think there is an advantage for the small or self-publisher to stick to e-formats first before going to print because electronic is a lot easier to fix. Not that an author should rely on readers to find the mistakes, but authors are only human and imperfect. So it does happen. I think when it comes down to everything an author can’t even rely on their editors to find everything.

    I don’t know that much about rituals, so I would’ve never noticed. It sounds kind of complicated.


  1. SFNovelists Post | Mindy Klasky, Author

Author Information

Mindy Klasky

Mindy Klasky is the author of eleven novels, including WHEN GOOD WISHES GO BAD and HOW NOT TO MAKE A WISH in the As You Wish Series. She also wrote GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT, SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL, and MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL, about a librarian who finds out she's a witch. Mindy also wrote the award-winning, best-selling Glasswrights series and the stand-alone fantasy novel, SEASON OF SACRIFICE. Visit site.



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