on typos, self-publishing, and a book bite

Typos are a part of life. And they drive me insane.

The fact that I’m slightly a head case is pretty well documented, but very few people have viewed my career insanity firsthand. Wrestling with my desire to be a perfectionist makes me wince every time I find one of my own typos.

Spelling things wrong can be cute, of course…

Written by my flower girl. I love the “have a nice life” sentiment. I still hope I chose the rite one.

Or they can be so hit-you-over-the-head wrong that they become laughable.

Joam might be more popular than Joan one of these days. Who knows? (Also, I’m not a doctor, and that’s no longer my last name.)

Which brings me to my next subject. There are so many advocates for self-publishing now, which is vastly different than even three years ago, when I was finishing up my MFA. I’m not completely cemented on this idea yet, but I have to say that I’m not the biggest fan of self-publishing.

I think that one of the biggest mistakes people make is sending out stuff before it’s ready. This goes for both traditional and self-publishing. With the option to become internet famous at nearly everyone’s fingertips, people jump the gun and too frequently submit things for review that aren’t ready to be submitted.

I can almost always figure out if I’m reading something that has been self-published because of the number of typos. Imagine how bad it is for a publishing company to edit release a book, only to have it be littered with bad writing … let alone dozens of typos. When an author self-publishes something that hasn’t been completely gutted, they’re doing the same thing to their very own brand, right?

Typos are like what my husband and his idiot friends call “go home stains.” They ruin a great outfit.

A serious go-home stain.

The biggest piece of advice for my students is always to read their work out loud. When I was finishing up my master’s thesis, I read the entire 215-page piece out loud. Paragraph by paragraph; page by page.

Let’s be honest. It was the worst.

It was also by far and away what made the piece more successful.

When something is:

  • a New York Times and USA Today bestselling book
  • on the Amazon “top paid” list for three weeks
  • listed quite cheaply online
  • rated at 4.5 stars by over 500 people
  • discovered at 2 a.m. when I can’t sleep

I might buy it. Which is the case with Wait For You by J. Lynn. And then I might read things like this:

“‘Excuse me?’ Jacob almost knocked over his pyramid of awesome. ‘I’m hot.’
Cam frowned. ‘So I am.’” [sic]

Don’t get me wrong. I am not this novel’s ideal reader. This story has so many elements of a decent novel: a character who deals with something difficult AND makes a transformation. It also has a few colorful, and yet clichéd characters. There’s episodes of sexual tension, which based on books like Fifty Shades of Grey , are capable of luring in millions of readers. (Sidebar: I didn’t like that one, either.) This one is geared toward young adults – actual young adults though, as in college-aged people, rather than the YA fiction that’s out there now.

I’d grade it a C-. Read it if you like romances, but not if typos drive you up the wall.