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Nobody's Perfect!

March 15, 2018

I read a lot on the indie author message boards, and in reviews of books that are posted online (not just mine), and a common theme is errors made by indie authors in their publications.

 

It's true, indie authors make mistakes, and without the financial resources to pay for professional editors, proof-readers and the like, we sometimes make more errors than traditionally published books. This isn't necessarily true though, but we do make mistakes which sometimes make their way through to the finished product. Traditionally published books, by big name authors and published by big publishing houses are perfect though, right?

 

WRONG!

 

Even though big publishing firms, those that publish books written by well known authors, contain mistakes. I've found mistakes myself, and some are mistakes that should have been caught by the expensive proof-reading and editing process, but they still managed to make it in to print.

 

You don't believe me? Well, simply pick up a copy of "Christine", written by the king of horror, Stephen King (and one of my personal favorites). While not a spelling error, there is a consistency error in the story, and it is a big one, but not big enough for me to freak out, write nasty reviews and disregard the story. I think the story is wonderful, creative and entertaining...I only wish I could have written it!

 

My readers may notice that I have included automobiles in each of my stories. I do this for 2 reasons:

1) Cars are an integral part of our lives, and for many people, they represent not only basic transportation, but they also represent nostalgia, invoke memories and represent social status.

2) I just love cars. Period.

 

While driving home this evening, I was listening to the audio version of "Christine", an unabridged version (meaning it was read exactly as the book was published). I had thought I heard the narrator say that Arnie, the teenager who purchased Christine, had opened the back door of the 1958 Plymouth Fury when he first found her. That was several days ago, and it sounded strange to me as Christine has always been a 2 door Sport Coupe, not a 4 door sedan. I ignored the first mention of Christine's back doors, but tonight I heard confirmation of the car again: Christine was a 1958 Plymouth Fury Sport Coupe, a 2 door car. A few minutes later, I again heard reference made to Christine having 4 doors when Dennis (the hero of the story) said he saw all 4 door locks pushed down on Christine.

 

Being a Stephen King fan, I made a mental note to check the original hard cover book I have at home (1983 publication, a first edition no less). When I got home, after letting my dogs out, feeding them and starting my own dinner, I went to my collection of Stephen King books, found "Christine" and checked what Mr. King had written. Sure enough, there were references to Christine having back doors despite the fact that she is also confirmed as having been a 1958 Plymouth Fury Sport Coupe, which only has 2 doors.

 

This may seem like a minor detail to a non-car fanatic, but it is, at least to me and other car lovers, a major consistency error. The error was made in 1983, allowed to go to print by a major publishing house, and made by one of the best horror writers to come along, ever. I smiled a bit at learning that not only had one of my favorite authors made an error in his story (which is still one of my all time favorite stories), the big-time publishing house and all their money, proofreaders and editors missed, and put in print.  So where is the outrage from the reading pubic?

 

There is none, and there shouldn't be. Christine is a wonderful story, written with an amazing passion and imagination that few people have. The story entertains, terrifies and teaches a lesson. It has been made into a movie which also entertained and terrified audiences, and is still relevant today. In short, "Christine" is a classic and an error in the story doesn't detract from that fact.

 

Speaking from personal experience, when you are on a creative "roll", and the story is flowing, you often write faster than your mind can catch mistakes. Even when proofreading your manuscript, you can miss errors which may be obvious to others. Proofreaders may also miss a mistake, as well as computer programs, and suddenly your mistake is published and out there for the whole world to see. It can be a mortifying thing to experience as an author, but it's not always the end of the world.

 

If you are reading an indie author's story, and you happen to find a mistake (grammar, spelling or consistency), 99 times out of 100, he or she would welcome a quick note mentioning the error. I know I would, and I have appreciated feedback from my readers.

 

As long as the author's story entertains the reader, and the mistake or mistakes you made don't detract from the story, a reader will most likely overlook it/them. There cannot be too many mistakes though, as even the best story will become annoying and unenjoyable to a reader if they are constantly finding mistakes in your work.

 

Thank you Mr. King for providing readers like me with years of interesting, entertaining and imaginative stories, and thank you for proving you are human, and mistakes are made. You remain an inspiration to countless authors and future authors.

 

I still love the story "Christine", and a minor consistency error will never change that!

 

 

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