Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Errors, Errors, and More Errors!


I was working on an about-to-be published history book a few months ago, and as I was going through I noticed that many of the dates were either:

1. incorrect

OR

2. inconsistent (a certain war was said to have started in, say, 1756 in one place, 1757 in another, and 1759 near the end of the book). Which is it people? Pick ONE.

There was a time when publishing was far more about quality and accuracy than about profit and schedules. Now it's "You've got 1-2 weeks to edit this 1,000-page book. IT CANNOT SLIP OUT OF SCHEDULE!!!" Editors used to spend 6-8-10 weeks making sentences perfect and facts accurate. I remember literally studying each and every sentence in a manuscript for phrasing and accuracy. But that was so long ago. Now everything is "Hurry up! We need it NOW!" Bye-bye correct phrasing and overall accuracy.

It's so sad that an industry that was for so many years consumed by the issue of quality is now run by financial guys interested only in the bottom line. Change is not always a good thing.

Yep, definitely sad.

15 Comments:

Blogger SkylersDad said...

I have been working as a tech writer for the past year or so, and before that wrote technical training. We had an expression, I can give it to you good, fast, or cheap. Pick two...

Dec 12, 2007, 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Zed said...

Thanks SD. I had no idea you were a writer/editor as well.

I always think you can pick only ONE:

1. I can do a good job, but you need to give me the time to do it.
OR
2. I can do this job very quickly, but I can't vouch for it's accuracy or quality
OR
3. I can do it cheap, but I'll give you a job worth what you're paying me: a piss-poor job if I am not compensated fairly; a high-quality job if you make an attempt at adequate compensation.

The job I was complaining about was 1000 pages long. The publisher gave me two weeks to complete it instead of six weeks--AND was late with supplying page proofs. Yeah, that's fair. Not.

Dec 12, 2007, 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger pistols at dawn said...

No one will ever pay as much attention as you do. People will just see a book about history and run screaming towards the Sue Grafton books anyway.

Dec 12, 2007, 3:13:00 PM  
Blogger Lynda said...

My husband works in publishing and has the same issues.

It sucks.

Dec 12, 2007, 3:56:00 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

so did you mention the "date" issue?

Dec 12, 2007, 5:51:00 PM  
Blogger Zed said...

Pistols, thanks, I feel better. I think.

Lynda, it's frustrating beyond belief. I understand Dan's pain.

Teri, I did. But part of me wants the publisher to hear from disgruntled book buyers complaining about all the inaccuracies. Maybe they'd realized they're not pleasing their customers and change--but I doubt it. It's all about $$$. But then, isn't everything these days?

Dec 12, 2007, 7:12:00 PM  
Blogger chelene said...

I was reading a book last month that had lots of errors which was surprising because it was written by a major author and published by a major publishing house.

I'm hoping he never looks at his own book because I'm thinking he'd be livid.

Dec 12, 2007, 9:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I called the main office
to try and get you a pay raise

they said no..

I tried.


PS. They said "Hurry up"

those bastards..

Dec 13, 2007, 7:31:00 PM  
Blogger GETkristiLOVE said...

I used to work with Skydad until the bum left me to fend for myself, so Ill just ditto what he said. They used to give us time to write it well, but now we do four documents in the same amount of time, and we only send it through editing once. ONCE!

Dec 13, 2007, 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Dale said...

I hate errurs.

Dec 14, 2007, 7:58:00 AM  
Blogger The Gifted Typist said...

Zed, perhaps you should slip in a little Editor's Note at the end informing readers that all facts have been check but there was not time given to correct them. That'll show em.

Dec 14, 2007, 3:07:00 PM  
Blogger The Gifted Typist said...

Sorry, facts have been "checked" - thought I'd correct that little typo, given the subject matter and the number of writers commenting here...

Dec 14, 2007, 3:09:00 PM  
Blogger BeckEye said...

That's like when James Caan approved that book about the puppy and pigeon for printing, even though it was missing the last two pages.

Ok...I've watched "Elf" one too many times in preparation for Christmas.

Dec 23, 2007, 4:14:00 AM  
Blogger Dale said...

Have an era free Xmas!

Dec 23, 2007, 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Sushiboy said...

Happy Christmas Zed!

Dec 24, 2007, 3:57:00 AM  

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