Typos, Spellcheckers and Proofreaders – Don’t Get Me Started!


I’ve just produced a book for a first time writer that has broken all records….well, at least the records I keep. I will share them with you if that’s okay?

The writer is a smashing chap. It’s his first book, and I suspect his only one, but it’s good fun and I know he will sell a stack of copies to his friends, relations, work colleagues and fellow ‘hobbyists’.

I am not going to name him, obviously, and there is no way he will ever read this…..but let’s just say his manuscript came to me a couple of weeks ago to be turned into a book and published by my imprint Write Good Books. Fair enough.

The 120,000 word manuscript contained rather a lot of typos, spelling errors, grammar quirks, misplaced commas, a vague number of full stops and a weird and wonderful use Or Misuse of Caps and incorrect spellings of place names…..san Francissco mite Give, you some idae of The problem  !!.

So what could I do? Send the manuscript back and tell him to check it all again? Well, I suppose I could have…..but, no I didn’t. This man is of a certain age and I had an inkling he had simply had enough of his manuscript and just wanted to get it into print….a lifelong wish to ‘get it all into a book while I still remember it’ kind of scenario.

So, I pointed out that the script contained a ‘rather a lot of typos’ and did he want me to go through the book and correct them as best I could? “No”, was the answer, quickly followed by ‘”I’ve already spell-checked it and it was fine”.

But I couldn’t just let it go at that…..I couldn’t possibly live with publishing a book with so many errors……so I began the long process of correcting the manuscript as best I could in any free time I had available…..it was a long haul. I’m not looking for sympathy here, just stating the facts, ma’am.

So what’s the point of this post? Well, simply that if you write something, anything, you really DO owe it to your readers to get it right. Spellcheckers only work up to a point. They are not the Holy Grail. Human’s are better, but still capable of missing tons of spelling mistakes, so in the end it’s down to the writer (YOU) to check, and recheck and check again.

Proofreaders? Are they the way to go? Spend money? In my whole publishing/self publishing ‘career’ I’ve yet to meet one writer who has employed one. Not one. It’s a money thing.

So what to do? Well, I know a lot of you employ the tactic of picking maybe five people you trust to read your manuscript looking for inaccuracies of any kind and then getting them to report back…..and it works. I know. I’ve been there and done that. So perhaps that’s your back up….but as I say, first and foremost it’s your responsibility. As writers we all owe it to our readers to GET IT WRITE. Sorry….GET IT RIGHT.

Finally, apologies for the long-winded rant of a post…….but here to prove to you that spell-checkers really don’t work is a poem I found all over the web….it’s worth a look…..

Eye have a spelling chequer,
It came with my Pea Sea.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss Steaks I can knot sea.

Eye strike the quays and type a whirred
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am write oar wrong
It tells me straight a weigh.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your shore real glad two no.
Its vary polished in its weigh.
My chequer tolled me sew.

A chequer is a bless thing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right all stiles of righting,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The chequer pours o’er every word
Two cheque sum spelling rule.

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About writegoodbooks

I help new writers become published authors through self-publishing. I also offer writers the chance to have their work converted into Kindle eBooks and publish them on the Amazon Kindle store.

7 responses to “Typos, Spellcheckers and Proofreaders – Don’t Get Me Started!”

  1. warmginger says :

    You are clearly a very kind and patient person. I’d have sent the poor novice writer home with a flea in his ear!

    • writegoodbooks says :

      Yes, I suppose spanking his behind for producing such a sloppy piece of work is one way of looking at it….but after reading the manuscript I realised there was a rather good read here and that it would have been a shame to deny his family and friends and fellow hobbyists a chance to read all about his many exploits far and wide. I know they will all enjoy it.

      I can see that after a good deal of correcting the book will do well….he’s already pre-sold a hatful of books because he’s an extrovert and interesting older chap………
      I suppose, in the end, that’s why rather than turn him away I opted to do the work for him….

      I think the description of me as ‘kind’ and ‘patient’ is overdoing it a bit. Patient I will accept….that’s the business I’m in….

  2. vegan farm girl in the city says :

    Since it’s your imprint, you have the right to reject it. So why didn’t you? This is the kind of writer who shouldn’t be published and by doing so you’ve encouraged bad writing.

    • writegoodbooks says :

      You are absolutely right of course, and to be honest I am expecting a few more comments along these lines.

      However….I have to say that I work a lot with ‘writers’ who have obvious problems getting their thoughts down on paper in what you or I would call a ‘well written and crafted way’. Sloppy might be another word for it I admit, but this is a chap who has obviously struggled all his life to put pen to paper……

      It’s an area I’ve worked in for a good few years and I try my best to help out writers like this whenever I can. As I said in the post this guy has a good story to tell, and his manuscript makes for interesting reading and is genuinely funny, outrageous and well worth publishing and will appeal to a lot of people in his age/hobby group. It IS worth publishing, but only after I’ve edited it for him.

      If it was truly bad I would have turned him down, you are right in that respect, but even then I would have offered some kind of help and advice (definitely).

      Interestingly enough he contacted me this morning to say that he has already pre-sold quite a lot of his books, and will certainly sell all his books and recoup ALL his outlay.

      Thanks for the comment by the way…..

  3. Ensis says :

    The Poem is phenomenal!
    I know what you mean–a writer freind of mine published his work in ebook form a year or so ago–and I dutifully downloaded it–but it was painfully clear he failed to have more than just himself and his girlfreind proofread it. My favorite mistake was the mispelled racial slur, “gukes.” Not done in irony.
    After I bought his book I sort of pointedly lost touch with him…

    Any advice on how to break this kind of criticsm to fellow writers who have lost their way?

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