Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Spelling Challenge...

At one time, you seldom found misspelled words in published work. Everyone knew how to spell and those who didn't owned a dictionary and knew how to use it.

The bad thing about having a misspelled word in a print work is...it's a done deal. There's no way to go back and fix it until the next edition (if there is one). Unlike digital works, the author, the readers, the publishers have to live with the mistake. Today author Jayne Ann Krentz pointed out and apologized for an error in her newest print book--and promised it would be rectified in the paperback edition.

Now with digital, it's a different story. That same book was also released in digital form with the same error. And that can be corrected immediately. So any reader who buys that book in say...the next week or so, should have the corrected copy.

But what about digital errors on the Internet? Who do you tell? One of the headlines on the Weather Channel was "Tender, Dry Conditions Keep West Fires Burning". No, I don't think so. That would be "Tinder". That's the stuff that burns.

While I'll be the first person to say that everyone makes a mistake now and then, it seems to me the number of spelling mistakes is escalating. And calling them typos isn't addressing the real problem. Part of it is carelessness. But a bigger part is ignorance.

You read that correctly. The days when spelling correctly was a matter of pride are gone. The day with an author checked word usage and spelling in a dictionary is gone. Sadly, many simply shrug and move on.

Some even ask, "What's the big deal?"

For a reader like me, it's a matter of tossing me right out of the story. Too many tosses and I toss your book. Once I do that, I'll never buy another. Remember, competition is stiff. There are millions of books out there for me to read. And my time is limited. Why should I spend time and money on your book if you don't care enough to make sure you're using the correct word? It's a two way street.

I think that's probably why I re-read my older books rather than buying new. Yeah, I think so. Authors, publishers, editors took pride in their work and delivered a quality product. As for Ms. Krentz? She's promised to make good on the error. I'm proud to read her books.



  1. I'm currently reading a non-fic by one of my favorite writers and the editing is horrible. Route is rouute, huge is hugh. Very sad for a non-fiction piece by a respected historian printed by a major house.

  2. After a certain point, I can't continue. It just makes me crazy.

  3. I'm with you! I recently read a blog post by a young woman who mean to use the word 'past' but used 'passed'. I doubt she noticed the difference. That word was all I noticed.

  4. It really does throw me too. I try very hard to find and fix them in my own work, but after reading something a few dozen times, your brain does skip over them. That's why it is so important to have readers who will proofread for you before even sending it to an agent or editor. The more eyes to catch the mistakes before it's published, the better.

  5. Absolutely! The more eyes, the better. And passed/past...I'm seeing that one more and more!

  6. When the new arrivals came to Australia a few hundred years ago, often the "officals" weren't much good at spelling. Many many families tracing their genealogies have discovered that Smith used to be Smythe, and Brown, Browne, and so on. Of course, once the "offical" wrote your name as Smith, that's what you were, no matter how much you argued it had always been spelled "Smythe'.

  7. I have a few of those "name changes" in my family!

  8. When I was at Uni studying the evolution of language and the ever so not exciting Lingusitics it was put to us that language is always evolving and the words and spelling today may not be the same as tomorrow and because language is fluid and dynamic and based on vernacular and experience you just have to get over what you think you know and evole with it - spelling and all. See? I did attend at least one lecture