Sunday, April 15, 2007

Are there no competent proofreaders left?

Sometimes they passed others from the village there on the tote road and his father would rein in the horses and inquire politely about the errand on which the traveler was bent and the luck with which his various enterprises were being greeted, and then he would tip his hat, cluck and lift the reigns up, and then down, and they were off again.

--The Translation of Dr Apelles

Whoever proofread Special Topics in Calamity Physics didn't know the difference between rein and reign either.

19 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

Oh dear, I didn't notice when I read Special Topics. I'm not happy with myself about that.

Imani said...

I actually noticed that in another reputable novel I read the other day and was amazed. (There are more in the Treuer too, brace yourself.) Oh it was the Pamuk, My Name is Red. I was pretty horrified.

SFP said...

I wish I'd thought to mark it, Dorothy.

So far I haven't spotted any others in the Treuer, so I'm either not paying enough attention or haven't reached them yet.

Gentle Reader said...

I'm so glad bad proofreading drives other people crazy, too!

Melanie said...

Me too - I thought I was being a bit picky, but I find mistakes like that utterly annoying, and I'm sure the author must, too.

david said...

the author does! he does find it annoying! rein versus reign--seriously, that kind of thing is enough to ruin a book for me. and in my own book! but it's not too late. if you find any more gaffs let me know: they can reset the book before paperback. seriously. i'll owe you all big time!

david treuer

Stefanie said...

How annoying. Is it my imagination or does it seem things like this happen more often these days?

Maxine said...

Isn't that a gaffe? ;-)

My dad was just telling me on the phone tonight how in Brenda Maddox's latest book, "archive" is wrongly spelt as "achieve".

I guess it may happen more often these days if publishers are relying on computer word searches, as these sorts of error are just the kind of thing that would not be picked up.

SFP said...

Hi David. I finished your novel less than an hour ago and can safely say the errors didn't ruin it for me (rein/reign is a personal pet peeve): I loved it. :)

Imani may remember others, but there are two spots I can point out that may need your attention. There's a comma splice (and I'm encountering comma splices in books quite often these days; perhaps they're now in style) between the two sentences in bold print on p. 21, and I'm not sure if you meant to say the birds were "bragging" their bellies on p. 263. "Dragging," maybe?

Boo, hiss, to computer word searches. A ms. needs fresh eyes, that's all there is to it.

david said...

thanks for the p21 comma splice--that'll get fixed. and yes, "bragged" is intentional (you know, how birds both show off AND drag their bellies when swooping . . .) and glad to hear the book wasn't ruined. (i remember reading Song of Solomon and wincing when a .22 cal rifle was described as a "shotgun")

d

3M said...

It is getting rather irksome. I'm finding more errors all the time. A book I read recently had recieve and decieve. Deplorable.

Imani said...

Oh, I don't remember any specific examples now, just that they existed. This could give me an excuse to read it again...

I'm really jealous that Treuer commented on your blog. I'll have to read his manual for comfort.

Sylvia said...

Having been an editor myself, I come across these things a lot, especially in newspapers! It makes you feel like some kind of Word Police:)

BlueRectangle Books

Quixotic said...

I've been noticing this more and more in books, newspapers and magazines. Moreso in the newspapers and magazines, but still... It seems to be getting worse of late. One article in a major daily newspaper recently was so bad I cringed throughout.

Kailana said...

I posted about this very thing on my blog in the last little while and someone told me it is because books very rarely go through the last editing process, so they do not get a chance to pick up on these problems. It is about money, I would imagine, one less person you have to pay.

acquisitionist said...

Working in a bookstore we have access to proof copies of books but I often pass them up for fear that these kind of errors would ruin them for me.

Fay said...

The typos in a recent anthology of Montana women writers was aggravating, but the books from the big publishing houses are just as likely to have errors as the provincial ones, as we have all seen. The comments about cost cutting cover part of the problem, but we also seem to have developed a culture of people doing as little as they can get away with and still get paid for doing their jobs. It's a general chipping away at civility.

I know this makes me sound like an old fogie, but considering how difficult it is to get hired at a publishing house, in any capacity, you would think they could find copy editors who still place a value on excellence.

Kailana, if I'm following you, it sounds like the final copy editing process is being eliminated entirely? Then it's a business decision to be sloppy and not individual sloth. By the way, I hope there are no typos in this post!

Lesley said...

Do they even HAVE proofreaders anymore? It seems nowadays that it's almost impossible to read a book that doesn't contain at least some errors.

gautami tripathy said...

That is irritating!