Editors Make Mistakes Too, and it is Okay
It is a lot of work to write a book, and authors and editor’s everywhere can never, no matter how hard they try, be perfect. It is a fool’s errand to consider perfection the goal.
What ultimately matters is that the story shines through in a clear and well-written manner. We do our best for readers. We want to put our best foot forward, but no matter how hard we try someone will always find something we missed.
Plus, we all have off days (not to be confused with days off, which no writer nor editor ever truly gets).
It doesn’t help that English has many dialects (Canadian, American, British, Australian, and other more localized dialects) and subjective choices when it comes to grammar, syntax, and punctuation (it is why we use or create style guides as editors).
For example, the first sentence of this post could:
- have a comma after the first ‘and’;
- use a semicolon;
- be separated into two sentences;
- use a different conjunctive adverb other than ‘and’;
- be left as it is.
All of those are technically correct.
A writer gets the story out, then rewrites to improve clarity and hone the story. An editor navigates the technicalities, works with the author’s style, uses the publisher’s or appropriate style guide, and keeps up with current conventions to find the right balance between story, style, and structure. All of that goes into a single sentence.
It isn’t uncommon for the brain to fill in gaps or try to predict what is next as you read, or for your vision to go blurry after reading something for hours or for the tenth time. Remember the meme about reading jumbled words? Cambridge explains some of the science and psuedo science here.
Follow the link below to some famous books that readers still loved (or hated to love or loved to hate) with errors.
Meanwhile I am going to be in a corner trying not to worry about the errors in my own books….