Michael Haskins

Monday, April 28, 2008

So, where did the errors come from?

I wrote my book. It took about a year, but if you put my actual writing days together it would have been a full six months. It took a lot of sweat, a lot of rewriting and mental anguish. The publisher sent it to an editor in NYC and it came back to me with a few minor corrections.

I was asked if I really wanted to leave mention of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in the final chapters. At that time, Castor’s illness was all over the print and electric media and, of course, the Cuban exiles in Miami were celebrating his expected death.

I couldn’t avoid mention of Castro and assured the editor that the Washington CIA, who were predicting his death, would have a hard time finding the island of Cuba if they left Key West and headed south. The government’s view of Cuba is tinted by the Miami exiles and, a lot like Iraq, what it knows about Cuba is what it believes the exile community wants to hear.

So, I did a bit of a compromise and assumed Castro would be out of power by the time the book came out. So I referred from the present tense of Castro to something along the lines of “now that Castro was out of the picture,” this and that . . . (you’ll need to read the book, because I am not giving it all away here).

As it turned out, my book’s Cuban segment reads like something out of today’s news!

So then the book was sent to an other editor, who I believe was in Texas, for continuity in punctuation and those things we were supposed to learn in high school English, but didn’t.

Eventually, I received the manuscript back with a gazillion corrections. So much for high school English. I had to reply line item by line item. The editor questioned my use of commas, quotes, and other punctuations. I had to note if I agreed or not and, if not, what I wanted done. My reply filled 20 single lined pages! But, some of that was for mistakes I found and that they somehow screwed up from my copy. For instance, the word “lightning” was italicized throughout the book. Why? I did not send my copy in that way. Also, all Spanish was in italics in my copy, but not in what was sent back to me. Some Spanish was, some wasn’t. I italicized all the Spanish, again.

I did spelled the Bahamian beer Kalik wrong (Kalick), but sent in the correction. In the first half of the book it is spelled wrong and then it's correct in the last half. Go figure! The list goes on, but you get the point.

So, you can image my surprise as I read my author’s copy and found about half my corrections were not made!

In reading other books, especially from the big NY publishers, I am often surprised to find mistakes, but I do find them. I have had good sales in Key West and even my good friend Dick Wagner, once my editor at the KW Citizen, called to say he enjoyed the book. When I asked him about the mistakes that bothered me, he said he didn’t notice. I guess that’s a good thing, but how do the error make it in after two editors and then my own corrections?

Oh yeah, the best one. I misspelled Ronald Reagan (Regan) and no one caught it, so, when speaking at libraries I always get a laugh when I say it is obvious that the editors were Democrats, because no Republic would misspell his name!

What kind of mistakes have you found in your readings?


Clair Dickson said...

Oh my-- I shouldn't have read that! I'm sure I've read over a few mispellings, but most of them don't lodge in my brain.

Unless it's a story of mine... then every erroneous you're instead of your (I *KNOW* the difference!) stands out like it's in 28 point neon green.

Nice of them to fix all the errors they were supposed to... =P

Patti said...

I'm so glad you posted that! The errors you brought up were some of the first things that bothered me when first reading the book. But after I was so absorbed in the story it didn't bother me at all.
I couldn't put the book down!!

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