pencilThey can be of the hysterically funny variety or they can drive you nuts.  Yep, I’m talking about copyediting errors.

Poor Susan Andersen.  Earlier this year in the pages of her reprinted book Baby, I’m Yours, there was this doozy:

“He stiffened for a moment but then she felt his muscles loosen as he shitted on the ground.”

Ummm, that’s supposed to be shifted.

The author handled it very well, posting on Facebook and everywhere she could to reach out to readers and let them know about this unintentional error.  But, honestly, I had a good laugh – and, hopefully, the author did too.  Eventually.

More common are the sloppy errors that let you know that a book wasn’t copyedited at all or, on the other hand, was copyedited by an idiot.  Either way, it’s irritating as hell.

A few years ago I reviewed a book that was first in a trilogy and released by a major publisher.  And I mean major. Consistently throughout the book – like on every, single page – the author made a pronoun error.  It was as if she were choosing them randomly and every single time – every single time – she picked the wrong one.  It almost became a game to see what she would do next.  And, heck, as time went on I’ll admit I kind of started to enjoy it.

Still, there’s no getting around the fact that I am entirely yanked out of a story when problems are egregious, like oh, for example, when sentence structure is mangled and homonyms are wrong.  And then there is the pronoun problem, too.

But, the worst, my god, the worst is the you’re-your-its-it’s challenge.  Mess that up and it’s all over.  I have to throw the book right up against the wall – which is kind of impossible with an eBook, but I think you get the point.

With rumors that more and more publishing houses are cutting back on copyediting and with the proliferation of self-publishing, I am afraid that this problem is going to get even worse than it is already.  The day is coming when we’re all going to have to develop a sense of humor about it or be prepared to be driven crazy.

So, where do you stand on this issue?  Can you overlook major mistakes or are they like fingernails on a chalk board?  (And, while I’m on the subject, what constitutes a “major” error to you?)  A few you’res for yours or does it take more than that? And why not share some of your favorite funny  copyediting booboos?  It’s a Friday in the waning days of summer and I’m certain we could all use a laugh.

– Sandy AAR