The curse of copyediting, or, there will be probably be typos in my new book so I'm apologizing in advance
Now that my new anthology Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, is officially shipping from the printers to my door (and to bookstores everywhere very soon), it's time I confessed something that I dread but know to be an inevitable truth: there will be typos in this book. I mean, I could be wrong, and between my ace copyediting skills and my publisher's copyeditor, this could be one of the very few books that ever makes it to publication without typos. But I don't think it will be.
I realized this as I spent many hours revisiting the stories in the book to copyedit it. I wound up turning in 74 changes to my publisher, then thought, If I found 74 errors, there's got to be more. This is what keeps me up at night as an anthology editor. I already hate it when mistakes find their way into my writing, which is sometimes my fault for making errors, and sometimes means those inaccuracies have been introduced after the piece has left my computer/control. But either way, my name is going to be on the spine and cover of this book. As I learned in my intellectual property classes in law school, the individual stories may be copyrighted to the authors, but the book itself is my work, and my reputation is at stake.
So as much as I'm eagerly awaiting a giant box of books arriving at my home, I'm fearful. Because these are the kinds of things I asked my publisher to change:
change “Michoacan” to “Michoacán” (thank goodness for Google!)Were they mainly small changes? Mainly, yes, but some were big. Either way, I know that when I'm reading an ebook or print book and there's a typo, it pulls me out of the story. Sometimes I have to pause and think, Is this what they really meant? I even called out a typo when writing an otherwise positive piece about a food erotica story, because when I read the sentence "Suddenly I felt it envelope my cock" it definitely pulled me out of the story.
change “onto to each other” to “onto each other”
change “Holyhot guy” to “Holy-hot guy”
on one line, I changed "my hands" to "my hand," and two lines later, changed "my hand" to "my hands"
Sometimes, ignorance is bliss, and for me, knowing there were so many typos that I found gave me pause. Will I be considered a horrible editor writers don't want to work with if there's something there shouldn't be in their story? Or will writers understand that there are so many steps along the way of the publishing process that catching every single error in 65,000+ words is probably close to impossible?
I will certainly say that copyediting my book, one I'm so proud of and think is my very best work ever as an erotica anthology editor, one that I'm hoping goes on to be my bestselling anthology, gave me much more empathy for other authors and editors. I say this as someone who's seen my last name misspelled on the cover of an anthology I had a story published in, which, I won't lie, made me a little less inclined to promote it. But we are all human. It doesn't matter that I teach erotica writing classes or have been widely published or "should have caught it." The reality is: I'm not perfect (as you can probably tell by my poor Twitter screenshots embedded here). I make mistakes, just like everyone else, and I take responsibility for them, which is what I'm preemptively doing here.
Typos don't care that I was a full-time magazine editor for seven years and spent much of that time wielding a red pen and the copyediting marks I was taught at that job, or that this is my 61st anthology or that I believe in it so strongly and am counting the days until publication. It doesn't matter how many hours I hovered over those pages with my red pen, circling and underlining and noting questions and Googling. All that matters is the final product. In a day or two, that final book, in all its glossy, sexy, unchangeable glory, will be in my hands. I will be proud of it, and I hope the 22 other contributors who wrote amazing, daring, wonderful stories, will be too. But I apologize in advance for any typos you may find. I promise, I did my best, and I will continue to do so next time. Cliffhanger: stay tuned for my January announcement of a new call for submissions.