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The Musings of James Paddock
I Hate Typos!

Posted March 23, 2019

For those who have published in excess of, just to select a number, 3 books, have you ever gone back and read the first one in search of grammatical errors? How about after 6 books, or 10? When I finished my 12th title a few years back, put it to bed you might say, I felt a restlessness; not ready to start another but needing to do something in my craft to stay busy. So I dug up the master file for my very first novel. There was no doubt in my mind that I’d find typos; can’t seem to escape them. Yikes! After that book I went to the next one and then the next one. Over two months I cleaned up every one of my books, sending updated files to Amazon, Smashwords, CreateSpace and Barnes & Noble. In the process I developed a system that I thought might be worth sharing.

My process involves a spreadsheet, though it could certainly be done in whatever way is comfortable and effective; three ring binder, note cards, sticky notes, whatever. The sample below is hard to read so click on it to view a readable version. What you’re seeing is my titles across the top with common errors I’m looking for down the left side, total errors found down the right.

For example, the seventh line item is bare vs. bear. Yes, I know the difference but somehow or other in the writing and editing process, a few improper uses have snuck through. To check for them I searched for every instance of both words in the document to ensure it was used correctly. I then made note of the number of misuses I found for each title and the total off to the right. A check mark means that there were no errors found in the book. For this example there were a total of 5 errors made over 4 titles. Not too bad. The more errors I found, though, the more obsessed I got with it all until my list of common errors got rather long.

See full list >>> HERE.

Obsessed! When I finished “Saving Ebony” end of last year, my 17th title, you’d think my first draft error rate would be dropping. It did a little, but then I discovered in the normal proofing process that I’d used breathe and breath improperly 3 times. Yikes! Guess what? It got added to my list of common errors and I had to go back and search every one of the other 16 titles, 14 of which are full-length novels, to find any others. There were 6 more all told. Is it time consuming? You beat your sweet whatever. Am I obsessive enough to republish the other 6 titles to all the vendors just for one typo? Hmm.

I had a reader in my community catch me in our clubhouse a few weeks back to tell me she found an error in “Sailing into Death.” She used to teach English, she told me, now retired. I wanted to drop to my knees and beg forgiveness, start writing sentences on the chalk board about how I’ll be a better writer or that I should find some other profession. She couldn’t remember what page number and only that it had to do with a K stuck on the front of a word. Now neither of us can find it and it’s starting to drive me crazy.


Anyway, that’s how my mind works. I have become much more aware of these common errors even in my recreational reading and I see them no matter who the author is, bestselling traditional or unknown indie. Granted there are fewer in the big names, but they’re still there.

Is there something that perturbs you but you don’t see it on this list? Let me know and maybe I’ll add it then obsess over it in all of my titles.

The errors never seem to end.


Leave a comment

April 6, 2019 at 10:12 am
Maureen Turner from Gloucester, U.K. wrote...

You have no idea how reassuring it is to know that even you - after 17 published books - still find errors. I am almost through re-reading First Breath before I get it professionally formatted for Kindle. I removed it from sale two years ago when I cancelled my contract with Authorhouse. Hopefully it won't be long before it's back out there with corrections. I have no doubt that there are still some errors but they have evaded me. Good luck James with book #18.

April 18, 2019 at 7:55 am
Dusty Books wrote...

Thank you, Maureen, for your comment. Oh, yes, First Breath... a story that will leave you breathless. I have to say that there is something refreshing about returning to early works. It's amazing how much you find you've grown over the years, how much you've changed. I don't know about you, but for me I feel a tad embarassed knowing there are originals still out there on someone's shelf, the 1st editions. In the indie world 1st edition means "Needs a bit more editing." Good luck with your next release of First Breath.


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Who is
James Paddock?
James Paddock
James Paddock is author, novelist, playwright and stage actor, not to mention husband, father, proud grandfather and very proud great-grandfather of many beautiful and intelligent children. Still calling Montana his home, James spends his twilight years writing novels, short stories and plays, in between walking Florida beaches, playing pool and hanging out with his wonderful wife, Penny.


April 2021

>Resources for Writers

March 2021

>Sloth Shifter

February 2021

>Angels of Maureen Turner

November 2020

>Angels & Mortals

>Monti Gets Shot

July 2020


>First Breath

January 2020

>The Puzzle

March 2019

>I Hate Typos

September 2018

>Saving Ebony: Page-Turner

August 2018

>Smilodon - The Trilogy

>Cool Characters in Butte

>Resources for Writers

>Characters & Timelines

>Itchy Fingers

>The Montauk Monster?

>Who is Dusty Books?