Are publishers cheap?
The miserliness may show up between covers, too. In a review headlined “The lost art of the editor,” Crime Scraps discusses a novel whose ludicrous errors include this discussion of a super-light handgun:
"For you I'd recommend a Walther TPH. It's a seven round weapon, .25 calibre, remarkably accurate for up to 100 yards and light as a feather at three kilograms."As Mr. Scraps points out, 6.6 pounds is pretty damned heavy for a handgun. Unlike the copy editor that the publisher apparently failed to pay for, Scraps did his research and found that the Walther TPH weighs 325 grams, not three kilograms.
In my own recent reading, I’ve run into an official briefing about an impending visit of political dignitaries that includes this on one page:
“ … in exactly twenty-seven days’ time, Air Force One, with the American President on board, will be landing at Gardemoen Airport, Oslo”and this on the next:
“I don’t need to tell you how short a time two months is, but it means what we’re going to need daily coordination meetings … ."Elsewhere, I’ve run across a book that confused want and wont and a memorable volume that spelled one character’s name three ways in three consecutive uses on two consecutive pages.
I raise these examples because it’s my understanding that publishers often farm out their copy editing to free-lancers. If that’s the case, one can understand the benefit to publishers: They avoid the necessity of having to pay health and other benefits. But I expect that such a practice would also eliminate copy editors’ chances of feeling that they have a stake in a book’s success.
I invite readers to submit their own examples of such errors. Perhaps we can shame publishers into taking steps to eliminate them. I especially welcome comments from anyone in publishing, whether they are victims of such practices, perpetrators, or merely knowledgeable observers.
© Peter Rozovsky 2007