Let’s Talk About Typos

Here’s the thing about me and typos.

I don’t see typos, at least not in my own work. I know a good editor should, but I don’t see them and I no longer care. At least not here on this blog. Do I care when I submit my stories to lit journals or my books to publishers? Sort of. Not really. It’s complicated.

We’re talking fiction here. I redraft and rewrite my stories so much that any typos or grammar errors or spelling issues are just going to go through one eyeball and never come out the other. The chances of me catching all my typos before I submit to a journal or a publisher are super thin. Should someone catch them before they hit the print button and make a boat-load of copies to sell or be read by the masses? Probably. But that button is so far away from the submit button that it doesn’t really matter. At least, in theory.

When I write a story for my blog, understand that there’s a good chance that story is only ever going to be for my blog.

Once something is published to my blog, it counts as previously published and no literary mags or publishers are going to be interested, unless they specifically want to reprint it. I’m also writing stuff for literary magazines and collections and other things while I’m working my stories for the blog. If I do try to catch some typos throughout the week, it’ll probably be for those other things and not the stories for my blog. If I even do that, because like I said, I don’t really catch them very fast, if at all. Writers write. Editors edit. There are only so many hours in a day. Yadda-yadda-yadda.

So, you’ll see typos throughout my blog and in my stories.

I catch typos over time, eventually, maybe. I understand that some people have a problem with this and that’s fine, but typos are not what I’m interested in fixing when I’m working on my stories. Character development, structure, setting, and context are what I focus on. Typos, spelling, and grammar are the last thing I worry about. Editors, or pretty much anyone other than the writer, will see typos and fix them immediately. It will be fine.

I’m not suggesting that I don’t do a read-through to hunt for typos before submitting or posting, but If I worry too much about typos I won’t ever get anything done or submitted to literary magazines or posted to my blog. It also goes without saying that I don’t really care about typos when I read submissions for Likely Red Magazine, either. I get it; you were focused on the right things. Very good.

So, you know, just FYI. I’ll just leave this here. I’m sure there are all kinds of typos throughout my blog and in my stories. This blog is a creative space as much as it is a working, acting, living, breathing resume for me. It’s just not worth it to worry too much about the small stuff.

What is your typo-hunting process like?

Leave me a comment and let’s talk about typos. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much prefer the ability to see them quickly, but it usually takes about a month or so of letting the story sit, sometimes longer. Then I can read them back and see some of the typos. Definitely not all, though. I’ve submitted some stories for a year or so and only recently found typos in them. How embarrassing. Well, it would be if I still cared that much about typos.

Here’s a story I posted last week that might or might not have typos: Dialing For A Paycheck.

Also, here’s a kinda-sorta-recent rejection letter. This one is from F(r)iction.

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Author: Eric

Eric Shay Howard is a writer living in Louisville, KY. He has a BA in English from the University of Louisville. He is the editor of Likely Red, a literary magazine.

6 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Typos”

  1. Nothing is better than having a different pair of eyes (or many pairs) other than your own review the work, such as critique partners and beta readers. I swear by this, but I’ll admit that I fortunate to have the resource of my wife who has been a paid proofreader in the past. I can call upon her to review things almost anytime. But beyond her, I’ve got lots of critique partners in the form of other authors that I’m friends with.

    For self editing (and I self-edit a lot before I ever show a “1st draft” to anyone), I wait a few hours or a day (if I can afford the time) before I comb through a piece again. Commonly, I edit everything I wrote on a piece the last day I worked on it before commencing any new writing, but this does not work for many writers. For self-proofing, I’ve found that changing the font size and type can be a weirdly simple but effective tactic to bring out typos when you read through a finished piece.

    Just some things that work for me, but YMMV. 😉

    1. Thanks for sharing, Jason! That font trick is a good one. But yeah, I definitely can’t edit a piece before moving on. I usually have to move on to a new story for a month or so before I can go back and look and see issues in the previous story. And, I should probably definitely get some author friends who can be critique partners for my longer work.

  2. I was talking to my blog friend jay yesterday about this very same thing. I am horrible at grammar, typos, etc because I’m really a content girl. I fully realize when I finish my book I need to hire a copy editor before I send it out

    1. Same here. There’s no way I’d be able to do a typo-edit for my own book. There’s no way I’d be able to self-publish without paying an editor, either, if I decide to go the self-publishing route. Because of that, I’m hoping for a publisher or an agent first. I’m hoping a reputable publishing house will prioritize content and style over basic typos and grammar problems. Publishers have editors in-house, and they can promote my work better than I can anyway. Win/win.

  3. Thanks for this post!
    I have a great deal of trouble seeing my own typos as well (I suspect most people do). My process has changed over time. I make use of a lot of different readers as well as a simple grammar/spell check with MS Word (it’s amazing to me how much that will catch). Some people have eyes for this kind of thing and they catch so much. I put my writing through a LOT of scrutiny before I consider it finished, but I know there will always be more problems with it. I’m not expecting to write a perfect story. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing. Ah, yes, those red lines in Word do help a lot, at least for a first pass-through. Sometimes I use Word, other times I use Google Docs. Sometimes I use Scrivener. The red lines always seem to change. I guess they use different dictionaries. I could seriously benefit from more readers ahead of time, too.

Something to say?