Typos happen in any book. But I was delighted to get an email from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), pointing out that they had found three typos in one of my books.
We’re writing to let you know that readers have reported a problem in your book.
There are some words in your book that our spell check dictionary could not identify. If any of the words are not spelled the way you intended, please update your content and resubmit it to us.
You can also email us at [email protected] to let us know that the words are spelled correctly. Here are the words and their locations:
Kindle Location: 6866 ; Description: “there where times when” should be “there were times when”
Kindle Location: 7298 ; Description: “heart is was called” should be “heart it was called”
Kindle Location: 6967 ; Description: “thorn is the side” should be “thorn in the side”
After you’ve made the correction, please upload your revised content through the ‘Book Content’ section in your KDP Bookshelf. If you have further questions, please reply directly to this email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
For further information regarding specific book errors (including why some errors are more critical than others), please see the Guide to Kindle Content Quality Errors at https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=200952510.
Thanks for using Amazon KDP!
Any means to rid typos in Kindle ebooks is a good thing
I was a bit surprised, though. This particular book has been published for quite some time.
But I was somewhat relieved as well because this book is nearly 170,000 words long. So three typos are not so bad in a book that long. Even though I had worked extremely hard to make sure it was perfect and free of typos.
But for KDP to let me know means that they are getting very serious about improving the quality of Kindle ebooks in general.
It was interesting to note in its email, though, that it states that readers had reported the errors.
I’m not sure how this works, as killing typos in any way is good news, but why rely on readers?
For some time, KDP has had a spell checker that analyses any new manuscript that is uploaded to KDP and notifies of any possible spelling errors or typos before publication.
But to add contextual correction would be a big plus, and it is something that other online publishers should consider adding.
Is there a better way to catch typos in ebooks?
The only point that I wonder about is why Amazon relies on reader notifications to find these contextual typos on KDP?
An online proofreading program such as Grammarly does a very good job of finding contextual typos. So why doesn’t KDP use something similar to scan newly uploaded manuscripts and find these typos before they get published?
Anything that helps eradicate typos in self-published books is a good thing.
But I genuinely hope that KDP and other online publishers can find a way to do this before publication, and not rely on readers to notify them of typos they find.
For hardworking self-published authors, there is hope. It’s only a typo!
You are not alone in trying to perfect your ebook manuscript.
Perhaps, you are working even harder and making a better fist of it than some of the big publishers at removing every single typo.
While reading two separate posts on Forbes and The Verge regarding the annoyance of typos in ebooks, it was reassuring in some respects to note that the brunt of the complaints was directed at large publishers.
However, as I read the long list of comments on these posts, a few new pieces of information caught my attention.
However, there was one very important consideration that was missing.
The new information I found interesting was in one comment. I quote:
GAP ebooks: an explanation for why they are so shoddy.
I’ve just learned that the production AND PROOFREADING for Bantam/Spectra ebooks is done…in India. By people who barely speak English. (Apparently, this applies to every ebook published by the conglomerate, which includes Bantam.)
If this is true, it says a lot about how quality control in publishing is being outsourced to the cheapest contractor.
Another practice being used to convert backlisted manuscripts to electronic files is by using OCR. (Optical Character Recognition).
Anyone who has had any experience with OCR will know it is a process that is far from perfect. A quote from the Forbes article:
Unacceptable or not, that’s what someone has done. Simply OCR’d the printed text and not subbed *sic (sub-edited) it through again.
I shudder to think what the result would be, as my experience with OCR has been that the result always contains character errors on every single page.
Poor quality control
While these two areas gained a mention, along with the obvious blame on poor editing, sub-editing, and proofreading, the one missing reason for ebook errors is the process itself.
No matter in what form a final text is prepared, be it HTML, doc, RTF, pdf, epub, or any number of other file formats, it will then be converted yet again into the file used by each ebook distributor or retailer.
As Kindle, Apple, and Smashwords and all the other platforms use a wide variety of e-publishing formats, even the most perfect text needs to be ‘crunched,’ ‘auto vetted,’ or ‘converted’ to this new file type.
In other words, the words of the text are converted into ones and zeros, and then back again into text. And rarely perfectly.
This differs entirely from the technique used in a printed book, where all text is reproduced using photographic processes and therefore reproduced exactly as intended.
From my own experience, when I have download copies of one of my ebooks from different sources, they are never exactly the same.
The most common problems are changes in formatting, removal of italicized text, removal, replacement or misinterpretation of accented characters, and random changes to fonts and paragraph styles.
Quite honestly, some conversions are good, while some I could only call a dog’s breakfast. It also makes a huge difference if a file has been prepared using Apple programs or Microsoft programs.
Some ebook conversions programs may not work with Apple word processing programs, or if they do, they can still add code and spaces (sometimes seen as Apple Space in code) that can change formatting styles.
So the grand ebook typo debate will continue, I am sure.
But it is worth noting that many of the complaints against sloppy authors, poor proofreading, or lousy formatting could, and perhaps should really be aimed at the ebook process itself, and not necessarily towards those authors who work hard in the preparation of their ebook texts.
E & OE