September 1 – 7: “Do you fling a book aside when you spot an error or stop reading after spotting some inaccuracy in technology or place?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5Authors cringe at mistakes in their novels. This week ITW Members Joan Hall Hovey, Ethan Cross and Jon McGoran will discuss whether or not they fling a book aside when they spot an error or if they stop reading after spotting some inaccuracy in technology or place?



SONY DSCIn addition to her critically acclaimed novels, Joan Hall Hovey’s articles and short stories have appeared in such diverse publications as The Toronto Star, Atlantic Advocate, Seek, Home Life Magazine, Mystery Scene, The New Brunswick Reader, Fredericton Gleaner, New Freeman and Kings County Record. Her short story Dark Reunion was selected for the anthology investigating Women, Published by Simon & Pierre. Ms. Hovey has held workshops and given talks at various schools and libraries in her area, including New Brunswick Community College, and taught a course in creative writing at the University of New Brunswick. For a number of years, she has been a tutor with Winghill School, a distance education school in Ottawa for aspiring writers. She is a member of the Writer’s Federation of New Brunswick, past regional Vice-President of Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

Deadout by Jon McGoranJon McGoran is author of Drift, a critically acclaimed thriller about biotechnology and genetically engineered foods, and its newly released sequel, Deadout, which expands on those themes and also looks at the mysterious disappearance of honeybee populations worldwide. Writing as D. H. Dublin, he is also the author of the forensic thrillers Body Trace, Blood Poison and Freezer Burn. He is currently working on the follow-up to Deadout, due out in 2015.

Father of Fear by Ethan CrossEthan Cross is the international bestselling and award-winning author of THE SHEPHERD, THE CAGE, CALLSIGN: KNIGHT, BLIND JUSTICE, and THE PROPHET—a novel described by bestselling author Jon Land as “The best book of its kind since Thomas Harris retired Hannibal Lecter,” while #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner said, “The surprises are fast and furious and will leave you breathless to read more.” His latest book in the Shepherd series, FATHER OF FEAR, is in the stores.


  1. No, I wouldn’t fling it aside because of an error, especially if it’s a good story. Misspellings and typos and inconsistencies can be jarring, admittedly, and I would cringe for the author’s sake if I found very many. As I cringe when I find my own, and am thankful to the powers that be if I catch them before they go ‘live’.

    The biggest offenders of errors are not necessarily self-published authors, either. I just finished reading an excellent novel from a very successful author in which I found a dozen typos. It didn’t bother me personally (probably because I know how easily those little gremlins can manage to slip through) but it does put off a lot of readers and makes the author look amateurish,and worse, disrespectful of his/her reader. Which is almost never the case. We love our readers.

    I wrote my first two novels, ‘Listen to the Shadows’ and ‘Nowhere To Hide’, on an Olivetti typewriter. So I was always reading the hard copy as I went and so was able to spot and fix errors quickly. Composing or editing on a computer is much different. Words you read on the screen may not even be there. But they are in your head so your brain accommodates you and you see them. And you see them spelled correctly, too. But your reader hasn’t read that same story over and over again the way you have, and the mistakes parade before her/his eyes. I learned the hard way the truth of that and am now almost paranoid about errors showing up in my novel. Since I read many books on my Kindle, (these eyes aren’t what they used to be and I can make the font as large as I need it to be) I also read my own books that way. Before they’re published. I upload my manuscript in Word and those errors just jump right out at me, (most of them anyway) just as they do when I’m reading someone else’s book. It might work for you.

  2. Unless there is a critical error with some central aspect of the book., I’m usually willing to give an author more than one chance, so I won’t bail after one mistake. But if there’s more than one error, even small, the effects can be cumulative, with each subsequent error making the previous ones seem that much worse. A series of relatively insignificant mistakes can be as bad as one huge flaw, adding up to a loss of trust in the reader/author relationship. Then I find myself subconsciously questioning everything instead of allowing myself to become immersed in the book. That can kill the experience enough, create enough distance between me and the book, that I give up on a book entirely.

  3. More and more we see typos and errors in novels from authors we least expect. Publishers today have so downsized to cut cost that editors are hard pressed to get the books out in the market. As for the old “Fact Checker,” forget it. They are long gone. More and more of the tasks are placed on the author’s shoulders. We just have to accept it.

  4. I absolutely DO NOT fling the book aside. I think that errors and typos within modern novels have become par for the course, and while this does momentarily take a reader out of the story (and, of course, we should do everything in our power to avoid that), I feel it’s inevitable. In fact, I think that I’ve found errors in pretty much every book I’ve read in recent memory.

    I feel a big factor for this is not that authors and publishers care less now about the quality of their work, but that the method of copyediting has changed. For some reason, it seems that it’s harder to spot errors on a computer screen than on a printed page, and today, most copyeditors work from a digital version of the book. And we as authors rely heavily on these outside editors, since it is nearly impossible to spot the flaws within your own work.

    Still, some readers take great offense at finding errors within a book. With my first book, I received a couple of messages from readers regarding typos that verged on death threats. I was shocked at the level of anger over a few small errors. In fact, I replied very nicely to one and immediately received an apology. But I’ve also noticed that since the release of my first book, which was several years ago, I haven’t received any such messages regarding my subsequent work. Does this mean that my copyeditors have gotten better, or are readers becoming more accepting? It’s probably a bit of both, but still something to pause and consider. Also, with my last two books, my copyeditor printed the books, marked on them with pen, and scanned the pages. Was this digital-printed hybrid approach a factor? I think that it very well could have been. These are all questions that we as modern authors must consider as we move forward in the digital age.

  5. Advanced mia culpa for anyone tempted to fling two of my books. Factual errors crept into the writing when I was concentrating on something else. I misspelled the first name of a real person, Delores for Dolores, in Silverton Burning and I wrote the current name, Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, instead of the correct former name, Denver and Rio Grande Railway, in my historical novel, The Chinese Laundry. Wheeuuu. Thanks. I feel better. Confession is good for the soul.

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