By Jack Engelhard
Don’t know about you but as for me, I always catch my typos when it’s too late, like when I’ve already sent something out, or even after I’ve had it published — all that even after I’ve done the re-writing and re-reading a hundred times. I don’t let anything go until it’s perfect. But it’s never perfect!
Typos happen, usually overnight when you’re not watching.
Though it’s already available on Kindle, I’m having a new novel published in paperback (“The Girls of Cincinnati,”) and in fact it already IS published though it won’t be up on Amazon until a couple of weeks. Before I gave it the okay, I had the proof copy for proofreading and found no mistakes, which makes my point, once again, that I’m a lousy proofreader – as are most novelists.
So it’s already gone to press and now, reading it again, just for pleasure, I found five typos and for sure there must be more. Well, I don’t care. The quality of the writing is what counts. I’ve been through too much to worry about every single typo. I accept typos as a fact of writing, even a fact of life. Life isn’t perfect. Writing isn’t perfect.
My problem is that, during the proofreading, I fell in love with the story. That’s a mistake. Professional proofreaders read from the bottom up. I can’t do this.
I fell in love (written originally in my youth) with lines that ran like this: “She had a life. I had nothing but dreams.”
Also, “I’m as ethical as the next man,” says the salesman. “That’s what’s starting to worry me,” says Eli, the hero.
The Torah — Moses’ Five Books from Mount Sinai — was written in Hebrew some 3,000 years ago, without a flaw. There are thousands of Torah scrolls throughout the world, all of them true to the original, to the letter, even to the spacing between the letters. If even a single typo appears, that scroll becomes un-kosher and unfit.
Well, the rest of us are not God.
God does not use spell-check.
I did not receive “The Girls of Cincinnati” from Mount Sinai, but it is a work of inspiration as every novel must be.
When I first started out as a novelist, I imagined New York editors and publishers to be deities. I don’t think so anymore.
That’s why – even though I had a novel that sold millions around the world, and was even made into a movie – I turned to print on demand for my latest works. That gave me complete control. I became my own publisher. All the credit is mine and so is all the blame. But that still beats the sloth, the incompetence, the snobbery, the stupidity and the arrogance that novelists encounter when they are not part of the crowd that gathers at Elaine’s.
I used an Amazon subsidiary for the publishing of “The Girls of Cincinnati” and it was a pleasure to get it all done my way. There were no editors to guard the gates against my political incorrectness, or to judge the writing too long, too short, too descriptive, not descriptive enough, and whatever else they invent to cause the novelist to stumble and fall.
I am pleased with Amazon’s publisher for “The Girls of Cincinnati” just as I’ve been pleased with iUniverse for “The Bathsheba Deadline.”
Finally, I trust myself. I used to believe that the grandees – those who followed Maxwell Perkins but never lived up to him – were superior, had all the answers and always knew best. I do not believe that anymore. Not at all! I have seen their handiwork and am not impressed. I don’t trust those guys and I have no faith in them.
At last, at this stage of my life, I believe that I know best. Yes, it’s a risk going out on your own. But a novel is always a risk, always a gamble. I prefer to do the wagering on my own, just as I play the horses. I prefer to win or lose on my own skills. Walt Whitman published his own works, and he did all right. We remember him as surely as we’ll forget New York’s latest Genius of the Month.
True – had I gone the traditional route I may have encountered fewer typos. But for me, it’s all about content. So I’ll live with the typos.
My guess is that “The Girls of Cincinnati” would have had difficulties finding a publisher in New York – many of whom, by the way, are downsizing or going out of business. (Poetic justice?) “Indecent Proposal” was turned down by 35 publishers before it became a Big Book and a Big Movie, even nominated for a National Book Award. (Rob Huberman at Comteq finally did it justice.)
I do not feel like going through all that again, through 35 publishers, for “The Girls of Cincinnati.”
I finally realize and conclude that on writing I am right and they are wrong.
In this environment, even Moses could not get the Torah published.
Novelist Jack Engelhard, author of “Indecent Proposal” and more recently “The Bathsheba Deadline,” can be reached at www.jackengelhard.com.