E-Books: Who Edits Them?


I’m currently reading a great e-book on Kindle by an author called C.J. Box.

Three Weeks To Say Goodbye is a very well written story about a husband and wife who’ve adopted a baby girl, only to find out months down the line that the biological father didn’t sign the “release” papers.  The biological father is an 18 year old “bad-boy” son of a High Court Judge.

The Judge decides that he and his wife want to bring the baby up as their own daughter and, as his son never signed the papers, he feels that the law is on his side.  He gives the husband and wife 3 weeks to say goodbye to their “daughter.”  He offers to help them adopt another baby, even paying all the costs.  It’s the least he could do.

Now, there’s a lot more to the story than that and I have to say I can’t put it down.  BUT, there is something in the book that really bothers me.  Nothing to do with the writing, the story-line, the plots, the pacing: they are all spot on.  The thing that bothers me is the way some words in the book have been separated.

Now, before you say, “Ooh, he thinks he’s some big shot editor because he runs The Flash Fiction Offensive,” I DON’T.  I’m far from it, but I can spot a typo.

The first word that got split was ‘budget’, which became ‘bud get.’  Then ‘pleasure’ was split into ‘plea sure.’  The format for the e-book is ‘justified’ but surely that shouldn’t split words, should it?

I don’t know how e-publishing works.

I recently downloaded a program that converts a PDF file into Kindle format. I changed a few stories into the Kindle format and some of the characters (namely ‘ & “) weren’t recognised on a couple of them.  There’s probably a part of the program that you can edit the story before you upload it, but I don’t know how to do that yet.

What I’m asking is this.  If you get a book deal and it goes straight to e-book, who edits it before it goes for sale on Amazon and the likes?  Or, is it just pot luck that the transfer from .doc or PDF goes through swimmingly?

I understand that if you self publish, then the editing side of it is down to you…or is it?  I have seen typos in some self pub’d e-books.  I understand typos are only human and I’m guilty of them in my own writing (even in my posts) BUT they can be corrected.

Can typos be corrected once your book has been uploaded to Amazon to sell?

I know a typo in a 100,000 word story could slip through the net now and again BUT isn’t that an editors job to find them?

I’d love your thought on this as I’m really interested in finding out how the whole e-book/self publishing business works.  It may be something I’ll use in the not too distant future.

Check out these couple of links regarding typos.



I highly recommend Three Weeks To Say Goodbye.  I’ll certainly be buying his other books!

Comments, good or bad, are always welcome.




Filed under cj box, e-books, editing, self publishing, three weeks to say goodbye, typos

17 responses to “E-Books: Who Edits Them?

  1. Hi Dave, I'm no expert but from what I understand with kindle – I don't know about other formats, even once an ebook is available for sale it is editable. That's a useful thing at least but shouldn't replace a good editor.I for one appreciate your passion for editing with my own work on FFO.

  2. Thanks, Darren. I'm no expert, but simple mistakes should be picked up. I think it's sometimes a case of spell checker in word (which doesn't pick up a "wrong" word because it's spelt correctly) and get it pub'd to make some money. I just need to know more about it before I'd consider it.Thanks for your support!

  3. Good shout, Dave. I've heard the book you used as an example is very good, but, unfortunately, typos can slip through the net and can detract a tad from great writing.I can't answer your question as I'm at a similar stage to you regarding this e-book lark. I'm sure others with more experience will shed some light on the matter.Best,Col

  4. Your best bet is to give it to a fresh set of eyes. Not a quick reader who might skim it, either. There are pro copy-editors who offer their services to self-publishers, but try friends first. They'll tell you if your book has a big smelly turd in the middle, too. At least I would. And I'd expect the same in return.

  5. Ben

    That's a good question. I saw the same problem in Donald Maass's last writing-advice book. (on iBooks) Split up word. I can only think it's an autocorrect software that didn't do the work

  6. For Pulp Ink (which as far as I can tell has no or very few typos) Steve did the formatting and did a superb job. The file we uploaded to Amazon was a MS Word file essentially stripped of all formatting–no margins, single spaced, page breaks between stories, paragraph indents at .5 (I think). Amazon has a guide to all of this and you can see how it looks before you upload, which is great. Also, you can re-upload the file whenever you want, but it takes about 48 hours before it's up on the site. (Smashwords is instantaneous, which is great.) We had an error and uploaded a new version because of that. I have noticed the splitting word things and other formatting problems in a lot of documents, and a lot of sloppy proofreading. (On Pulp Ink, we had four readers. My wife and I are also professional proofreaders so that helped.) The problem every document on the Kindle seems to have is that the first paragraph on a new page doesn't indent. I don't know how to fix that one.

  7. That would drive me mad. I think it's not just ebooks that can have bad mistakes in them, although I do find that some ebooks can be littered with mistakes. It drove me mad recently when I read a Stuart MacBride book last year and someone had changed the place name Methil to Methyl. They also kept saying 'sat here' as though they'd changed it from 'sitting there,' which is just a phrase that we Scots don't use. Just niggly things, but they annoyed me. Also made me wonder if publishers are doing proof reading on the cheap.

  8. Thanks for your comments, guys. I understand that e-publishing seems to be the way forward at the moment. It just annoys the hell out of me when this kind of thing happens. Chris, thanks for your input and sharing your recent experience. Appreciate it.

  9. What's strange about the example you've used, is that it's not a self published title. It's from a good publisher as well, so it's surprising they are not more aware of editing problems.I think if it's self published, I'm a lot more forgiving of things like that. However, if it's littered will spelling mistakes, that'll put me off.

  10. yep, that was my main point, Luca. It's not good that a well paid editor has missed them before it's been uploaded UNLESS it's something in the change-over from .doc or PDF to Kindle format. Then though, it should have been checked again.Thanks for stopping by, buddy.

  11. Dave,The problem may be that the book had sloppy formatting rather than sloppy editing. If you convert a PDF directly to an eBook format, you will get very lousy results. This is because the PDF format has fixed fonts, fixed page numbers, but eBooks have nothing of the sort (reflowable text, adjustable font sizes, etc.)You have to channel your inner nerd a bit here. But, the file used for the Kindle format (AZW) is based on XHTML, which is how web browser's read webpages. Therefore, to get a 100% clean eBook conversion, you need to encode your manuscript into XHTML and then convert it with Calibre or some other options.For my friends in the writing community, I made some tutorials on the subject. If it's too technical, just slip your manuscript over to me and ask nicely–don't worry, I don't have herpes or nothing. I can get it into an eBook format for Kindle, NOOK, whatever in under an hour or so. I owe Dave one for publishing one of my flash pieces at TTFO anyway.

  12. Thanks, Paul. Thanks also for the offer of help with formatting. I'll hold you to that!

  13. Typos will always be there. Last year a proper published book I read had two errors. One was a huge error, it got the main character's name completely wrong.I followed a guide to convert my book to kindle format. It took hours to strip out everything and check for double spaces, double paragraphs etc. I wish I'd seen Paul's offer of help a few weeks back! I'm giving it the fourth read through now and I'm still finding one or two mistakes. Most mistakes seem to come from Word autocorrecting things it shouldn't. Next book I write, I'm turning it off.I think (or I'm hoping) that people will overlook one or two errors on a selfpublished book for 86p.

  14. Good luck charlie. I'm with you on the MS Word auto-correct. What some writers forget (me included) is that it will only highlight an incorrect spelling but NOT a word that is wrong: i.e. to-too-two etc.Thanks for stopping by.

  15. Hey, Paul.Brilliantly informative stuff on yer blog, fella. Thanks for taking the time to share all that.Best,Col

  16. Sorry, should of pointed out I was just agreeing with your main point!It's a shame there isn't an easier way of converting than is the case at the moment (and I'd echo the thanks to Paul, great information sir)I wonder if the gaining popularity of self-publishing, will mean a more universal, and easier, converter will be made.

  17. I'm getting ready to upload my sixth ebook on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I don't care what I do I can't get everything perfect. The upload monster seems to have a mind of it's own. I wish you all the best. I think if readers end up switching to ereaders only they will overlook some of this. We will probably be the ones going mad trying to get things straight.Jeanette Cheezum

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