1. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Do publishers correct authors' research flaws in manuscripts?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Tea@3, Feb 17, 2016.

    First, let me say that I'm not a nit-picker, but...

    I'm currently reading a commercial novel with so many inaccuracies that it's affecting my suspension of disbelief. This novel is not self-published; it's in hardback from a big six imprint. (I'm NOT talking about SPAG but rather technical and anachronistic issues. Such as: 'The year was 1958. Free Bird blared from the radio speakers."

    I expect these issues from a self-pub book (no offense to anyone) but not from a book released by a big six publisher.

    So, this got me wondering about the person at the publisher who first received the submission, and the others they passed it to, and then the editor they assigned to it. (assuming they still do this? I dunno) I got to thinking about all the eyes who read this book but didn't catch the fairly glaring things I'm noticing.

    So, I ask the question: have you ever known the publisher/editor to challenge inaccuracies in books prior to publishing?

    Because 1--this one must have slipped through somehow, or 2--my assumption is wrong to begin with, and pubs do NOT inspect or fact check authors' submissions.


    PS ...not referring to beta's here. That's on the author's end, and prior to submission.
     
  2. NobodySpecial
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    NobodySpecial Active Member

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    Your book either managed to cover the entire process of publication without even once being seen by a Skynyrd fan or there's a strange time warp story twist later on. It is, however, a good cautionary tale of how important it is to be accurate in your writing. I already knew when Freebird was released, but a quick google fu exercise came up with 10 links that list the recording date as April of 1973 and a release date in 1974.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I doubt that any publishers put the time or money into researching this sort of thing before publication. If someone who knows happens to spot it, fine, but I doubt they go looking for it.
     
  4. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    I assume an editor will flag it if they notice it, but I doubt even the big publishers have the budget to employ someone to go through and fact check every manuscript in its entirety.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Publishers generally have editors that are familiar with, if not specialize in, a certain type of fiction...fantasy, historical, romance, etc. And they make lists and check, but like everything...no novel is going to be perfect (or the odds of it are very, very slim).
     
  6. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the replies.

    So, I wonder what would happen after the fact, then, if a publisher discovers these mistakes in a work they put into print last year. Could it turn them off to that writer for future works?

    My guess is that depends on the money & sales of that work.

    In any case, for me this is a cautionary tale to go the extra step with due diligence to make sure mine are well researched. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying the research outweighs the story value. But I do think the inaccuracies somewhat tarnish an otherwise well put together book. :meh:
     
  7. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    Perhaps. If it is really glaring and a lot of people pick up on it, they might correct it for future editions.

    Personally, I tend to ask friends with specialist knowledge to fact-check my work. For example, if one of my characters is talking about computer systems, I expect one of my (software engineer) housemates will correct any omissions or factual errors.
     
  8. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Me too, especially now after seeing how this looks. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving this book. I really am. But I don't want to look amateurish.

    Elmore Leonard is one of my faves and he was known for his research reputation. Of course, it didn't hurt to have enough money to hire a full time PI as his personal research assistant. :)
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've had editors, even at small publishers, checking my details. I mentioned a make of motorcycle in one book and they had a motorcycle expert confirm that it looked the way I described it. And with the same publisher, I think, they have a gun expert who reads anything that has guns mentioned. But that same publisher missed it when I called a ferret a rodent.

    Publishers try, but... there are so many ways for authors to screw up, they apparently can't catch every one of them!
     
  10. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    An editor may not see everything. Where there is heavy reliance on technical facts, for example, in a book about WWII, a fact checker would likely be used to ensure everything was correct.

    For the average thriller, I doubt an editor will even get into muzzle velocity of a pistol, or some such, if it is referred to.

    Personally, I WOULD check that. And more besides. God is, they say, in the details. And so is good writing.
     

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