I’m going to add a third certainty to death and taxes.
The last book I finished, The Associate by John Grisham, had a typo.
One of my favourite books of all time has a typo. (Sorry, Danielle.)
That crappy blog that I still read because I love what the writer is saying, that she is doing her best, for her, for now, has a typo.
That professional polished temple of entrepreneurial wonder-content, cleverly disguised as a simple website, has a typo.
That thrice-edited blow-the-budget professionally-published-in-print bestseller has a typo.
That on-a-shoestring first-time-attempt self-pub opt-in ebook has a typo.
That did-you-know-it’s-free-to-publish-on-Kindle 3000-word erotic fiction definitely has a typo. (Probably right in the middle of a really raunchy bit. Offputting much?)
That tabloid has a typo.
That broadsheet has a typo.
This website has a typo.
(“Not a good look for an editor?”)
Guess what. Everyone makes typos. The amateurs, the pros, the seasoned authors, the first-time writers, editors, marketers, me.
In editing others’ attempts at beautiful expression, we have a choice. We can choose kindness or cruelty. Humour or spite. Warmth or harshness.
I choose to help people keep writing. Not let my red biro run amok over their heartfelt outpourings.
Yes, enhance it, but…
I believe in kindness.
I believe in gentle.
I believe in humour.
Let’s drown them out with love.
If you want to point out mistakes in others’ writing, because you want to be helpful, because you know they’re trying the best they can, because you know they’d appreciate the correction (keyword ‘know’), here’s three things you can do to soften the blow.
Soften the blow in delivering bad news…
1. Start the email with what is working in the writer’s piece. What did you like? What should they do more of? How can you encourage them to keep writing, growing, improving?
2. Use gentle language that says “oh hey, by the way, it’s ‘their’ instead of ‘there’ in the third paragraph”. An ugh-don’t-you-know-anything tone is not cool.
3. Be very specific as to the mistake you’re correcting and where it is in the text, so they can go in and correct it. After all, you’re doing this to help them out. Not feel superior. Right?
Don’t be an asshat
(Good word, huh?)
If you don’t have something nice to say, if you won’t assist the writer gently, and if you are doing it because my-grammar’s-better-than-your-grammar, don’t send the email. Instead, do this very simple thing.
Get. A. Life.
It’s just a typo.
As a copywriter (who edits on occasion too) I’m in that group of people that’s probably going to notice a typo more than the general population. Sometimes they’re offputting, and sometimes they make things look unprofessional – but can I tell you a secret? Sometimes when I spot a typo it just makes me realise that the person on the other side of that page, or computer screen, is a real life human. And I sort of love them for it.
I love that viewpoint!
I want to make clear as well that I don’t mean everyone should be posting total rubbish riddled with errors. I’m simply backing the people out there who are brave enough to have something to say, expressing their messages, and then being told they’re wrong about something in an undermining and unkind way.
Super important to be professional. Super important to do the very best job you can. Super important to hire an editor for things being published.
But also… people do not have enough going on in their own lives if they let one or two typos impact them so much that they have to be nasty about it, right? All I’m asking is that people have some perspective!
Omg. Yes. So much yes! Build a bridge, people! Get a life! I am all for kindness and not being a grammar asshat. I see my clients work so damn hard on their websites or eCourses only to have some negative nancy email them directly on launch day to “help” with a typo, somewhere , on the 17 A4 page sales page they had lovingly, painstakingly written, designed and developed. Just stop. Remember a real human did that work. It means something. A typo is such a small, human mistake. I’ve seen some people get completely nasty in online groups about it. It’s just not cool. Focus on your own shiz, damn it! Love your professional opinion Kris!
Haha. Love this blog! I think that I might be the woman with the crappy blog and all the typo’s (and I embrace it)! My mother is always calling me with my latest mistake.
And I’ve just learn to embrace it! It’s me in all my imperfections!
So thanks for this blog beauty. It’s gorgeous
PS. I hired a biz manager and now she is proofing all my work – so expect less typo’s xxx