Of Helpful Readers and Typos

My latest eBook, The Serpent’s Egg, was published in March of this year.

This morning, Amazon.com sent me an email, listing about 20 typos received from readers. When I checked the typos, I discovered that all of my mdashes — like these — had been removed from the document. So, where I had written, for example:

He sat at the same table—alone this time—and Anna took his order.

What the reader saw was:

He sat at the same tablealone this timeand Anna took his order.

Not a pretty sight!

Going through the manuscript from top to bottom, I discovered dozens of these missing mdashes. I replaced them all with ndashes – like these – and republished the book. I can only apologize to everyone who has struggled through the book already, and express a huge thank you to the reader (or readers) who alerted Amazon to the problem.

Here’s how the problem arose: While Karen Perkins was converting the book to PDF for paperback in CreateSpace, we discussed the pros and cons of using mdashes. Karen pointed out – quite accurately – that mdashes without spaces are preferred in US books, whereas UK books tend to use ndashes with spaces. I decided, since the book was written in US English, to go with mdashes without spaces. I set up an autocorrect in MS-Word to change three consecutive dashes to an mdash. This appeared to work, but unfortunately, whatever MS-Word produced for my three dashes, was not recognized by Calibre as an mdash. I use Calibre to convert from MS-Word to the kindle format .mobi.

Karen Perkins, by the way, has been indispensable to me in converting all my eBooks to paperbacks.

As a general comment, I would encourage readers to provide feedback. I cannot speak for all authors, but speaking for myself, I would encourage my readers to let me know if they find anything wrong in any of my books. Feedback like this is vital, as it enables me to correct my mistakes. I can be reached by email through the Contact tab in my website.