Make proofreading part of the process, not an afterthought!

I know I probably bang on about the importance of proofreading a little too much but it really should be a vital part of the process whenever you create marketing materials – and not just an afterthought. Time and time again I find evidence that proofreading after the event can be an expensive exercise!

The latest high profile case of this was featured in The Guardian on Saturday. The story led like this:

The American author Jonathan Franzen might justly be called a perfectionist: his latest opus, Freedom, took nine years of painstaking effort to complete inside a spartan writing studio – and is now being widely acclaimed as a modern masterpiece.

So it is particularly unfortunate that, thanks to an apparent mistake by his typesetters, the version published in Britain has been found to be littered with errors.

In a highly embarrassing move, publishers HarperCollins were today forced to offer to exchange thousands of copies after Franzen revealed that the UK edition of a novel dubbed “the book of the century” is based on an early draft manuscript, and contains hundreds of mistakes in spelling, grammar and characterisation.

The publishers are alleging that the copy of the book that went to print was in fact an early draft, not the final version. Incredible really – it only takes a simple numerical renaming of every draft to see easily which the latest one is – but then, mistakes do happen.

So how will this impact on HarperCollins? It could prove very expensive for them if they are to recall all 80,000 copies. Fellow publisher Jonathan Blake comments:

HarperCollins is not planning a full scale recall of the 80,000 hardback copies in bookshops for logistical reasons. Such a print run would have cost the publisher around £70,000, with distribution and other costs ramping the amount up to around £100,000.

In other words, unless purchasers specifically request a replacement, the incorrect books will remain on the shelves! Before you rush out to stock up and sell them on eBay, there’s little chance that they will become valuable or collectible though, with such a high print run.

(Full article here)

Clkoser to home, I have dealt with clients who made similar mistakes – and it has cost them dearly. One company asked me to proofread the copy for a new website – but not till after the site had gone live. The site was littered with mistakes so not only did they have to pay me for the proofreading, they also had to recall the web designer, whose bill for editing the site wasn’t small.

And I’ve lost count of the number of people I meet who have errors in their marketing materials. They know they’re there, but they didn’t get them properly checked before the artwork went to print. And with most businesses running on tight budgets, there’s not a lot you can do with 5,000 incorrect leaflets other than hand them out despite the typos!

So okay, this is a business plug, but it’s also a very inexpensive tip too. Before you send anything off to print, get it checked first!

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