I had an e-mail from a reader yesterday saying there is a typo in Escaping the Giant Wave. This book was published in 2004 and nobody had noticed this error before, or at least they didn’t tell me about it. When I opened the book to page 24, I found that my young reader was correct: there is a mistake. I can’t even call it a typo because this is clearly a math error!
Before a book is printed, it gets read several times by me, by my editor, by copy editors and line editors – and not one of us noticed that BeeBee says five times $125 equals $725, when it actually equals $625.
This is not the first time I’ve made a mistake that has slipped by the watchful eyes of editors and made it into print. There was an error in my first novel, Deadly Stranger, that came about because I changed the letters on a license plate in one spot in the book but forgot to change it in an earlier place. That time, the mistake was discovered by my daughter as soon as the book was published. The hardcover publisher went bankrupt so I couldn’t correct future hardcover editions, but Troll had purchased paperback rights, so I wrote to them and requested a correction in the paperback edition. They agreed to make the change, but didn’t. After Troll’s contract ran out, I sold paperback rights to Pocket Books and again asked for the correction. Again, I was told it would be fixed but it wasn’t. The book finally went out of print twenty years after the error was discovered without ever being corrected.
I’ve made other mistakes over the years, as well, and I’m always dismayed when a reader spots one.
Sometimes I’m accused of errors that I didn’t make! One reader wrote to tell me that in The Hideout it’s wrong to have the train blow its whistle in town. He said his dad works for the railroad and train whistles are no longer blown in town. Well, maybe not where he lives, but where I live, the trains whistle loud and long in town all the time. (You can hear them in the background if you watch a Seattle Mariner’s baseball game.)
There is a mistake on the cover of my newest Pete the Cat book, Trapped. This time it wasn’t my fault! The artist depicted Pete with a white tail when Pete actually has a dark brown tail. His tail doesn’t show on the covers of The Stranger Next Door or Spy Cat so this never came up before. I’ve requested a correction for the paperback edition – but I’m not holding my breath!