I hate typos and here’s what I’m doing about it


I’ve been writing fiction for the past fifteen years of my life.  I’ve written straight literature, adventure, romance, utilized the present tense to create an aura of immediacy in my character’s actions and crafted flash backs to illuminate both the past and the present of my narrative.

After all of this I have come to the conclusion that there is one, and only one, thing I know about my writing for certain: it will always have typos in it.

There are those out there who jump all over any typo they find in the written word and point to it as a cardinal sin, as a sign of sloppiness, of not caring.  And I can understand these people, I really can.   This is my product.  This is my work.  This has my name on it.  I shouldn’t allow typos to exist.

But the thing is it’s not that easy.  I care, I really do.  I go to preposterous lengths to eliminate typos.  I read these stories an appalling number of times.  You would think there was something wrong with me if I told you the number of reads any one piece of my fiction gets from me.  And to top all of that off, when I’m done with rewrites and editing, I go ahead and I read said piece of fiction one more time…backwards.

And I still miss typos.

It’s at a point where I just have to concede that finding typos isn’t my strong suit.  I’m almost inclined to say that finding typos and thinking creatively are two mindsets that simply don’t occur together.  Almost.  I know enough authors who are creative and capable of finding typos so I can’t entirely buy into that.  But I do think that finding typos is a completely different mental process from finding typos, and they aren’t necessarily found within the same brain at the same time.

I mean, typos are basically like optical illusions.  This is a world where a very large percentage of people will read the following image as being correctly written:


Some of you are wondering how anyone could see that as correct, and some of you are wondering what’s incorrect about it.

My point? My point is, in a nutshell, that for me typos are like shit.  They happen.

And not just to me.  I read plenty of professionally published books that contain typos, which leads me to believe that not only do I have trouble with the little buggers but even people whose job it is to find them have problems with them.  I read “The Naked and The Dead” recently and counted no less than ten typos.  That’s a critically acclaimed best selling book and it had typos.  Which I believe suggests that even if I turned to professional proofreaders I wouldn’t have any guarantee of being rid of typos, not to mention professional proofreading can run up into the tens of thousands of dollars.

No, I think I have a better solution.  I will continue to break my back trying to catch every last typo in my writing.  That won’t change.  But here’s the new part.  After I’m done with it, you all will be in charge of catching typos.  The way I figure it, a few thousand pairs of eyes is much better than one or two. And since I can correct a typo in my master copy, upload that to my publisher and have a corrected version being sold in under 24 hours I see no reason not to put your eyes to use as long as I’ve got them.

So I’m launching what I like to refer to as “The Great Typo Hunt.”  From here on out anyone who catches a typo will win their choice of either a signed copy of any published Joseph Devon work, or a $5 amazon Gift card per typo.

So if you catch five typos, that’s five signed books, or one signed book and a $20 amazon gift card…or however you want to break it down.

There are, of course, some rules and entry details.  I go into this all over at the contest page but to touch on some of the bigger ones:

  • Only works of fiction qualify for this contest.  The blog writing is too much and has to happen too fast.  So only typos found in my short stories or books count.
  • The Letter is currently not eligible, once I switch that over to my current publisher it will be a part of this contest but for now it’s not.
  • First come first serve.
  • I have final say on what a typo is.  I don’t really care about grammar so don’t come to me with dangling modifiers.  “Its a wonderful life,” contains a typo.  That should be “It’s a wonderful life.”  “Where’s the bread at?” is not a typo even though you technically shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition.  If you’re not sure go ahead and email me.  I like chatting about this stuff anyway.
  • The typo you find has to exist in the most current master copy which exists on my hard drive.  Which is to say if you’re reading an old edition and you find a typo that someone else has already told me about and I’ve corrected it, then that doesn’t count.  I’ll put through all corrections near immediately on the website, but it takes a little longer to put them through in bound editions.  My work is out there at this point in so many forms that I can’t possibly push corrections through on all of them.  So only typos found in authorized content counts.  Basically if your typos exists in the version currently up on my website then you’ve probably got yourself a winner.  If it has already been corrected then it has already been corrected.

And that’s basically it.

Happy hunting.


  1. I don’t know if you’ve seen something like this before, but we have a typo generator at http://typo.inkfactory.com. We actually use it to generate typos for search/keyword related tasks but we thought we’d make it available and see if people use it.

    By applying some simple “wrong key” / “missed key” / “double key” / “transposed key” lookups the script suggests likely typos. It does assume a certain accuracy in the input – I.E. it only suggests one typo per iteration.

    I’m not sure if it’s really useful for anything else and I don’t think it’s a really new idea but I thought it might be of interest. 🙂

  2. It’s more an optical illusion than a typo. I am so obsessed with hating typos that I stared at that sign ’til I got it, then kicked myself when I did.

    • josephdevon says:

      Someone had to stand there and literally point their finger at the error before I could see it the first time. I’m convinced that this is how typos hide from me…