Gollancz drops the ball...

Boneman

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So, recently, I met some fellow chronners at Forbidden Planet, then had an enjoyable evening of food and drink and like-minded conversation. Whilst in Forbidden Planet, I bought a book. The hardback, signed edition of Twelve Kings by Bradley Beaulieu. It went like this:

a) Saw the cover on the shelf, liked it.
b) Picked it up, read the blurbs, wanted to know more.
c) Read the 1st chapter (we were waiting for others to arrive)
d) Liked the writing, the story, and the main character.
e) Bought the book (by the way, you should see Bradley's signature, must take him ten minutes to do each one!)

Publisher's job done well: book prominent in store, attractive cover, good blurbs, great 1st Chapter and a sale made. Everyone happy.

Except... the typesetter for Gollancz should either be sacked, or was sacked, and was taking his revenge. By the time I reached the middle of the book I was ready to throw it at the wall, because of the crescendo of end-of-line typos that began increasingly to ruin my enjoyment of some terrific writing. The more it happened, the more distracted I became, then annoyed, then angry. The writer should feel royally pi**ed off with what they have done to his book, because they managed to reduce the professionalism of his writing. I did finish it, with gritted teeth, and wondered who I should see about a refund. Wasn't cheap - £18 - but when I was in the store I thought it would be worth it. If any other product in the world had the same amount of errors, I'm pretty sure I could get a refund. Should Forbidden Planet refund me because they're selling a faulty product? Should Gollancz refund me because they made the product that had so many errors?

Will I buy the sequel? Well, next time I will spend a lot of time in Waterstone's and browse a lot more than the first chapter. If I can see the wordkiller is no more, I'll buy it there. Sorry FP, I'm not sure you deserve my business if you're selling faulty goods. If the wordkiller is still at work, I'll give up on the series, and wait for this 1st edition, error-strewn copy to be worth more than I paid for it (when Bradly becomes a best-seller, as he may if Gollancz sack the typesetter) and flog it.

And Gollancz? I'm going to be very careful with your books in future. Shabby job, I'm afraid.

I hear you ask what it was that upset me. So I'll tell you: here's a line from the 1st page that is properly typeset:

She checked the straps of her armor. Her greaves, her bracers, her heavy bat-
tle skirt. And finally her breastplate. etc etc


'Battle' is broken into a hyphenated word to better fit the page and my eyes read it perfectly. Could have had the whole word on the second line, but Gollancz do like to keep tight line spaces and it always looks good. On page two there's another example:

The walls of the fighting pit towered around her and above them, arranged in concen-
tric circles, were the seats of the stadium.

I'm pretty sure this is the last time the typesetter bothered. A trickle of words than run over a line and are split without hyphens begins almost immediately, and thickens into a torrent. On page 3 the first one appears:

In response Ceda* strode toward him and pressed her thumb to an ex
posed edge on the back of her mailed gloves.

Exposed or ex posed? Was it showing, or had it been modelling?

16 lines later:

Pelam stepped out from another darkened tunnel. The calls of betting rose to a tu
mult as the audience saw the first bout was ready to begin

It makes me mentally stammer as I read it, tripping me up, because I'm scanning perfectly easily and then I have to think what the heck the word was. Just for a second, granted, but it is a jolt out of the storytelling. If these were the only ones, I'd have skimmed on, enjoyed the story and wanted more, waited for more. But...

As if to show he/she can do the job the typesetter does it correctly on page 4, top line:

(...)were rare but not unheard of, especially if one of the fighters was inexperi-
enced and jumped when the snake drew near.

And then does three more properly hyphenated words on the same page, and seems to settle into a rhythm, hypenating words that run over two lines. But in Chapter 2 it begins to creep in again:

(...) watching with no small amount of interest. He wore fine clothes - ref kaf
tan, rich leather sandals etc

She took a half-step toward him, acutely aware of the trail of sweat tick
ling its way down the small of her back.

By page 400 (of 580) I'd lost count of them but there were over a hundred. A hundred irritating, stand-out testaments to poor typesetting, and poor presentation. We might (often unfairly) attribute poor presentation to books that are rushed out, or use more disreputable printers. But Gollancz? This was a surprise...



*Sorry, couldn't put the C cedilla in, without typesetting jumping...
'Çeda'
 

SilentRoamer

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That is truly awful and I would be annoyed as well.

Hopefully he becomes a bestseller and your flawed copy becomes more valuable as a result - otherwise that really sucks.
 

Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
I got a book bought to me for Christmas, a Gollancz topseller this year, up for a lot of awards. I was driven distracted by the number of typos, but got through and still enjoyed it. My husband, however, was ready to throw out the window.

I, too, was sort of shocked. Nice to know I wasn't the only one.
 

Cathbad

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Editing problems are what nearly ruined the first Dragonlance novel for me. That was years ago... haven't editors learned anything?
 

Bradley P. Beaulieu

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I'm so sorry that this happened. It was very unfortunate. I still don't know the root cause, but I saw this as well once I received the final versions of the book. DAW Books in the US created the typesetting, and the hyphens and such were all fine in that copy. I don't know if this is always true, but I think typically Gollancz take the US typeset version and use it when the initiating publisher edits and produces the final typeset version. I believe they did this for Pat Rothfuss's books, Saladin Ahmed's, and others. In the case of TWELVE KINGS, the electronic copy looked fine. But when it was printed, the hyphens (and I think page numbers and perhaps other punctuation; semicolons, maybe?) were lost. I brought it to their attention, and they were shocked. They'd never seen the like before. They promised it would be fixed in any subsequent versions (second printings or the mmpb). And it would be caught on the following books in the series, of course.

My sincere apologies for the frustration. I don't know what Gollancz's policy is here, but I'll look into it and let you know.
 

Gary Compton

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It's sad because to me the easiest bit is scanning for errors in my opinion. You can set Word not to hyphenate or search for hyphens and highlight them just to check okay.

I have trained my eyes to scan for white spaces which can be rivers or things like above. So this is what have been done and surely they get them proofread after typesetting?
 

DrMclony

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Wow, that is shocking. Gollancz are a publisher whose products I have enjoyed a lot in decades past, but I have not read much recently. I had considered them as a possible publisher to approach if I ever bother to do such a thing, instead of staying "indie" (read self published - and I am embarking on a fantasy series at the moment, so had considered investigating such avenues for this diversion from my usual SF roots.) If this is their current standard, I will probably skip them. I might seek out a few of their current items to see for myself if it is a general issue, or an aberration.
 

Stephen Palmer

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I suspect the answer may be along the lines of: used computer, assuming it would be as good as or better than reading it. Didn't realise computers are rubbish at this sort of thing.
 

Boneman

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I'm so sorry that this happened. It was very unfortunate. I still don't know the root cause, but I saw this as well once I received the final versions of the book. DAW Books in the US created the typesetting, and the hyphens and such were all fine in that copy. I don't know if this is always true, but I think typically Gollancz take the US typeset version and use it when the initiating publisher edits and produces the final typeset version. I believe they did this for Pat Rothfuss's books, Saladin Ahmed's, and others. In the case of TWELVE KINGS, the electronic copy looked fine. But when it was printed, the hyphens (and I think page numbers and perhaps other punctuation; semicolons, maybe?) were lost. I brought it to their attention, and they were shocked. They'd never seen the like before. They promised it would be fixed in any subsequent versions (second printings or the mmpb). And it would be caught on the following books in the series, of course.

My sincere apologies for the frustration. I don't know what Gollancz's policy is here, but I'll look into it and let you know.

Not up to you to apologise, Bradley, though I admire the cut of your cloth that you have, you must be quite frustrated. It's Gollancz's fault, pure and simple. I love Ceda (I hear Shayda in my head) and am looking forward to her continuing adventure(if Gollancz get it right) I sincerely hope this series is going to be a best-seller, it deserves success!

BTW, how long does it take to do your signature? I envisage a very slow moving line at the book-signing...
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I suspect the answer may be along the lines of: used computer, assuming it would be as good as or better than reading it. Didn't realise computers are rubbish at this sort of thing.

I imagine this is the answer.

I remember when publishers sent out printed page proofs (well, OK, Xerox copies of printed page proofs) to the author, to the editor, and to a proofreader. Very few mistakes got past everyone that way. Perhaps, in fact, that's what happened at DAW. But it sounds like Gollancz was satisfied with what they saw after the book was formatted, trusted the software to get it right, and didn't bother with hard copy proofs. Human beings are still better at spotting some things.
 

Bradley P. Beaulieu

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@Boneman: Cheers. I really appreciate the kind words. Fingers crossed the series takes off! I was and am frustrated, but it was a mistake and I'm sure they and the typesetter will be very careful on the next go-around.

Çeda uses the Turkish Ç, so it's pronounced CHAY-da. And on the signature, it's funny, book paper is so pulpy it absorbs calligraphy ink VERY quickly. So I've been forced to become quite fast at it. I practiced for a LONG while on regular printer paper, and then started applying it on books. I can do each one in about 30 seconds at this point.

A quick note to you and anyone who's had issues with TWELVE KINGS: I've heard back from Gollancz. They apologize, and are quite happy to send a mass market paperback to you to make up for the mistake. If interested, please contact me at www.quillings.com/contact (sorry, it wouldn't allow me to post a link) and I'll get you in contact with my editor, who will arrange for the book to be sent to you.
 
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Gary Compton

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A quick note to you and anyone who's had issues with TWELVE KINGS: I've heard back from Gollancz. They apologize, and are quite happy to send a mass market paperback to you to make up for the mistake. If interested, please contact me at www.quillings.com/contact (sorry, it wouldn't allow me to post a link) and I'll get you in contact with my editor, who will arrange for the book to be sent to you.

You would have thought they would have re-printed the hardback and send one out to everyone who complains.
 

E.Maree

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Definitely. The paperback is a nice gesture but it's hardly a replacement for a signed hardback.
 

Boneman

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To update: I see the prequel was released yesterday... must go and check for typos before buying.:cautious: Didn't get a paperback of Twelve Kings from Gollancz, maybe I should pop in, when I'm next in London...
 

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