Do typos hurt sales? Are the potential losses worth the cost of editing? A colleague recently called for a defensible study — presumably so we could argue with certainty that we editors are worth our weight in gold.
I’ve written a lot about (and of) typos over the years. This is where I’m recording what I find. Come back for updates, and please send me new links.
Are we prepared to find out that editing does not affect the bottom line?
Ready the smelling salts.
Context of purpose
Much may depend on the reader’s purpose, as there are circumstances under which any error would be a turn off. (Typos in written medical advice might put the validity of the whole thing into question. But a typo here? Do you much care?)
Volume of errors
Can we measure the return on investment?
What about return on investment? (ROI) Editing is the most costly expense in publishing. (If you count the manuscript development, copy editing and proofreading.) So when you feel that a few flubs won’t hurt sales, it might be tempting to skip one of those steps. In fact, most blog posts do not get any sort of edit. We rely on the kindness (and sharp eyes) of readers. But at what point will even those kind souls get turned off?
This article suggests that for ROI, you’re better off cutting back on marketing than you are cutting back in the content department.
Data and research
These are the hard facts, in a growing resource. Come back and see what’s new.
Hat tip to Graham Hayman who called for a defensible study, which sent me back to my initial post on the matter (How many errors trigger a reprint?) and a search for the studies I had read about. Hat tip as well to my colleague Iva Cheung who is the first person I thought to ask about this now, since she’s recently entered grad studies in publishing. And I could not leave out the generous publishers who shared with me their anecdotes for the initial article.