The thing I like most about watching Pawn Stars is I never know what I’m going to learn. The pawn shop is so much more than people selling jewelry or coins for quick cash. Some of the items turn out to be rare antiques really worth some serious money. But whether the item is worth anything or not, the guys in the shop always have some interesting information on everything that lands on their counter.
Rick, the owner of the Silver & Gold Pawn Shop purchased a first edition copy of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. That in itself was really cool, considering the book was first published in 1850. I think the seller got it from a friend of his who owed him money. After Rick inspected the book, he was satisfied it was the real deal and bought it.
Later on in the show, he brought in an expert to confirm the authenticity. After looking over the book herself, she agreed that not only was it a first edition, but a first ISSUE. How did she know this?
The expert turned to page 16. There at the top of the page was the word “recal”.
Yup, that’s right. Recall. With one “l”.
Doesn’t really matter whether it was the printer, the proofreader, the editor or Dickens himself who made the mistake. For me, seeing the typo in a major literary work made me feel a lot better about my own work. That one little error took a classic down off the pedestal and made it more, dare I say…human?
One of the main reasons people end up with a failure to launch syndrome is they want the end product to be perfect. The truth is, nothing is perfect. We had dozens of pairs of eyes going over our own Loyalties and the first issue still had errors. And maybe one day when hundreds of years have gone by, some young writer will have picked up a first issue of our own book and found those errors.
Fortunately, in our modern world, correcting those typos aren’t as labor intensive as they used to be back in 1810. All we have to do is pull up a file, edit the typo and upload new files to our ebook distributor or printer.
My advice to all you writers out there? Embrace the fact imperfection is a given. Go ahead and do your best to make your book as clean and professional as possible (imperfection is not the same as being lazy!) and create a release date. Mark that date down in pen and make sure it happens.
And what do you say to your audience when they tell you they found a typo?
Why, “Thank you”, of course!
Photo: David Copperfield 1953; WC Fields & Freddie Bartholomew