I have had some wonderful book reviewers in the past who have taken the time to compile mistakes in the books I have written.
It’s rather humiliating and frustrating – BUT – I’m so glad they have done it!
The honest truth is, I have not perfected my revision and editing process, but I am constantly striving to improve. Perfection is the goal. One I may never attain, but that matters little. What does matter is that I haven’t given up trying to improve my process.
Let’s look at these words one at a time: humiliating.
When a typo is pointed out to me, I humbly have to accept it. It’s not something that can be argued. I can’t say “a awkward” is correct in certain West Virginian hillbilly clans when a blue moon if followed by moonshine party. (I don’t know what that means either.) But the point is, “a” doesn’t go with the word “awkward” – it would be, well, awkward. When I search for the word and line that the reviewer pointed me to, the error is there – black and white like the checkered floor of a 50s diner. It’s wrong. It’s wrong. It’s wrong. The whole world knows it – or at least they would know it if they read my book.
Word two: frustrating. Mistakes in manuscripts are so darn frustrating because I go to extraordinary lengths to get rid of them, but perfection is elusive. I write draft and draft. Revision after revision. I have layers of readers and good editors whom I can’t fault. And after all of that, someone still might miss the fact that a painter paints on a canvas not a canvass. So easy to miss. Frustrating to know end.
What can be done? Here are a few ideas:
1) Welcome edits and critiques from ANYONE!
2) Work to improve your own editing skills. I’ve come a LONG way since writing my first novel. I’ve had to bone up on my grammar and syntax. This is a must step in helping to eliminate the possibility of typos or miscues.
3) Read your work out loud. This will slow you down when you revise. It will force you to go word for word, and you’ll be more likely to hear mistakes as well.
4) Improve the process. Work with your editor and make sure appropriate timelines are in place which can ensure a thorough process. This is especially important if you can’t afford to hire different layers of editors who focus on only one aspect of the book.
5) Find readers with keen eyes and see if they will read an advanced copy and help spot problems. Actually, my mother is really good at this. She should have been an editor.
6) Update your book! This is a glorious day and age we live in. If you are doing print-on-demand publishing, your manuscript can be changed and updated in a matter of hours. Those Kindle books can be cleaner than ever the next time one of your promotion comes along. Always keep your final drafts up to the minute concerning new mistakes or issues which have come to your attention.
I won’t be satisfied until all of my books are 100% error-free. Hopefully, I will get there someday, but for now, I’m still an indie author striving towards perfection.