Monday, September 9, 2013

The Perfect Book

You've written the novel.  You've edited the crap out of it. Your friends have gone over it. Your professional editor has gone over it. You finally read it aloud for final pass. Surprisingly, you find several errors that were glossed over and correct them.

You send it off to an editor who jumps at the chance to publish your novel. Again, more edits.

Finally!  The book is printed. Perfect. Flawless.


If you think that your book will be printed and be flawless, think again.  Any writer worth their merit will agree that by going back over the novel once it is in print is pure agony and shame.  Most of them know that some glaring error is going to blaze out of the page at them.  Many authors of published books agree that the worst thing a newly published author can do is to read the book.

I didn't believe that poppycock any more than you.

OMG!  They were right!

Within just a few pages I saw errors.  Some mine, some not.

Let me step back.  To begin, the publisher and I had gone over the edits more times than either of us wished to even count.  Finally, it went to print and the publisher received a "preview" copy.  He was horrified.  The printer had called to state that there was a problem.  Seems there are more shades of black than one.  The cover had three images and text.  Surprise!  The images were on black backgrounds and yet, when placed on the full screen background of black, they appeared to blend but when broken down into their respective CMYB components.  Okay, that's when it all fell apart.  In the RGB spectrum, they were fine.  But it seemed that the black on each image had a slightly different amount of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. This made each image stand out separately from the standard background black.  With some work by the art department, the colors were corrected and all the blacks were of the same quality and shade.

As stated, we'd worked the text and massaged the edits until it was a wonderful manuscript worthy of print.


There was a spelling error, an incorrect verb tense.  Oh my!  There was POV issues, not to mention tense issues.  Error after error literally glowed on the pages as I read.

Where were these errors in the drafts?  Did the alphabet gremlins attack the work when somebody wasn't watching?  Was the final copy lost or misplaced and an older version used?

After validation that the correct version (final) was used, all I could do was what other writers do.  I moved on, started writing on my next opus, ignoring the errors.  It was done. It was over with. There was nothing I or the publisher could do.  The book was in the public eye.  In other words - Live with it!

Surprisingly, many well-known authors experience the exact same thing.  They finish their work, get it published and move on to the next project.  Some may read the printed version.  Many won't.

A writer's life is about writing.  Not strictly writing. They are also readers.  A writer who doesn't read is a writer out of touch with trends.  So, most writers are voracious readers.  Just like web designers keep up with current design trends and new tools, so must a writer.  Any tax law attorney worth their weight will be current with new laws which means they read.

So, as a writer, read.  Just don't read your stuff.  Read other authors and then work on your next manuscript.  Yes, make it perfect so the next time you're published, you won't find any mistakes.

Even the best fantasy books printed (they come out every January) which are labeled "Seed Catalogs" have errors.  Imagine my surprise when I saw "Enjoys full shade. Plant in full sun."  Now, maybe this flower does enjoy full shade, but I am not about to plant something out in the full sunlight, if the plant loves shade!   That's giving "Full Shade" a whole new meaning.  If it had been a creeper-type plant, maybe I could have bought into the idea that it moves itself to the shade after it germinates.  No, I couldn't buy that.  Just like the home I saw for sale.  It had an out building with a new 6' cement floor.  I'm sure it was supposed to be six inches, not six feet. That's a lot of cement!

Typos occur.  I'll be going back over this entry to make sure I try to clean most of them out but I already know, more than likely, something will slip through.  Enjoy the fact -- I'm human.  I make errors.  Of course, I'm still fascinated by the six foot thick floor. I've heard of "cement boots" and wonder just how many bodies are in that floor. Maybe somebody got over zealous with their work?

I'm finishing up edits on a WIP.  Just found a sentence with ".. a the man..." which we all know is wrong.  It is either "a man" or "the man" and I corrected it.  This, after several edits by me, my beta-readers, and a professional editor.  It was still there.  I wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't been asked to "up the word count" and was attempting to fluff the story.  Imagine my chagrin -- I'm adding words and had to delete some.  Uh, yes, I found more than just one error.

Wow.  Maybe this will be the perfect book!  Now quit giggling... it could happen!

Until next I ramble on...


  1. Well said, Bob. It's a tough process. I was reading my first book before an audience when I saw it! It was a time error. I had read it many, many times, but never saw it until then. I can still recall how hot I felt under the collar as I glossed over it, making the correction on the fly.
    My least favorite part of the process is at the end, when I force myself to read the manuscript aloud. It's such a slow ordeal, but ultimately well worth it.
    Best of luck, sir!


  2. The "read aloud" is not only a slow process but a terribly painful one, too. While reading aloud the other day I came to realize why only half of what my brain thinks of gets to the paper.