Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's 3 AM and I'm still afraid

Yes, it's 3 AM, and I just finished reading my new novel for the 6th time since it's been contracted. Checking for mistakes. And my six edits are on top of the several edits done by the editor and copyreader. They sent it to me for "one last" edit. The book is released in February. After tonight, it goes to print.

Scary.

Why? Because each and every time I read this book, I find a comma that should or should not be in a place. I find a straight quote instead of a smart quote. And I worry how many people are going to read the story and only see misplaced punctuation. So I spent hours today scanning the manuscript, hunting for the minutiae. I'd bet $100 without blinking that all of us did not catch them all. In 105,000 words and 34 chapters, I'd bet a week's pay that someone will find something to fix.

After going through all these edits, it also scares me to think I'd do this on my own. No, I'm not about to bash those who self-publish. On the contrary, my hat's off to them for dissecting all the formatting, legal and graphic obstacles that go with that journey. But I've learned that one, two, six, even ten rounds of proofreading and edits may not be enough.

If you decide to write a book, my advice to you is :
  • Write it without rushing. 
  • Rewrite it a half dozen times. It gets better each time, I promise. Nobody over-edits, trust me.
  • Let it chill for weeks, months even. 
  • Edit it yourself several times. 
  • Give it to others to edit, not read, edit.
  • Hire someone to edit, someone not connected to you.
  • Hire someone else, and do it again.
I understand why it takes a while to publish a book, regardless the method. Mine took 15 months, and oh my gosh, am I glad it did.

8 comments:

Sioux said...

Your baby's almost here...A few last-minute worries (will it have all its "fingers and toes"? will it look/read like me?) and soon, you'll be able to hold it in your arms and have everyone ooh and aah over it.

Congratulations.

Lyn Fairchild Hawks said...

You go, girl! All this meticulous attention to detail, to the well-placed comma, will pay off.

I'm also glad you're communicating how much work it is to so many people. This helps destroy the myth that "anyone can do it" and "I'm ready to publish, now!" after draft #1.

Lyn

Doris Nehrbass said...

Hope, you are quite right about the difficulty of catching every single error, but you are being so diligent, I’d bet there’ll be very few, if any, when your book comes out. I think most readers get caught up in the story and don’t necessarily pay that much attention to the finer points of grammar and punctuation, so if it turns out you have a misplaced comma here and there, I doubt they’ll notice. However, you are right about the importance of doing extra editing and proofreading and about hiring someone else to do both as well. You want the finished product to be the best it can be. I have no doubt yours will be.

D.G. Hudson said...

You'll do fine. Best wishes for a great launch. Keep us posted.

BECKY said...

Oh,Hope....don't be scared! Everything's going to be fabulous!

Jennifer Fitz said...

If it makes you feel better, I have a relative who used to entertain himself by circling all the errors he found in Agatha Christie's. I treasure those annotated copies. :-).

Hope Clark said...

Jennifer
That so made me laugh! Thanks.

Hope

Ada said...

No one can catch them all. I'm so excited to read your book, Hope!