...well, it's a little too late for that, as the book's already been released to Amazon and I've ordered a dozen copies for a few chosen friends who've agreed to be my "First Readers". But last night, while thumbing through it, thinking, for the hundredth time, "Wow. It's hard to believe it's actually finished," I realized that actually, it wasn't.
"What's this?" I exclaimed as my I scanned p. 293, one of the "Dreamories" I particularly enjoyed originally writing, but then reworked extensively in draft 5. "Comfortabl," with no "e?"
I grabbed a pencil and circled the offending typo. "How did I do that?" I wondered. "I ran a spell-checker on the damned thing a dozen times. It would have picked this up for sure!"
I went back to the to of the page.
"OUCH!" I yelped. "Another one!" "Taxi-drives. Should be "Taxi-drivers!" Another pencilled circle. I kept reading, finding two MORE glaring typos. FOUR errors on one page!!!!
How could this have happened? How had I missed a page so glaringly unfinished? What do I do now? The book is already for sale at CreateSpace, and I've initiated sales on Amazon. I've ordered those dozen copies for First Readers. I've emailed a select group of colleagues to crow about finishing my first book...
My first inclination was to go directly to CreateSpace and freeze the publication. But then I thought again. It's nearly summer break. There's no time to correct the errors, order a new Proof Copy, review and approve it again, and get new copies before summer. And I want to get some other eyes on the book. I've spent almost three years "writing with the door closed", as Stephen King calls it, and it's time to open the door on the damned thing, warts and all.
And so I'm leaving it up on CreateSpace and letting it go for sale on Amazon - but I'm going back to do a full re-read myself, and I'll keep a log here of all the errors I discover. At the same time, I'll ask my "First Readers" two additional favors. Along with offering me some general constructive feedback on the premise, the plot and the character development, I'll ask if they'll note specific grammatical, spelling and formatting errors, either by marking up their copies of the book, by dropping me a note to advise me of these, or by posting comments to this blog.
It's a lot to ask, but the people who've agreed to be "First Readers" have been really supportive of the project so far. I'm hopeful that they'll see this as an opportunity to help me polish this thing into a really finished product that we can all take some pride in.
And so, in a new post, I'm going to set up an "Errata" post. I'll note, page by page, the remaining errors I've picked up myself, for cleanup once I've completed a full re-read (this is a busy time of the year, so it's going to take, at a guess, a month). With First Reader input, I'll then put the manuscript on "Hold", resubmit the (final?) polished copy, and then, of course, go through the process of ordering yet another proof copy and, hopefully, on receipt, taking the book off "hold" and back up for sale. This, of course, is one of the really nice things about Print on Demand. It's an ephemeral product, and as such, I can hold to a baker's dozen the number of copies that go out with all these remaining errors. If my First Readers give it a thumbs-up, the final draft will include the cumulative corrections of a half-dozen people rather than just me.
SO - If you're still with me here, something about this process has interested you. I hope you'll join me in this next phase, which will be to get a final polish on this thing, so I can move on to other projects.
And why did this happen? I think I've got the answer. I ended up doing some pretty extensive rewrites of several chapters in Draft 5 - and I did NOT run a Spell and Grammer check after completing the last of these. In fact, I didn't run a spellcheck in the last two weeks I worked on it. So, I'm guessing I introduced new errors in my final rewrites, and in my eagerness to finish and finally get the project off to CreateSpace, I forgot a final check. Egg on Face - bigtime!
Oh, for an editor, a professional who does this for a living, and could probably spot these compositional faux pas in a flash! As the writer, I'm beginnning to really believe that as I read and reread passages I've been over a dozen times, that I start seeing what I "meant" rather than what I really committed to the page.
But hey, who ever said this was going to be easy! Let's not give up when we're this close. Onward!