You Found an Error in your Manuscript… and it’s been LIVE for a Year…

I’m going to tell you a little story. Last Friday I had a mini-meltdown. No, seriously. There was ranting and raving. I think I may have thrown something… there were even a few tears. I questioned why I even bother trying to write and publish and the sheer impossibility of ever being able to put something out that’s error-free.

You see, when you’re indie-published, you have this overwhelming need to make sure everything you do is “perfect.” We don’t have the resources of a huge publishing house, their personnel list of umpteen copy editors, proofers, etc… we must do everything ourselves, we must hire our own editors and proofers, then work with beta readers, then possibly even beg and plead with friends, to help proof our books. I sometimes feel like it’s all just too overwhelming, to be honest.

So, back to the meltdown… It all started with me trying to figure out what makes people want to buy my novels. I’m on a lot of social media outlets and trying different things on different sites. I tackled instagram this month and started a hashtag contest for readers to upload my novel THE HUNT FOR XANADU with the hashtag #xanaduquest, and they will be entered to win one of five signed hard covers of the next novel in the series, THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB. It’s been going well so far and I made a “Fan Shout-Out” page on my website at http://www.elysesalpeter.com if you’d like to check it out.

So, on Friday, I copy/pasted the first two paragraphs of Chapter One of THE HUNT FOR XANADU, loaded it to Paint, adjusted it and put it on instagram. I was thinking it would be a cool way to entice people to read the first part of the novel and maybe interest them enough to want to read more. Here’s what I posted:

xanaduinstagram

I then promoted it on twitter, google+ and then to my author groups on FB. Well, lo and behold “eagle-eye” editing/proofer friend, Bob Nailor, side emailed me and told me laughingly that I had a few edit problems with this paragraph. I went “stone cold.” Edit problems? How can there possibly be any edit problems? I’ve had this book out for over a year and it’s been scanned through meticulously. He HAD TO BE WRONG.

But he wasn’t. Can you see the errors above? I couldn’t. It actually took me THREE reads to find what Bob was talking about – and he even told me what they were. Apparently there should be a comma after the word “drugged” but more importantly, there should be the word “be” after “reckoning it would” – which I obviously missed. Not to mention I see a spacing issue, too, between “an impressive.” But you know what kills me? What made me have my mini-meltdown? I published this book December of 2013. I had an editor, a proofer and six people sifted through it before it went live. I read it myself easily fifteen times. I had six updates I put on both Kindle and Createspace because people kept finding errors. But no one found this… until Friday. No one found this error IN THE FIRST CHAPTER, until Friday. The mini-meltdown happened for about twenty-five minutes where I decided I was going to quit writing, that I was an utter hack and maybe the books hadn’t gotten traction because they are “riddled” with mistakes.

And then my writing friends talked me down. My book isn’t RIDDLED with mistakes. It’s missing a “be” and it’s one of those words the mind actually adds as you’re reading the copy. Most people probably never even noticed. (well, unless you’re Bob Nailor). I’ve calmed down, fixed the document and re-uploaded the fixed document to both kindle and createspace – I’ll have to figure out how to fix the copy on ibooks.

What I learned? You can’t be perfect. I can’t tell you how many errors I find in mainstream published books coming out of big publishing houses, but yet as Indie Authors, we feel this need for perfection and I wonder if I simply have to stop expecting myself to be perfect, because I obviously am not. I may be putting too much stress on myself. Mistakes happen, and we are all human. The good news is since I am indie-published, I have the control to be able to fix these errors when I find them. If I had a mainstream published book, it would not be as easy. In less than 25 minutes I re-uploaded the novel without these mistakes and I moved on with my life… (of course, I try not to cringe, knowing how many people purchased my novel with this mistake, and the hard copies sitting in my closet that I use for book signings have this mistake, but what’s done is done)

FYI – Do you need another pair of eyeballs to proof your work? Maybe give Bob a call – he’s also a proof-reader, author and editor by trade, and obviously a good one. You can reach him here and he’s very reasonable: http://www.bobnailor.com/index_b.php?type=b

And, if you’d like a copy of the novel WITHOUT THESE ERRORS, (sigh), feel free to get it here: http://amzn.to/1JXHtul and hey, come join the contest – I’m giving away five signed hard copies of THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB. It’s at the formatter right now. Launch date: 2/28. I’m trying not to obsess what mistakes I possibly missed in THAT. Sigh…

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35 thoughts on “You Found an Error in your Manuscript… and it’s been LIVE for a Year…

  1. Brutally honest and well done for that. It’s a fact of life, isn’t it? And as you say all authors are fallible even with an army of ‘people’ behind them. Another punch which caught you off guard, but up you get, wait for the bell, take a breath, a sip of something cold and come out slugging for the next book….

  2. First, thank you for all the kind words and free advertising, but I’m human, too, and miss things in my own work. Still, I try. Now, Elyse, you seem to be the exception. You want a perfect copy which, of course, is almost impossible. BUT, there are those Indie authors who write the novel, think it is great, let Mom read it who gives her blessing and the next thing, it is published. The number of errors is mind-boggling. Your work, on the other hand, is exceptional and well written. The comma can be considered optional and as you said, the word “be” can easily slip into the mental reading mind. Keep up the great work and try not to be so hard on yourself.

  3. Really well written blog and not just because you praise me – and thanks for the plug, btw. You touched on a subject that many writers seem to skip over. Maybe this will hit home with a few. Again, thanks.

    Bob.

    Sent from Windows Mail

  4. I have nightmares about this type of thing and my current publisher may even consider me to be annoying because I kept insisting on corrections but am learning to let go.

  5. Hey, Elysesa! I think because the works of indie authors are more scrutinized than those that are traditionally published, and when there are mistakes in indie books, readers/reviewers often paint us with the same brush, therefore, we are harder on ourselves.
    The last two novels I read, both New York Times bestsellers, and both published by big publishing houses were not without their mistakes! In fact, one even had two characters’ surnames mixed up on one page, but both had the occasional typos! i.e. ‘dandled’ instead of ‘dangled’, ‘bagged’ instead of ‘bragged’, ‘getter’ instead of ‘better’, etc.
    In one of these books, there were also 3 paragraphs on a single page that was redundant. All 3 characters repeated pretty much the exact same thing. It made me wonder if this bestselling author even had an editor to catch these mistakes, or they just let it slide (under the pre tense he either knew to proofread/edit his own work or they believed they were giving him full creative licence), knowing his name alone would sell books for them.
    No matter how many people I had proofreading, even with two professional editors appointed by my agent to polish my story, something always slipped by. Many of these readers would tell me they got so ‘caught up in the story’ they forgot to look for mistakes! Each time, I’d want to thump my head against my desk, but my writing mentor, the great Terry Brooks gave me the best advice about this when I was in his writing workshop. He said that because proofreading is done by people, you must allow for human error, and if you look closely at even books published by the big publishing houses, you’ll spot them. He went on to say, “People are far more forgiving if they read a story they love and it has a few typos, but what is unforgivable is for people to spend money on a book that is technically perfect, but the story falls flat.”
    I still strive to put out the best possible product, but these days, I’m not so hard on myself. If you’d like to read more about what I learned from bestselling authors like Terry Brooks, you’re welcome to check into my blog archive and read my Feb. 22, 2011 post called Adventures in Editing… or Are We Done Yet?
    So, don’t be too hard on yourself and get to work on that next story!

    • Thank you Lorna, that makes me feel so much better. I think I’m trying to get over this impression that unless I’ve got a solidly polished book that people won’t take me seriously that I want to do this “for real” and that I’m very serious about being an author. I am going to check out your blog, thank you!

  6. I seldom read a book that is error free. My question is, do most auhors want to know? I could become pretty unpopular if I pointed out each one. Kudos to you Elyse for your willingness to hear and fix!

  7. Don’t take it so hard, Elyse. I figure my books have approximately half a million characters each, not counting spaces. There will be errors. I’ve not found an editor yet who could produce an error-free manuscript. Every time I’ve revisited one of my books, I’ve found a few typos, and they’re carefully edited by at least four people who are pretty good at it before I release them.. I’ve never yet read a book (or an editor’s web page, for that matter) that didn’t have errors of some sort. We do the best we can, and we hope that we don’t have errors that interfere with the readers’ pleasure.

  8. Brave and brilliant post, Elyse. Lorna’s comment is superb and 100% on the mark with the advice from Terry Brooks – readers will forgive errors in stories they love. As independent authors, we should strive for perfection, but remember that as readers forgive our mistakes, so we should forgive ourselves (and our professional editors).

    • Thank you so much. To be honest, I didn’t expect so much support! I really thought we had to be perfect. I’m still going to strive for that, but I’ll give myself a bit more of a break. 🙂 Thank you so much for commenting.

  9. I just had this happen to me yesterday. It’s impossible to proof your own work, but even professionals miss things. But it’s agonizing, isn’t it? Maybe if I hired Bob to go through it after my other editor…

  10. Good lesson. Give yourself a break. Even without the dawn of the internet, or the ease with which self-publishing has grown, these kinds of mistakes are more common than you think. There are articles devoted to errors found in classic books, novels, etc… We’re all human. It happens. Glad you were talked off the ledge! Great post!

  11. I actually just went back and did a new edit with a new editor on my novel I published last July for this same exact reason. I should have it reformatted and ready to upload this week. It happens. Better to find the errors and fix them than go on not knowing they are there. Sorry though, it does suck. Especially since you’ve read it a gazillion times and then a reader tells you your back blurb says quite instead of quiet. The blurb? How is that possible since I read that a gazillion and one times. Frustrating.

    • OMG, a mistake on the blurb… I feel your pain – I really, really do. This was chapter one. How many times did I read these first three paragraphs so they were pristine? So very many. Sigh.

      • I know. It’s like our eyes just move right over them without seeing. What I’ve learned? Always hire an editor and proofreader, and if you are proofreading (which I no longer trust myself to do on my own work) for yourself or someone else, read aloud slowly. I do agree that I’ve found typos in big five books also, but we, as self-published authors, have to be even better. I would rather a bad review because my book wasn’t the reader’s cup of tea than because of editing errors. Great post.

  12. It is maddening, but I can assure you I have read some big house books that were riddled with errors. One book had an issue on every page. I wrote to the publisher asking if they needed editors I would be willing to apply. 🙂

  13. Pingback: You Found an Error in your Manuscript… and it’s been LIVE for a Year… | 2sheepinthecity's Blog

  14. I read somewhere that the typical manuscript has more than a million keystrokes which translates to a million chances for mistakes. And the worst thing is that our brains are hotwired to subconsciously correct transposed letters even when we’re looking for them. After going over my last book multiple times, giving it to several friends for careful reading, I thought we’d caught them all. And then after it had been out a couple of months, a lady in my choir found five more. I’ve decided with the next book, after I’m sure we’ve gotten all they typos, I’m giving a copy to that lady in my choir.

  15. Elyse, I would actually argue about needing an comma after “drugged”…look up the Royal Order of Adjectives to see a chart that show when commas are *not* needed. After all, you wouldn’t say, “cute, little girl,” right? It would just be “cute little girl.” That’s what the ROA shows you, is when commas are NOT needed (sorry, Bob, for the disagreement). But, yup, a “be” is certainly needed. I think all our brains missed it because it’s at the break from one line to the next.

    That said, you are glorious to care so much. I’ve ready plenty of books where the author either didn’t care, or didn’t have the resources to reflect their concern, because the mistakes were painfully raw and obvious to my eyes. The fact that you’re obsessing over two relatively tiny mistakes makes me think I need to go find and buy one of your books. Oh, wait–I already did.

    🙂

  16. And thus, I prove once again why I could never be an editor. I’ve been working with an editor on my first book and it’s amazing what we can miss. Need that second pair of eyes, and sometimes more. Point is though, it’s great content. Almost no one noticed. The book spoke for itself.

    You’re a top writer Elyse, never forget that.

  17. Not harping…

    I know you hate, Hate, HATE to hear the word – Scrivener – but I thought I’d send you the link to watch a video. It’s like 90min but the last 30 mins I’m pretty sure is a lot of Q&A. The link goes dead I think on Monday night, it might be Sunday night, not sure. Click on the link and it will let you know how much longer it will be up to view. It really shows some of the cool stuff that you can do with Scrivener.

    If you delete this, no problem. I’m watching it right now and still learning new tricks to get my projects done and can’t wait to implement some of the stuff that is available. Right now I’m watching the 32 min mark and it is talking about status and boy, trust me, this will be a Godsend for me since I can never remember where I am in my edits. I just watched how to track the POV scenes of the characters.

    I can already hear you beginning to cringe. Your call.

    Bob.

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