One thing I realized when I started writing mysteries is that mistakes come with the territory. As much as I want to get a squeaky clean, error-free book out there, I haven’t done it yet. I self-publish my work, so I contract out for editorial review, proof-reading and artwork. Everyone I work with his been
beyond good at what they do. I’m the one that screws up.
There is nothing better than to hear the words, “I read your book and I liked it.” (Inner glow.) Or “You better be writing another book soon, because I am invested in these characters.” (Deeper inner glow.) But when someone stops at “I read your book,” and that is usually followed by an awkward pause, there is no inner glow. I usually thank them for reading and move away as fast as possible.
In DROP DEAD RED, a few readers mentioned that there were typos. I was glad to hear about them, because they could be fixed. I asked if they had the time to let me know where they were. Originally, I had the manuscript proof read, but that was about Draft 4-5. It went to print after Draft 9. I was happy to have finished it. I never thought about having it proofread again. Result: Punctuation errors, among other things.
I realized the seriousness of this when a blogger who read my book to review it said:
“Thank you for sending me DROP DEAD RED. I've just finished reading it, but I'm sorry to say I'm not going to post a review. To be honest, I did not find the plot or Trisha's actions convincing. I liked the unique setting, but the story never coalesced for me.
Also, I was constantly distracted by the poor proofreading. There were so many missing quotation marks, extra quotation marks, and run on sentences, and each time one appeared it interrupted the flow of the mystery for me. As an English major and former college newspaper editor perhaps I'm more sensitive to such things than other readers, but these errors kept diverting my attention from the story line.
I appreciate that you sent me DROP DEAD RED, and I hope you understand my reasons for not blogging about it.”
"Thank you for taking the time to read DROP DEAD RED and giving me your honest opinion. The proof reading is my responsibility and I fell short. As for Trisha and the plot, I stand by it and her. Not every story is for everyone. C'est la vie. Wishing you the best.”
While the reviewer was gracious, I still felt stupid.
Mistakes are chances to do things differently the next time. What I learned? Have the manuscript proofread one last time before it is published. (Sounds almost too simple, doesn't it?) I’m curious. What mistakes have you made and learned from?
PS – The idea for this blog came from another blog. Thonie Hevron, writes police procedural mysteries and tackled this subject in her blog Just the Facts, Ma’am