You can’t go wrong with an article like this one by Martha Carlson-Bradley at Editing Queries. I published 3 books without the help of an editor and lived to regret it. I found an editor (a good one, by the way – Jenny Quinlan at Historical Editorial), but I didn’t have access to all the tips given here. With my editor’s help, I revisited the first three, and her editing was invaluable for numbers 4 and 5. My advice is to copy this. Print it. WARNING: Do not, under ANY circumstance, publish without finding a good editor. It’s just as important as your cover, maybe moreso.
I have a confession to make. I found myself in a pickle. Now, I like pickles, as a rule, but not this pickle. At the end of last year, my editor finished with the manuscript for Pictures for Maddie and I was happy with the outcome. The holidays were upon us and I knew I couldn’t do anything until the new year.
The new year came and I got sick. I get sick every January like clockwork. So, while I was huddling in my recliner with a warm blanket, tissues, thermometer, cough syrup, and comfort food, I did something a writer should NEVER do with a completed manuscript.
I started tinkering with it.
I shouldn’t have done it, I know, but there were things I felt needed showing rather than telling. So I tinkered away. I got well. It lasted two weeks. Then, in February, I got hit with round 2. There I was, trapped in my recliner again, feeling worse than I had in January. This time, I lost my voice. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to my family. Instead of working on a new project, I went back to Pictures for Maddie.
I tinkered with it some more.
By the time May rolled around, my deadline for the 31st was counting down. So, in my usual way, I began the final formatting and preparation for the book launch. One week into the month, I got sick again. (I’m beginning to think this isn’t my year.) I pushed hard to get everything ready for the book launch and came in just under the wire. It was time to celebrate.
Pictures for Maddie will be the first book to be offered in print. It’s shorter than the other four and seemed like the most logical book to start with. And that, dear reader, is where the pickle comes in. As I began to place the text into the template, I began to find mistakes. None were left by my editor. All of them were in the text I had added when I tinkered with the manuscript.
My heart sank. The book was already on Amazon and Smashwords and its distribution partners. Now I’m finding mistakes. Not serious mistakes, just enough to make a discerning reader wonder why my editor and I are incapable of finding mistakes.
What have I learned from this fiasco? Well, for starters, I shouldn’t tinker with finished manuscripts, especially when I’m sick. My editor is very good at what she does and I don’t want anyone thinking she doesn’t perform her job well. I owe her a HUGE apology. I also owe all my readers an apology. The current mistakes are my fault. Tinkering in and of itself isn’t bad, but next time, I should let my editor have a go at it before I release it. And that is the end of the story, dear reader.