Does the editing ever end?

Is there such a thing as a perfect book? I’m not talking about the quality of the content or the fluid beauty of the prose but the nuts and bolts accuracy of the punctuation, spelling and grammar, as well as the consistency of information within the story. I’m reading a book by a NY Times best-selling author; one who has had numerous books published. Less than fifty pages into the book, the author has his character stand up and begin pacing. Two paragraphs later, he has her get up from her seat again. I read the passage three times, to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I wasn’t. How did that mistake get through the many layers of people responsible for catching errors such as that?

On Thursday, I received the digital proof of “Harvest of the Heart”. The excitement of the occasion was already muted by the fact that I wouldn’t be able to just breeze through it and zip it right back like I had hoped to do. Three publishing/editing professionals had read the manuscript before it was submitted, in addition to the countless times I’ve worked through it. Despite all this, my son Phil found several errors that I simply could not leave in place. Now the digital proof will need to be revised and that will delay my release date at least five to seven days. Once, I had high hopes of having the book “out there” in time for the Christmas season. That hope is definitely at risk.

When he e-mailed me, I thought “No way!” I was disappointed when I found he was right about those mistakes and devastated when I realized that I was, once again, required to go through my story with a fine tooth comb. This time I had to pray that the comb wasn’t missing some teeth, as it obviously had on so many previous read-throughs. I discovered sixty-two errors or places where I felt my prose was lacking the smoothness and quality of the rest of the writing. But a major problem is, even though I wrote it and have read it dozens of times, I still find myself caught up in the story. From one point of view, this is probably a good thing, but it sure doesn’t help when I’m trying to edit. And, apparently, the same thing happened to professionals who should know better.

Even now, I am scared to death that I’ll get an e-mail someday after the release that reads “Do you know that on page — you really messed up!” It is even worse that this manuscript is the one that went to numerous reviewers in order to have some reviews available for my launch. I wonder if any have started reading it yet?

The only consolation I have is that I’m beginning to believe that the perfect book does not exist. It is hubris of the highest degree to think that I could achieve this in my first time out of the blocks.

5 Comments

Filed under Publishing and Marketing, Writing

5 responses to “Does the editing ever end?

  1. You are being too hard on yourself. While I am no grammar expert, I do get annoyed when reading articles, either in print or on the internet, with blatant errors. I did not notice any obvious errors in your book, here or there I may have needed to reread something but your story was so engaging that I was reading really fast. I think if a book isn’t capturing the reader’s interest errors may be more obvious but your book doesn’t have that problem! I know I have said it before but I REALLY thoroughly enjoyed your book, even if you think it had 62 errors!!

  2. Walton Whittaker

    The hardest part of writing is the editing, re-editing and editing again. That’s why it is left to other people.Writers seldom make good editors. As far as a “perfect” book is concerned, forget it! No matter how carefully you check the spelling and grammar, there will always be mistakes. The same is true in all art forms. Some artists even purposefully leave mistakes on their canvas. Nature makes frequent “mistakes”, and if SHE does, what chance do poor members of the human race have?

  3. I worked for years as a copy editor in daily newspapers and editing, catching mistakes and accuracy is an art. It is difficult to edit your own work because of your attachment to it and you aren’t seeing it with fresh eyes.

    I believe the age of the Internet has made it harder. There is such a rush to get copy out there quickly and quite honestly, less value is placed on accuracy.

    On the positive side — your knowledge and commitment to perfection is much higher than the average person’s. Few people will notice the things that make you fret in your manuscript; most people aren’t that detail-oriented..

    That said, I am sure the book will be great. Place your clear intentions in the light and God’s hands, and all will turn out well.
    I can’t wait to read it and wish you much success!
    All the best,
    Danica

    • Thank you! I appreciate your good wishes. I know self-editing is a challenge, which is why I didn’t rely on myself. And my post wasn’t meant to be critical of the professionals who did work on my manuscript. It may be an impossible task to weed out every mistake. Just something to which I’ll have to adjust.

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