Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Learning the error of my ways on the path to publishing

Given that Coincidence is my first book, I'm new to all the intricacies of the publishing world. Many things I have learned along the way, but many things, I'm still learning...and I don't imagine the learning will stop anytime soon. I was very naive when it came to the whole process of getting published.  Actually, I probably still am about many things.

After months of writing my book and shopping around for agents and publishers, only to get rejection letter after rejection letter, I was finally offered a contract for publication.  I was thrilled!  "Yes, the whole world will see my beautiful creation!" (says naive Lesley). I never would have imagined that writing the book would actually be the easiest part of the whole process!   Well, it was.  No, folks, the path to publication and actually holding that beloved baby (a.k.a. your book) in your hands doesn't end with a publishing contract...oh no.  In fact, the journey has just begun. 

After you sign the contract, it's time for you and your publisher to prepare your novel for publication.  "Wait. What? But, my novel is perfect...it is ready for publication! I've spent countless, sleepless nights developing this perfectly polished, pulitzer worthy (I wish. Oh, how I flatter myself.) masterpiece!" My first error. Are you thinking something like that?  I was. If so, think again.   No your novel is not ready and be thankful that no publisher (good publisher, anyway) will print a novel just given to them without editing.  Oh, the editing...that torturous, glorious process of editing. 

Yes, next my friend, comes the editing.  "What? Editing? A piece of cake! Proofread and throw some commas in there.  Noooo problem!"  H-A H-A!  I laugh at you, former naive Lesley.  Another error. No, editing is much more than that.  Next, your book will go through the publisher's editing department.  And, it never hurts to develop a thick skin right about this time.  You will work with your assigned editor as he or she makes suggestions for changes to your perfect novel. Your editor has seen tons of books and goes through them in a very business-like manner.  They are busy people and they have no time to sugar coat changes to protect your feelings.  Nope, no sugar coating here.  Just prepare yourself as they make suggestions and comments as to what parts of your book (your baby) don't make sense.  They often don't say it as nice as that, either.  You may find yourself curled up under your covers, repeating something like this: "Why did I ever write this stupid book? Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" But, don't worry.  That's all part of the wonderful editing process.  Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for editors, especially those who edit first time authors such as myself.  They are incredibly patient and I have to insert my thanks to my editor, Joan, here. Because, God knows, she put up with a lot from me!

Okay, so the editor has gone through your book and made all the changes and suggestions and you've complied with these changes.  "So, we're done, right?"  Oh, how I wish that were all.  In fact, there is some more editing to do.  Yes, the changes have been made to your book and submitted, but now, it is time for the gallies.  The gallies are the last chance you have to go through your novel and correct any changes that were not picked up in that first tedious editing process.  This is usually reserved for simple grammatical and spelling errors--no big plot changes. About this time is when you start thinking something like this: "If I read this book one more time, I'm going to vomit!"  Yes, the book you were once so certain was perfect is enough to make you want to hurl just at the sight of it.  But, you will read it one more time and likely several more times after that.  I'd suggest investing in some Pepto. 

Now, you've spent hours reviewing and making corrections to your gallies and you've put together your errata list (list of corrections) to submit to your editor.  No more changes now. The next time you see your book, it will be an actual physical book.  This whole process takes months and much patience. "So, we're done, now right...right...RIGHT?!!!"  No way, Jose!  Now, it is time to market that beast!  But, we won't even talk about that right now, because that is a whole separate process.

When my book, Coincidence, finally came out, I was over the moon!  Of course, new to this whole thing, I expected a perfect, final copy.  After all, my editors and I spent hours changing, correcting, reading, and re-reading to make sure we had corrected everything there was to be corrected.  Or, so we thought. We did our best to make sure all the commas, periods and quotation marks were in the right place.  Everything was italicized as necessary and spelled correctly.  However, what I failed to realize in all my naivet√© was that we were all  human and therefore not perfect ourselves, so how did we expect the novel to turn out perfectly?  Another error of my ways.  We all have opinions of what is correct and what is incorrect and sometimes after going through four different editors with four different opinions, its no wonder many if not all books are printed with errors.

Once I began reading the final, printed version of Coincidence, I was shocked...appalled, in fact, to find errors, which I now know was a product of my publishing world ignorance.  I found missing periods, commas, and question marks, a few misspelled words, and a few periods and commas that decided to call the middle of a word home (i.e. Oh, ok.ay).  "Wait, mister apostrophe,  how did you get there?  That noun is not possesive! Get outta here!"  But, at this point, it is too late for mister apostrophe to go anywhere, because the book is printed and done. Oh, well. Those are just a few errors I stumbled on as I was reading the final version.  In fact, if you read Coincidence, and send me any errors you find, you may just win a prize.  I'm serious!  I don't know what the prize will be yet, but I'll think of something.

Actually, the errors are probably not as bad as they seem.  Since, I expected perfection (another error of my ways), I was disappointed. I realize, many readers will not even notice these minor errors.  Since there are no errors in the actual facts or content of the book, I'm happy enough.  In fact, I've learned through research and through actually being an avid reader of fiction, that errors in books are quite common. Plenty of spelling and grammatical errors find their way into printed books. Just check out this article here by Brenda Coulter in which she addresses romance novel errors.  Actually much to my surprise, I just discovered that Twilight has errors as well.  I've never read the Twilight books, but I'm more inclined to do so now just to see if I can find them.  It makes me feel better that a best-selling series has errors. Perhaps these minor errors add to the book reading experience?  Well, I'm hoping they do.
I've had an eye-opening experience on my path to publishing.  I've decided to embrace the error of my ways and of Coincidence and make some fun of it.  If you find errors in Coincidence, let me know by posting them in the comments section of this post and I'll enter you in a chance to win a prize, which will have to be determined.  But, it will be cool.  Also, if you know of other books with errors, put those in the comments, too...just to make me feel better :).

Until next tome...er, I mean, time,



  1. Hi Leslie,

    Nice post - As someone who went through the same exact process only about two months before you, I can still remember reading my editor's initial comments when I decided to check my Blackberry on the way to the bathroom at 3:00AM. Needless to say, I couldn't fall back asleep! And, like you, I found errors in my book after it was released and after reading it 100 times and being certain it was perfect. No one has thrown them in my face so far but I know they are there...At least you'll know what to expect for book #2 :)


    Just Friends With Benefits
    "Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Bastard"

  2. Hello Lesley, I attempted to "write a book" but never heard back from any of the publishing houses so I sorta gave up (my mistake)! But you have given me hope to try again! I think it would be interesting if you posted a small segment on how to publish a book here on your blog for people like me who want to but really don't even know where to begin! I've bought books on how to publish a book and still no word from anyone, not even a rejection letter, how sad is that!!!?? If you can or want to offer me any advice I have TONS of questions!! BTW: Congrats on being featured on FTLOB and I'm your latest follower on both your blogs! Thinking of checking out your book and looking for the errors so I can enter the contest! oh congrats on the book too! :)

  3. @CityGirlChic--Thanks so much for the follow and for checking out my blog here! I followed you today, too!! I'm happy to offer advice to you! I know how frustrating it can be to get published!! I was faced with close to 60 rejection letters before something came through. It really does take thick skin and persistance! Feel free to send me an email with any questions! LesRH80@hotmail.com. I'll post this on your blog, too in case you don't get over here to see this:)