“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.”
– William Faulkner
What do you do when you’re going over the galley’s of your soon to be released book, and you’re seeing all sorts of mistakes? And not just any mistakes, but rookie mistakes. Things like repeated words, or stilted sentences – things you know you could fix easily, if only you’d noticed them earlier. Or if you were allowed to fix them now.
By ‘allowed to’, I mean just that.
If you think that when you first write The End, that you’re done writing your book, then you are kidding yourself. If you think you’re done after you’re done any revisions you get, you’re mistaken. If you think you’re done after you go over the line edits…. well, you get the idea.
This is something no one prepared me for. I’m pretty darn new to this publishing gig. I started writing 7 years ago, and while I was lucky enough to have starting selling what I wrote 6.5 years ago, I’m still a babe making rookie mistakes. My publisher is very strict about the fact that when I get my galley’s this is for MINOR CHANGES ONLY. Ones that are only absolutely necessary. But just because *I* think they’re absolutely necessary, will they? Because they reserve the right to ignore my corrections. And sometimes, they do.
You’d think that by the time I’m looking at galley’s that I’d have been over it enough to have it perfect..right? Uhmm No. Why not? Because I’m constantly striving to make things better, and the more I write, the more I learn. And the more I learn, the more mistakes I see in what I’ve written in the past. And when writing for a New York print publisher, the galleys tend to come anywhere from 6 months to a year after I’ve finished the first draft of the novel. So, I’ve learned things since then..or at least I think I have. LOL
However, there does come a time when it becomes clear that the book is no longer just MY book, but it has become OUR book. Sure, my name goes on it. And when there are grammar mistakes and typos still in it, I’m the one who gets the reader /reviewer emails saying “what’s up with that?” But, contrary to popular belief, I, the author, do not always get the last word on what gets fixed/tweaked. Which is probably a good thing, because I’m sure editors have learned that without deadlines, or limits, we would just keep tweaking and rewriting every story, because a good author is always striving to make things better…(and that can lead to the problem of over-editing, which is a whole ‘nother post) And while I may have birthed the characters and written their story, I’m no longer the only person who’s put work into it.
This was a hard lesson for me. No one ever warned me that there would be a time when my corrections/wishes could get ignored. And as someone who DID take other authors advice of not reading my books again once they were in print, it took me a while to realize it. So I’m telling you now. Focus on your edits when you have the chance, and get them right. Double check your line edits from the copy editor, and when the galleys come…be sure to go over them with a fine-tooth comb. But most of all… accept that you will almost always find things you want to correct, and that’s okay, because a perfect story is not always a good story, and a good story is not always perfect.