Recently I received a review stating that there were mistakes in my novel that affected the person’s reading experience. Of course I was sad at first, then I became confused. I know I’ve done extensive edits on my novel, so how could there be any errors? I asked the reviewer to elaborate on their complaints… and guess what? It turned out that they were right. I had been so proud of the book, that I failed to notice some of the mistakes that were still there.
In a way, that review was the slap in the face I needed to wake up and realise that my book wasn’t as perfect as I thought it might be. With only two weeks left until the release date, I had to hurry and salvage the situation.
However, while some mistakes are definitely unforgivable, I think I could be excused in some cases. I wrote Puppet Parade and had it edited two years ago, and at that time I thought it was perfect. But writers improve all the time, and things I thought were acceptable two years ago I would’ve been sure to eliminate at this time.
Why didn’t I review the book this year then? Well, actually, I did… sort of. When a writer reads their own book they don’t really focus on the words or ideas because they already know what’s going to happen, and that’s why they always need someone else to review it for them. Since I was on such a short deadline, I thought the best way to handle the situation was to treat the story as if it weren’t mine. I tackled it like I would tackle any other book on my editing desk.
That was difficult of course. I just couldn’t ignore that I’d written this book. I couldn’t help but smile at the funny parts or feel sad when bad things happened. I also felt a twinge of pride every time I came across something I thought was particularly clever. But I also winced when I saw my errors. I was horrified to think that I had nearly released this book to the public when it was still far from being edited to perfection.
The typos, the redundant phrases, the part I’d completely forgotten to re-insert at one point… oh my. I’m nearly mid-way through the book now, and I can honestly say that I’m pleased with how it is now. It’s more polished and refined, and that makes me happy.
So even though I was saddened by that review, I’m glad I received it, because if it weren’t for it I would’ve never given my book a second critical look before its publication. It’s better to receive one review calling me out on my mistakes rather than many.
The moral of this story? Don’t stop editing, seriously. Even if you got a professional editor to look over your story, I really recommend that you give it a second look before publishing it. Editors are human too, and they will occasionally miss out things that might be the difference between a 4 and a 5 star book.