I actually finished writing my book in January, 2022. Following that, I worked with a professional editor to get it cleaned up. I learned a lot from her and it felt almost like I rewrote the book. Nothing significant in the story changed but a lot of things needed to be cleaned up, she helped make sure the “voice” was consistent through and through. She coaxed me to be more descriptive in a lot of places. As she said, the reader needs to feel, smell, taste what your characters are experiencing. It was a very worthwhile exercise and my book is better for it. The final thing she did was to re-read and proof it for grammatical errors and other miscellaneous details to be cleaned up. She found a lot to fix.
So, the book was then clean and ready for print, right? Well, I did print some copies that are referred to as ARC’s, Advance Reader Copies. I think I sent out about 6 copies to people who told me that they would read the book and write a review for me. I also gave copies to my siblings to read and give me verbal feedback. I will talk a bit about the reviews in another blog.
...everyone who read the ARC identified corrections that needed to be made.
I was totally amazed that almost everyone who read the ARC identified corrections that needed to be made. Some grammatical and a couple of glaring ones where I used wrong names, etc. They were all different! So, I made all those changes in the text. Also, during that time, my book designer and I re-did the book cover. My publishing coach told me the initial one was too amateurish.
New cover, indeed, much better, and all of the manuscript corrections were made. So, time for a new print. I ordered a few test prints to look over before I ordered books for a book signing that is scheduled for April 1. Got the test print. Cover looks great. Barb and I made a quick trip to Tucson to attend a book festival there. On the way home, as we drove, we took the time to read the book out loud to each other.
I was floored! We found 15 edits that needed to be made. A few unclear sentences, a spelling error, a consistency issue relating to a back story change I had made to a character in one place but failed to make and adjustment elsewhere to line up. In addition, there was a layout issue in the back of the book that created a less than optimal look on some pages. Those changes have now been made and the final book order has been placed for books ready to sell.
It wasn’t until we actually read it aloud that some of the things jumped out at me.
I wish I was fully confident that the manuscript is now perfect. How could I be? All those eyes looking at the book and still finding errors at the eleventh hour! One thing that I have learned from this is that when you write the book, and even when you edit the book, you spend so much time looking at the text that it is hard to read through it for details. You know it so well that your mind just flows over the text and everything looks right. It wasn’t until we actually read it aloud that some of the things jumped out at me. Obviously, upon completion of my next book, I will do that reading out loud exercise before the Advance Reader Copy is printed.
When I sat down to write, all I thought about was creating an entertaining story.I really didn’t know what to expect with regard to all of the other points in the process of preparing it for a final printing.It has been a great learning experience. I will do some things differently the next time around, now that my eyes have been opened. For now, though, my focus is preparing for the release and doing research for my next book.