Editing a manuscript is a necessary evil. From the moment I type the first word on the screen I know I’m going to have to make changes along the way. There are going to be plot changes and changes in dialogue and sometimes I even change a character’s name. And once I finish typing and editing, my critique partners get a crack at it.
After my critique partners make suggestions/corrections, I make more changes. And this is all before the book ever lands on an editor’s desk. Once the book reaches an editor, it’s likely to need at least three more revisions. And through all those changes, a writer has to be vigilant. One tiny change can wreak havoc on an entire manuscript. And those mistakes could very possibly escape notice until publication.
I must confess, I had two fabulous critique partners on OUT OF THE DARKNESS. Amy Corwin and Jenna Black are both published authors. And both are good at what they write. With their input and advice, OUT OF THE DARKNESS underwent several revisions. And I didn’t always send the revised chapters back to my partners for a second read if I was pleased with the results.
My editor at The Wild Rose press also made editorial suggestions. And Lill is a fabulous editor. Because of her, OUT OF THE DARKNESS is a much better book. I was so pleased in fact, I assumed my book had no glaring errors.
I was wrong.
One of my secondary characters, Brit Travers, is a lawyer. Originally, Brit was a Carolina alumni. Carolina is in Chapel Hill. But I changed it to NC State. Then I decided I liked him better as a Carolina fan. And anyone who ever attended NC State would be appalled if I made a NC State alum a Carolina fan. So, I changed Brit’s school and made him a NC Central fan. Some Central alumni are still Carolina fans.
This one change actually made more sense for my lawyer character because NCCU has an excellent law program. And Brit is a lawyer.
There was only one problem. When I changed Brit from a UNC alumni to an NC State alumni, I changed the towns from Chapel Hill to Raleigh. But when I changed him from a NC State alumni to an NC Central alumni, I somehow missed changing the town to Durham! What an idiot! NC Central is in Durham. And I never caught the mistake.
My editor, Lill lives in Colorado. I’m sure she assumed that living in NC, I’d know where the freaking college was. So, she never questioned it. And my book went to print with this huge, glaring mistake.
I’ve had a couple of great reviews but the reviewers didn’t catch my mistake. So, I still didn’t know it was there.
Dozens of my friends and family have read the book, and not one of them have caught the mistake. Or if they did, they failed to mention it to me. Maybe because they know how anal and obsessive I am and they knew it would drive me crazy because, well, it’s too freaking late to fix the problem!
But one old friend and former co-worker read the book. She does not like vampire books but said she enjoyed OUT OF THE DARKNESS. Which, coming from such an avid reader, was a huge compliment. Then, she said there was a big mistake in the book. She pointed out the horrible fact that I placed NC Central in Raleigh instead of Durham.
Well, I thought she was horribly mistaken. Or had lost her reading comprehension skills or something. There’s no way I would have made such a stupid mistake. I KNOW where NC Central is located. My stupid TOM TOM is always trying to send me in that direction to get to interstate 40 when it is much faster and closer from my house to go down 70 and hit Miami Boulevard. But the fact that she mentioned such a mistake bothered me enough that I went back to the original manuscript to check.
An sure enough, there it was. I had changed Brit’s school but not the town.
I know how I made the mistake. But I don’t know why I didn’t catch it during the first round of edits with TWRP or when I was proofing the Mock Galley and Final Galley. How did it escape my notice?
Maybe I read what I thought I wrote instead of the actual words.
I think there comes a time when every writer is just plain sick and tired of their story. They’ve read it and re-read it so many times they are no longer seeing the words on the page, but the words in their head.
I started OUT OF THE DARKNESS in 2005. And it went through two separate rounds of revision letters with two different editors at a NY publishing house before final rejection. So, by the time Lill got it at The Wild Rose Press, I was already sick of editing and revising the story. I was done. But having her tell me she was interested in publishing it revitalized me.
Having her send edits, depressed me. But then we made it to the final galley and I was so happy with the few changes she suggested and how much better the story read after implementing them, I declined the final read-through of the Final Galley. I even joked to Lill that I’d probably just find yet another mistake if I read the freaking thing one more time.
I should have read it that one more time. Maybe then I would have caught my mistake.
So, now, I offer my apologies to all NCCU students or alumni who read OUT OF THE DARKNESS.
Yes, I know where your school is located. I just made a stupid mistake. And I’ve learned my lesson well.