A poem is never finished, only abandoned.--Paul Valery
The same can easily be said of novels and blogs, or almost any written endeavor. That one sentence could have been written better. How did that typo make it into the manuscript after all those proof readings? My answer is simple. I’m too close to the subject matter. I know what I intended to write, so that is how I read the segment. Thankfully, my cadre of volunteer proofreaders is excellent. They are under orders to make the pages bleed red ink, and they do. They are brutal with their recommendations. Mistakes, however, still surface, like an obstinate poo surfing the eddies in the toilet bowl. Want proof? I received a message from Clayton Diggs in regard to a couple blog postings: “Dude, I like your blog! Check for typos: ‘There maybe some interest’ should read ‘There may be...’. Also, ‘I must read’ = ‘A must read.’ I reviewed the blogs, and he was right. The changes were made, the blogs reposted.
Diggs is a stranger to me beyond his tweets, and this translates to him taking a significant risk in contacting me. Not everyone enjoys having their mistakes pointed out, particularly those made in a public forum. (I appreciate the manner in which he handled the matter.) He had no idea how I’d react, so I hope he is as pleased with me as I am with him.
With the upcoming release of Shadows Beyond the Flames and Other Stories, I will be placed in a situation in which I have less control over who reads the collection of shorts. The future readers will find mistakes. It’s unavoidable. Take a look at your shelves if you want proof. Pick up your favorite book (I’m reaching for It), and flip through the pages. You are guaranteed to find at minimum one typo and a sloppy sentence or two. Chances are, the book you picked up was written by an established writer who went through the traditional publishing process. These books we are holding have been picked apart by the writers, their cadre of proof readers, agents, editors, and typesetters. They did a marvelous job. The book looks great, feels important, and, in a few years, will smell great. Who is to blame for the grammatical errors, plot holes, and sloppy sentences? Fault lies with no one but the author. This is true even when the error is unintentionally inserted during the typesetting. After all, it's the writer's name on the book cover, not the typesetter's. Errors in publication must be dealt with, so let’s get started.
The editing never ends. Misspelled words and other typos were found as my wife and I worked on formatting Shadows Beyond the Flames, giving us a chance to make last minute corrections. I’m sure there are more to be found by fresh eyes. That’s where you, the readers, come in. Like school text books, I’m open for business when readers report errors. Being an independent writer/publisher, I can afford to include the corrections in following editions. This is a good thing! Nothing frustrates me more than spotting an error in a big name author’s novel, especially when the book went to press ten times, or made it to an illustrated anniversary edition. The publishing industry knows it is cheaper to leave the typos in place rather than typeset the novel yet again. Independent publishers have more wiggle room in this regard (all due to technology). The errors can be fixed. That misplaced comma must be removed, and there corrected to they’re. “The king sits upon a thrown until he his throne down by his subjects. . .” Wait! Reverse that! Such typos can be the kiss of death for independent writers/publishers since they carry the stench of hack, amauture, dilettante--whether deserved or not.
Do I have a big ego? No! It’s HUGE! And it has to be if I’m going to tell readers to drop that lovely cash for my book. Yet I’m grounded enough to know I’m not Midas on the keyboard. (Well . . . not all the time.) I have no choice but to accept and seek criticism if I hope to grow as a writer. I may politely disagree but not until I take a look at the writing in question. As an independent writer, I don’t have the years of experience and knowledge contained within the name of that publishing company printed on the spine of the book you grabbed. I have myself, a cadre of proof readers, and people like Clayton Diggs who is willing to give a fellow a hand without expecting anything in return. (Please do not take my statements to mean Mr. Diggs is available to proofread unsolicited manuscripts.)
As the release of “Shadows Beyond the Flames” approaches, work is underway on my website. We (that is the royal we because I’m a royal pain) are constructing a forum where readers will be able to identify the poop that made its way into publication. Those recommendations, if agreed upon, will find their way into the second edition. I also give credit where credit is due. Participants in the forum will find their name in the acknowledgments after every nugget of poop has been gathered and flushed for a cleaner second edition.
My job is to provide my readers with entertaining stories. Mistakes tend to rip readers out of the story, forcing them to puzzle out the writer’s intention. I’d rather keep you, the reader, engaged in the story rather than reviewing your knowledge of literature as your eyes pass over a “whether” that should have been “weather.” I’m certain those instance can be eliminated with your help.
Thank you for your forthcoming criticism.
To learn more about J. M. Tresaugue visit: http://jmtresauguebooks.webs.com/
To Learn more about Clayton Diggs visit: http://claytondiggs.com/