How many times did you re-read your book before publishing? In the “old” days, a typed manuscript would head out to an editor/publisher after the author had reprinted maybe half a dozen times. Probably at least one person read this manuscript and made their own changes and it might have even been more than one person. In the age of desktop publishing and self-publishing electronic versions of books, I wonder how much editing takes place beforehand?
Sure there are still dozens of hard cover publishing houses but there are millions of self-published book on Amazon Kindle alone. I got interested in cozy mysteries because they appeal to my sensitivities, ADHD, and need to get away from stress and tension at the end of the day. They are quick reading, no sex or violence (except for the occasional murdered person that the main character stumbles upon), and usually not too complicated, which is in their favor, in my opinion. You will not be lacking if you search for cozy mysteries and mystery series on Kindle. Unfortunately, I’ve found more than a few authors who are more interested in getting lots of product out there quickly and seem to forgo the editing part of the writing process.
I’m guilty of being one of these. I started writing my cozy novella at the beginning of November. By the middle of December, I decided it wasn’t going to be a novel as I had run out of steam so I tried for between 30,000 and 35,000 words. I was able to wrap the story up at 35,000 words and had re-read for continuity and plot at least twice by this time. But that’s not the end of the story.
I’m a pretty good editor. I majored in communication studies and worked on school newspapers through high school and college. For 25 years, I took jobs where I created company newsletters or at least contributed regularly, I edited technical reports for publication, and also quite often was the person who composed all the business correspondence in my capacity as office manager. I was also a middle school English teacher for 15 years. However, when it came to my own novella, I rushed the self-publication and it definitely wasn’t ready.
By December 31, I was done mentally with this writing project. I uploaded to Amazon Kindle and forgot about it. Then, one day, on one of my Facebook writing groups, someone posted a link to an article from a website called Lit Reactor. This article talked about changing your “thinking” verbs to “action” verbs. It made a lot of sense to me and actually gave me something concrete rather than something abstract I could work on. I got busy going through my already uploaded novella and lo and behold! I discovered not a few errors that had slipped through but a whole shitload (pardon my French).
It took me two days to re-read the whole book again (35,000 words) and fix stuff. I not only fixed spelling errors that had slipped through but also awkward sentence structures, and those nasty thought verbs. I was amazed, and not in a good way, at how much I actually changed. This was about 15 days after publishing the first time. I don’t know if Amazon will send updated copies to those who’ve already purchased the book but I hope so.
Moral of the story: Don’t be in a hurry to publish. Your readers will thank you and more importantly, you won’t be embarrassed as an author. It’s hard enough putting yourself out there, be the best you can be when you do.