I recently received the advanced reading copy of my March 2017 thriller, Echoes of Terror. It has been a while since I read through the manuscript, and since I’m sending some copies out for review, I wanted to make sure there were no glaring errors. Actually, I didn’t want any errors, glaring or not, but, alas, I found one that created a domino effect.
Many of the chapters in Echoes of Terror start with a time/day indication, such as: 3:00 P.M., Thursday. The story itself takes place in less than thirty-six hours (except for the last chapter). It’s set in Skagway, Alaska, late June when it is light for almost twenty-four hours.
I’d read through more than half of the ARC when I found a glaring error. The previous time notation had been 11:30 P.M., Thursday. The next one should have been 2:15 A.M., Friday. A.M. because that chapter takes place two hours after midnight. But no, above the first paragraph of that chapter it said 2:15 P.M., Friday.
I went back to my edited (final edit, it says) manuscript and saw the time was correctly indicated. Somewhere along the publishing process the change was made. And, of course, once that time was changed to P.M. all of the following ones were also changed to P.M.
The reason I’m writing about this situation is to remind all of us (myself included) DON’T ASSUME. Just because there are no errors in the final edit doesn’t mean the printed book won’t have errors. Read through those galleys or advance reading copies. Read carefully.
I always see things at this stage that I wish I could change: a word I repeated too often, a sentence that could be rewritten so it would be more active, or something I’ve learned since submitting the manuscript that I wish I’d added. If a writer is working with a traditional publisher, those changes generally can’t be made at this stage, not unless the change is really necessary for the story and the writer is willing to pay for the changes. Most traditional contracts indicate errors the publisher makes will be corrected without charge and that a writer can make a small percentage of changes at this stage; however, it will cost the writer if those changes are over that percentage and are not the publishers fault. I also think a publisher wouldn’t be too happy if a writer did that too often at this stage of production. This is why publishers expect a polished piece at submission.
The advantage of self-publishing is the writer is the publisher, but even so, this is not the stage when you want to be making a lot of changes. Nevertheless, sometimes errors do slip by the editor and/or the writer. Most of the time the reader won’t notice or care; that is if the errors are minimal. It’s the glaring errors, the missing words or sentences, the changing of a character’s name or description, or an inconsistency in the time frame (as I discovered) that the writer should correct.
I know by the time a book reaches these final stages, I’ve read the story so many times I don’t want to see it again. It would be easy to simply set the ARC aside and let whatever is be, but don’t.
My words of warning for traditionally or independently published authors: Do one last CAREFUL read through before you give your final okay.