Dear family, friends, readers, in-laws, and outlaws…at long last, I have sent the third book in the Compass Crimes Series, West of Famous, off to the editor. While the book is not ready to send to production, allow me to celebrate the milestone of sending it off. This is moment of joy.
This euphoria will last until I see the red-marked blunders, typos, and questions on the pages. The manuscript will have so many red spots it will resemble the crime scene of a knife fight. I’ll groan and laugh and wonder how I misplaced a character or a clue, but ultimately, the gift of a great editor is absolute unblinking candor. Like the friend who steps on the toilet paper trailing from your shoe.
Better to fix the problems long before the book goes to print.
I pride myself on my knowledge of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. And yet, I would not, should not, and could not edit my own manuscript. After reading these sentences so many times, I read what I believe is on the page and not what is actually on the page. I know what I meant. It’s clear to me, but the fresh eyes of the editor will see when I’ve missed the mark.
Editors don’t suffer from multiple-draft blindness. They see the manuscript with fresh, critical eyes. They mark the places that make them pause and reread because the prose isn’t clear enough. They excise wordiness, redundancies, and vagueness. They address weak scene transitions and word choice. They shake the story’s structure until the cracks appear.
When the reader has to read a passage twice to understand it, the magic is broken. The reader has been reminded of reading a story instead of being in the story.
Willing Suspension of Disbelief
As a reader, I want to experience the world of the story whether it’s Hogwarts or the battle of Culloden. Misspellings, errors of fact, and such push me out of the story and remind me I’m just reading. Unless it’s satire, I reject the story if a Roman Centurion is wearing a watch. The author might as well have him holding an iPhone or singing rap.
Details matter. Readers notice if a famous street is misspelled or a basic law of physics is violated. It’s called the willing suspension of disbelief when the reader goes along with talking rabbits or a character exhibiting superpowers. Science Fiction readers have come to reluctantly accept characters walking around on a ship in space, but they prefer them to float. If the ship rotates to create an artificial gravity through centrifugal force, then okay, rock on.
Having achieved this milestone in the publication process, I’m going to celebrate with a glass of wine, a massive bowl of popcorn to binge-watch a season of Outlander. Don’t judge me. I’ve pulled two late nights and one all-nighter to make this deadline. I have a brief window of rest before more edits and revisions. Then formatting and cover art. And production and publicity and marketing. All so the book can be released in February 2019. Yeah. Publishing a book is not for sprinters. Welcome to the marathon.
Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for your help in choosing cover art to match the story. Please be patient and know that I’m running as fast as I can through this process to publish my best work.