Now that two of my books have been published and a third is on the way, (Second Wind Publishing will be releasing Daughter Am I in August) I don’t feel I have the right to complain about anything — I’ve achieved something that many people only dream of. But I’m going to complain anyway. Or at least state my truth very emphatically. I do not like to proof my books. By the time I get to the proofing/copyediting stage, I have written, rewritten, and edited the manuscript so many times that I find it almost impossible to focus on what is there rather than what I think is there. I also have a little voice in the back of my head whispering that if the story is riveting, if the writing is good, if the characters are real and sympathetic, a mistake or two doesn’t matter.
Perhaps not, but . . .
The other day I was reading a book by an established author, and I came across this line: They were heroine smugglers. Um . . . yeah. Can’t you just see it? Men in enveloping black capes carting dozens of young women in antebellum costumes over the border during the dark of night. Of course, if the heroines were true heroines, they would have heroically rescued themselves, in which case they would not be smuggled, hence there could be no heroine smugglers.
I admit that I’m being silly, but the point is that a mistake or two does matter. (At least one slipped by me in More Deaths Than One, but it is truly difficult to spot and I intend to get it corrected.) So I will grit my teeth, gird my loins, clench my jaw, prepare for battle, and finish proofing Daughter Am I.
For those of you who are going through the same torment, or will be going through it, here are a few tips that I’ve gleaned along the way:
Go slowly and carefully. Use a ruler or your fingers to mark the lines of print and to keep your gaze from sliding down the page. Check to see that hyphenated words at the end of the line are hyphenated properly. You might also try working from back to front like many professional copyeditors do to keep from getting involved in the story, which, surprisingly, does happen even when it’s your book that you’ve read and reread a hundred times.
Feel free to add your own tips to my list. I’ll be glad of any suggestions to make sure I don’t end up with heroine smugglers or aroused geese. Yep, aroused geese was another phrase in the same book. It might be grammatically correct, but idiomatically . . . let’s just say I don’t even want to know what those geese were up to.