Crossing the T’s and Dotting the I’s

When I sent what I believed to be a clean, mistake-free copy of my manuscript to a Ritchie Boy who had promised to write me a review, I was amazed when he found not only some German language that needed correction, but a few other small errors.

I conveyed my distress to my editor, and she sent me the following discouraging reply. “We will find more errors in the PDF and more errors in the paperback proof and then cringe when we find errors in the real book. I’m such a perfectionist, it doesn’t comfort me to know that even traditional publishers who use 20 different people for editing/reading/proofing, know there is a 10% margin of error.”

This has certainly been true. When the PDF (a kind of digital snapshot of the inside of the finished book) was completed, my editor and I both proofed it carefully several times. It flew back and forth between us with virtual sticky notes about typos, punctuation, spelling errors, and syntax. It is amazing how little things you did not see the previous read-through suddenly appear and jump off the page the next time.

Some things like double periods at the end of a sentence are understandably easy to miss—they are tiny and almost invisible when the reader is concentrating on checking words. But other flaws make the proofreader wonder if the page is alive and morphing between readings. During one reading, my editor found, among other things, one of the character names spelled wrong in a paragraph where the same name was correctly spelled two other times. A p had been used instead of a b to turn Albert, for one instant, into Alpert. She also found where a word that should have been “eaves” was typed as “eves.” Then on the next read through I found the same error (eves when it should have been eaves) again five chapters further on.

Lorraine, my number one editor, is vigilant. She and I agree we want Immigrant Soldier to be the best it can be. Consequently, because a new pair of eyes can be invaluable, I have enlisted the help of a second editor, one of my earlier Beta-readers, to do a proofread of the PDF. This editor has been following my blogs and continues to be supportive. When I asked her if she would do a copy edit for me, she said yes.

In an e-mail to me she wrote, “Every time you order a change, however slight, it creates an opportunity for something else to go wrong. . . . All kinds of weird things can happen. There is an old saying among proofreaders: Mistakery loves company. Wherever there is one mistake, there is an elevated likelihood of another lurking close by, simply because of how the brain works—fix and move on.” How true this is!

Lorraine and I have worked very hard to make the PDF as perfect as we can. It will be interesting to see what a pair of “fresh eyes” might yet find.

Lorraine Fico-White, my primary editor –

Janet Long, our “fresh eyes” editor –


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