I was thrilled this weekend to receive the “final”pre-printing manuscript of my novel, Autumn Colors, for review and approval. The next step would take it to the printer and the book – review copies, at least – would be available at last. I felt like I had been at this for so very long, with no fewer than five readings and editings since last August when the book was accepted for publication. After all those readings, I thought, how could there be anything left to correct? Surely this would be a slam dunk. I’d go through the ritual of reading it (again) over the weekend and be able to send off my signed approval on Monday.
Alas, I learned otherwise. It’s amazing that a book could be read that many times and anything could be left unnoticed. But there they were, those three mistakes. I debated whether to bother changing them – maybe my readers wouldn’t notice. But they haunted my sleep last night. Yes, readers – and worse, critical reviewers – would notice the two slips from third person to first person, holdovers from the very first version of the novel, which was written in first person. And there was that errant paragraph that “slipped” two paragraphs out of place, probably due to a cut and paste during the cutting that took place to reduce the word count. Did it really make a difference? Well, you tell me. The errant paragraph referred to the main character’s spring semester in college, but was placed in the middle of the summer vacation action. The reader would be distracted, at the very least, confused, and possibly annoyed at the dissonance.
And so I felt compelled to communicate these corrections to the publisher, knowing the flow of the process would be disrupted or at least slowed. I so hoped for an early fall release, to take advantage of the seasonal connection with the novel’s title. But before release we need 3-4 months for the review copies to be distributed, with the hope of obtaining some good and influential reviews to help with the book’s promotion and chances of success. Depending on the turnaround time for the corrections and the time it takes for printing, we’re looking now at a mid- to late fall release, and that’s if all goes smoothly. We’re getting perilously close to the holiday season and its associated releases by much larger publishers.
This has been quite a learning process. I always wondered why publishers’ guidelines would talk about 15-24 months from acceptance to release. I was pleased that my publisher boasted 9-12 months. I thought that meant to release date, but it really meant to the date of printing, and the extra pre-release months have to be added to that. There’s really no way to hurry the process. And considering I found mistakes even after five previous edits, I guess I wouldn’t want to.