It's not uncommon to find mistakes, often really obvious ones, even in books by big-name authors with deep-pocketed publishers. I'm sure you've found your share as well, and I can take the tiniest bit of comfort from that experience when I spot errors in my own work. But in the interest of eliminating as many errors as possible, I'm announcing a forthcoming recruitment drive to get more eyes on my books before they hit the market...
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It seems that no matter how many sets of eyes you get on a manuscript, something always manages to slip through the cracks of an editor or proofreader's attention, a fact that was brought home to me when I stumbled across a few such niggling errors when reviewing the proof copies for the print edition of Seven.
(For the record, the mistakes were a "where/wear" swap, one instance of extra spaces around an em-dash when all of the others had been adjusted to have no spaces, and a period that had a space before and after it at the end of a sentence...)
I'm not sure if I spotted those errors because I had a distance of months from my last read through the book or whether it was seeing it in a new form, namely a printed, trade paperback book rather than a computer print-out or on a screen. But the experience brought home that it can't hurt to have more eyes on my words prior to sharing them with the world at large.
I'm also loathe to entrust "story decisions" to a single editor (at least until I find, or can afford, the right editor), and would instead prefer to place my trust in the wisdom of a crowd of readers/editors.
So where am I headed with all of this?
Well, I currently use a (very) small crew of beta & proof readers as part of my editorial process, but would like to expand that operation.
And what does that mean to the reader of this post and my books in general?
Depends. Are you willing to take a look at a manuscript that's not quite fully baked, to take a peek behind the curtain and see the wizard furiously punching buttons and pulling levers? Do you have the type of analytical mind that zeroes in on inconsistencies and continuity problems in a story? Does the thought of a weak passage of prose or a bogged-down plot make you want to tell the author about it?
If you've answered "yes" to any of the above, you might be a good candidate to join my Beta Brigade.
Beta Brigade? Seriously?
Yup. I'm going to be actively recruiting volunteers who want to help make my books the best they can be by digging into the half-formed guts of my precious little creations, starting with my forthcoming second novel.
Are grammar, spelling, and general nit-picking more your thing? I'll need you as well, but not until the next stage in the editing process. After I've put some polish on the book with my Beta Brigade and current editorial team, I'd also like a team of proofreaders, a Proof Patrol if you will, to read Advance Release Copies (ARCs) in the weeks before publication to catch anything that may have slipped through the cracks.
But what's in it for these volunteers?
Besides my undying gratitude and the satisfaction of helping to make a story the best it can be? How about a free ebook copy of any book you work on? I expect that the rewards will increase for these readers down the road, but at the moment that's all I've got on the table.
Keep your eyes peeled for an announcement in the coming week or so about a sign-up form for both the Beta Brigade and Proof Patrol. Or just bookmark this post and check back in about a week as I'll post a link to the sign-up page when it's ready to go live.
UPDATE: The sign-up page is now live. If you're interested, apply within.