Well, it’s been a while, to say the least. Since I last posted on this blog a lot happened in the world, and not all of it for the better, but that’s a subject for another time and place.
Instead I want to focus on what I discovered upon rereading the first edition of my science fiction short story book several years after publication. I can’t say that I was terribly happy with what I found–starting with a glaring grammatical error on the very first page of the book!
It wasn’t to be the last, either. Thanks to Microsoft Word’s spellchecker, spelling mistakes weren’t an issue, but there were plenty of other problems–grammatical errors, duplicate words, missing words, clunky phrases, and even a number of sentences I had somehow left only half-edited.
That’s not to say it was a complete disaster, but even one error every five to ten pages is a lot when you’re talking about published writing. When was the last time you spotted more than one or two mistakes in a full length professionally published novel?
Perhaps the standard isn’t quite so high for low-cost self-published work, but readers aren’t going to tolerate tripping over obvious mistakes and clunky writing for very long before they move onto something else.
To be honest, given how much time and effort I had put into editing the book, I was quite surprised by how many glaring mistakes I found. I must have read and reread those short stories a couple of dozen times at least, making sure to go over each one again if I made more than a few minor changes to it. So how were there still so many mistakes in there?
Then I realized — even though I had read the stories many times, at some point I had started reading only what I thought was on the page, and not what was actually there. I had become so familiar with the stories that my mind was no longer able to focus on the words on the page. I was skimming, and wasn’t even reading the mistakes as I glossed over them.
I decided there and then I needed to publish a second edition of the book, for my own peace of mind if nothing else. But how would I avoid falling into the same trap as last time? It’s not as though I had forgotten the stories, even though several years had passed. Well, stay tuned, and you’ll find out.