If we were having coffee today we probably still wouldn’t be sitting at a table inside, but I’d be telling you about the upcoming anniversary.
No, silly, it’s not my wedding anniversary. July 1 is the publishing anniversary of my first novel, THE FEVER. It is hard to believe it has been five years. What was developed as a single story has turned into the Traces of Treasure Series … three books out now and more to come!
It is quite an astounding thing when a writer metamorphoses into an AUTHOR. For one thing, nothing can quite prepare you for the need to market yourself AS an author. You’ve been slaving away, tweaking sentences and paragraphs for years, coddling a mismatched set of letters into something that is hopefully legible to the teeming masses.
In my case, I had spent almost three years writing and revising THE FEVER before I submitted it to the small publisher Wings ePress at the suggestion of a fellow writer. After a polite nudging from the editor about a problem with the narrative (meaning there was just too darned much narrative), I spent another two months correcting that problem and actually changing a major part of the plot to accommodate changes I had made. Imagine my surprise when I received a contract along with the astounding revelation that they wanted to fast-track the book for publication in ONE MONTH.
This is the literary equivalent of throwing a child into the middle of the lake to teach swimming. Publishing requires a number of steps that must be followed in order and there are handoffs between author and editor along the way. Covers have to be designed and approved, minor editor tweaks need to be reviewed and sometimes discussed and finalized. Then the copyeditor cleans the whole thing up, after which the author gets the “almost” final copy. The galley. I need to go over every word in the entire book with a fine-toothed comb.
In subsequent books, I’ve had the luxury of a week to ten days to work on the galley. For this, my first book, I had just a few days. It involves painstakingly reading the book to find any tiny error that might have been missed. Sometimes a sentence has to be reworded to correct a spacing problem with justification. It is tedious because you are working from a PDF file, copying the offending line, then adding a corrected line with errors/corrections highlighted (at least with this publisher).
Once they make all the corrections they send you the final galley. I figured, “Well, that’s it. In a few days, I’ll have a book!”
Experience has taught me there are two problems here. First, checking EVERY SINGLE WORD in the book does not mean just the novel part of the book. It means the cover, the front matter, the title page, the copyright page … any manner shape or form of ink that appears between the covers right down to the biography and back page. The second problem arrives with the corrections. When the author gets that corrected galley, it must absolutely be checked that all the corrections have, in fact, been made. The problem? I did not know to do either of these things.
The book was published and I was making sales. Then I started to get a few polite emails pointing out some errors. Quite a few emails, actually. Familiar errors. Errors I was pretty sure I had caught. Some glaring and embarrassing errors too, like my name was misspelled on the title page and in the biography (this was my fault and I should have caught it on the galley but didn’t check either).
I bought the books to double-check against the corrections I submitted. NONE OF THEM had been done. Frantic, frustrating communications with the publisher followed and they couldn’t quite wrap their heads around the fact that they had uploaded the UNCORRECTED GALLEYS.
I was told, “This is the first time this has ever happened!” What the executive editor surmised was that she hadn’t saved the copy after making the corrections. More on this later. The corrections were all made and new editions of the book were uploaded, although for some reason most of the errors persisted on the Kindle edition for another two years. Publishers concentrate on the publication, not on the correction. Anyway, that was my first real lesson in publishing. If I had simply double-checked the corrections, most of that would have been avoided.
Oh, I mentioned, “more on this” … I recently completed the galley review of the upcoming fourth novel in the series, PENUMBRA. I poured over the galleys (every single word) and turned in quite a few corrections. I got the corrected galleys and proceeded to double-check. Uh-oh. Not a single change had been made. Yes, the current executive editor had done exactly the same thing, not saved the corrections. Like deja vu all over again! Oh, I’ve learned to triple and in some cases quadruple check the corrections. I’m happy to report that PENUMBRA is in excellent shape and I think it is my best book yet! It is due out in August.
I chalked it all up to inexperience on my part and what I call “Fenske Luck.” The celebrate this anniversary, I’m offering the Kindle edition of THE FEVER for FREE through this weekend! Go check it out, read the 38 reviews, and maybe grab a copy. I’ll admit, it is definitely a first novel … each subsequent novel gets better.
To get THE FEVER … click >>>—> HERE
Warning: it is addictive … you WILL want to read the next three!
Thomas Fenske lives in NC but he writes mostly about his home state of Texas!
You can find out more at http://thefensk.com