Getting books right first time

Along with poor sales and critical reviews, one of the setbacks that authors may encounter is the discovery of mistakes in books that have already been published. I’ve heard it said that there’s no such thing as a perfect manuscript, which is probably true. I try to pick up all the errors in my own books before publishing them but when I recently reread three of my earlier ones, in preparation for speaking on the historical crime panel at the Rotorua Noir festival back in January, realised I had failed. I found mistakes in all of them – small mistakes, maybe ones that most readers would never notice, but they annoyed me and I eventually decided I must put them right. At the same time I decided to do some rebranding, changing the cover images on Amazon and adding a new logo.

Overcliff logo HQ

Making these changes was only possible at all because the books had been published independently rather than traditionally. Even so, the process was fairly tedious, expensive and time-consuming. I don’t have the skill to do my own formatting, so I needed to pay an expert to have the previous versions updated. There have been technical difficulties in getting the new covers showing on some of the the Amazon websites.

Has it been worth the time and money involved, apart from relieving my own discomfort about having an imperfect product? Copies of the previous versions are still in circulation, and there’s nothing to be done about that. The experience has shown me the importance of getting it right first time. I admit that I haven’t always followed the basic guidelines:

  • Ask several people to read an advanced draft of your manuscript to check for errors of content; for example flaws in the plot, inconsistent naming of characters, or anything else they may notice.
  • Consider employing a professional copy editor to pick up mistakes in grammar, punctuation or spelling in the final version.
  • Check the proofs thoroughly yourself, even if you are so familiar with the text by that stage that you can’t face reading it yet again and feel impatient to get the book published.

No doubt the new versions of my novels are still imperfect. The cover design is not quite uniform between the three, but this does not really matter. If there are remaining errors in the text, they will have to stay there for the present. Anyway, they are now available for purchase as either paperbacks or ebooks, so if you haven’t already seen them please have a look now. Overdose is set in an old mental asylum, Fatal Feverfew in a healing retreat and Unfaithful Unto Death in rural general practice. They give a historically accurate, if mildly satirical, picture of medical practice and social attitudes in 1980s England. Some readers have found them shocking and others have thoroughly enjoyed them. Here are the links:

Overdose: Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Smashwords

Fatal Feverfew: Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Smashwords

Unfaithful Unto Death: Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Smashwords

Photo 1980 book covers