Copy Edits

    This is my week for going over the copy-edited version of my new novel, Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency (which will be coming out on November 8.)  It’s my last chance to make changes before it goes into publication, which means it’s my last chance to get everything right. On every page of the draft, there are notes from the copy-editor. Sometimes he just wants me to think about a word. Other times it’s more substantive.  Here are some sample questions: 1. Timing is very important in mysteries, as you can imagine. At one point I say that something happened two weeks ago, but actually it happened 20 days ago. Fix that! 2. Early in the novel I refer to a cat as having green eyes, but later on he has yellow eyes. Fix that! 3. I keep misusing “further” and “farther.” 4. Maggie has a conversation with her nemesis, Walter Campbell, and she feels badly for him. But soon thereafter she loses her temper. Take more time, the copy editor cautions. Wait a beat before she yells. 5. I tend to use the word “dumbfounded” a lot. Which I frequently am. But I shouldn’t use it too much. 6. I refer to a book of magic spells. (There are witches in this book!) But I got the title wrong. I fixed it. And so on. None of these things are onerous, but it’s important to get it all right. There’s nothing worse than finding a mistake in a book. Completely damages the author’s credibility. In my first Maggie Dove mystery, the copy-editor found a real doozy. I was referring to a psalm and got the number wrong. Maggie Dove is a Sunday School teacher and that would have been an embarrassing mistake. One of my favorite things about this process is that it does give you a chance to fix mistakes, which is not something you always get in life. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were someone walking alongside you saying, “Just a minute. Are you sure you want to do that?” (Maybe that’s my husband’s job.) Anyway, only 100 more pages to go through and then my new mystery will be as fresh and shiny as I can make it. Then I can get going on a first draft of a new book and make whatever mistakes I want! Have you ever found a mistake in a book? Or have you made one? (In a book, or in life?)    

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