Last Thursday I was on top of the world! My book had become available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and I was filled with excitement and relief! The hard part of the journey had ended. Or so I thought.
My Thursday started out in grand fashion. I had completed both my blog and podcast ahead of schedule, and I decided that Thursday morning, I would begin my social media blitz! I covered Facebook with the news of my book release, combined with my blog and podcast, and I even added some additional posts, including a “give-away.” Anyone who had ordered my book, or ordered it on Thursday, would have their name put in a drawing for a surprise item! I even stated that if individuals shared the post, their names could be included in the drawing, and if you did both, you got your name entered twice! I was a marketing genius (or this was genius level for me). I was strutting around in my fancy-pants, feeling great! I was happy and relieved, and excited to share my book with thousands of readers! Or at least a dozen or so.
I was strutting around like a proud peacock! I was a model, sauntering down the runway of life, living it to my fullest! Feeling accomplished, and a little bit sassy! And then it happened! Just like the time right before my 50th birthday, when I was at a banquet, walking back from the buffet line and feeling pretty fancy for my age, thinking everyone was staring at me because I looked so good. And then, in a moment of sheer horror, I realized that all eyes were on me because the bottom part of my dress was stuck into the leg of my Spanx. Fortunately, the dress wasn’t tucked into the waist part of my slimming undergarment, but it was still HIGHLY embarrassing. But, I acted as though it didn’t happen, and carried on.
I had an appointment Thursday morning, and since it would take me over 30 minutes to get there, I decided to listen to my podcast on the way. I do this from time to time so I can listen and find all the things that I need to improve upon. In this podcast, I read the first chapter of my book. I was trying to tease the listeners into wanting to order my book. Again, stretching my reach as a marketing genius (when I’m actual a remedial marketer). I was getting closer to my destination, and as I listened, I could almost quote the chapter word for word. I had read it, and re-read it a thousand times. Literally. So imagine my complete shock when I heard a word that was incorrect. In this first chapter, I reference Robert Earl Keen’s song, “Merry Christmas From the Family.” And as I heard myself reading that part in the chapter, I said, “King,” instead of Keen. I was completely rattled! How could I have made such a completely obvious mistake for all my listeners (all 17 of them) to hear??? I was mortified. At this point, I had reached my destination, and as I was waiting to be called back, I thought I’d double-check my blog, where I had copied and pasted the first chapter. I was sure this would make me feel better because it would be proof that I had written “Keen” in my book, and just mispronounced it during the podcast.
I pulled up rebellelikealady.com on my phone and began scrolling down until I came to the part where the evidence would exonerate me, at least in part. And when I saw KING spelled out as clear as day, I almost threw up. In fact, I said, “Dang-it” or another similar word out-loud, and the other person in the waiting area looked a little confused and a tiny bit alarmed. And just like that, I was no longer wearing my fancy pants. I was now in sackcloth and ashes, and was utterly ashamed, humiliated, disappointed, and horrified. There, in black and white, on the SECOND page of my newly published book, was an error. And just a couple of hours before I had plastered information all over Facebook about where to buy the book! And I knew several people had already ordered it. I could barely walk, much less breathe.
I talked with a dear friend/confidant about the situation, and she reminded me to look at the entire body of work. Yes, this was a mistake, but look at the sheer number of letters and words, and rewrites. Nothing could be done about the mistake that was printed. Accept that and move forward. We talked about the possibility of the publisher being able to correct the error, and we even toyed with the idea that maybe I should write a letter to Robert Earl Keen, apologizing, and who knows? That might even turn out to be a great publicity stunt (After considering all the ways this could go very long, I have since reconsidered that option).
As the day progressed, I bounced back and forth from thinking, This will be okay, to OMG! WHAT have I done? To make myself feel better, I even pulled up the manuscript, and found the total number of words that I had written in my 290 page book. The sum was 110,119. One-hundred-and-ten-thousand-one-hundred-and-nineteen. That’s a lot of words. If 1% of the words were incorrect that would be over a thousand words. So my slip-up(s) would be minuscule in comparison.
But no matter how I tried to spin it, I was still so disappointed in myself. I should have caught it! The mistake was on page two! It wasn’t like it was buried deep within the book. And I had read it no less than 100 times. And that isn’t an exaggeration. And the book had been edited by two other people, as well. The process is very time-consuming, with the mistakes showing up in red, and then the author selects whether or not he/she accepts or rejects the correction. You can do this one correction at a time, or you can click on the option to correct everything at once. I ALWAYS do the “one mistake at a time” option. But remember, I did two edits on this, so I poured through the manuscript a second time, accepting and rejecting words, and phrases, and commas, and italics, and whatever else needed my attention. I can’t remember if “Keen” had been corrected to “King,” and I accepted it, or if I had typed it incorrectly to begin with.
The thing is, I KNOW the guy’s name, for Pete’s sake. We listen to “Merry Christmas From the Family” every year, as well as many other songs by REK! I know who Robert Earl Keen is! Making such an egregious error is unacceptable! I just messed up! I feel like I need to turn in my “Aggie” card. I mean, this guy is an Aggie! And he sang on his front porch (hence “The Front Porch Song”) along with Lyle Lovett, behind the Dixie Chicken! I mean, you don’t get any more Aggie than that! And I’ve listened to country music for years! I didn’t just throw this line in the chapter. It fit. It was thought out. It was planned. And then I went and messed it up! Out of the 110,119 words, I messed up the name of a well-known person! Something that can’t be camouflaged or hidden with all the other words! Does editing and proofreading matter? YOU BET IT DOES! And in all my fancy-pants, I’m-so-excited-about-my-book moments, I failed to do this well.
Something that needs to be pointed out and reinforced is, that after reading and re-reading, many times you read things as you think they should be. Also, as I looked for misspellings, I didn’t catch it, because King was spelled correctly. Your mind inserts, omits, and corrects words sometimes without your knowing it. That’s how I glossed over it a hundred times.
After spending many hours beating myself up, crying, agonizing, and feeling like a failure, I received an email from the person I have dealt with throughout the publishing process, and she reassured me that this happens all the time, and YES, it could be corrected. Obviously, it would have to wait until the next printing, but it would happen. So hopefully, in a week-and-a-half, that error will be fixed. There is a charge for corrections, and since the book is already published, there was an additional charge because it was already in production. The total cost for writing “King” instead of “Keen,” was $75— a small price to pay in the big scheme of things.
I’m still disappointed in myself for making the mistake and not catching it, and I apologize to those of you who have already ordered the book. When I make a bulk order, I will gladly exchange books with you, and get a corrected copy to you. For some people, it may not matter, for others it will. But, hey! you might want to hang on to it, so when this becomes a best-seller, you will have a “rare” copy that might be worth something one day! (Ha! Again, dare to dream!)
After hearing from the publisher, I was thrilled, and wanted to share my news with the friend who consoled me and walked me through my initial shock and disappointment. And that’s when it all became real. That’s when I realized in the BIG PICTURE, this was nothing. It was a mistake, it can be corrected, and life goes on. Because when I sent my friend a text, I received a response that I wasn’t prepared for. She told me that her son had passed away the night before. And suddenly, my $75 word, didn’t matter. My mistake seemed like nothing. I thought back to how she had helped me through my emotional meltdown, and encouraged and supported me. And then, in a matter of hours, her son was gone. I know we’re never prepared to lose the people we love. But maybe, just maybe, this will serve as a reminder to me of what is truly important.
I’m sure there are more mistakes in my book. And those mistakes will be read by two types of people: Those who look for the mistakes, hoping to find something wrong with the book (I don’t mean to be negative, but sadly that’s true). The other set of people will read right over the errors, not noticing them at all, or catch the mistake and understand that it’s an unintentional error, that everybody makes mistakes, and that those few oversights shouldn’t define the entire body of work.
As I’ve stated before, this incident has been both devastating and humbling. The book might not ever be considered a great literary work… But, if it serves as a means to make others laugh, smile, think, or cry, then my job as an author is done. I will continue to make mistakes in both my writing and my life, but thankfully, I understand and believe that those things won’t be what defines me. When reflecting on my life, I hope I’m not remembered for placing the incorrect surname “King” in a book. Instead, I hope that my life will be measured by the kindness I shared and how well I loved.
And now I’m back to a seventy-five dollar word. Keen. Isn’t it funny that the word “keen” means “highly developed; showing great perception and insight.” Although my editing/proofreading skills haven’t been as keen as I had hoped, I think it would be really keen if you’d still read my book.
In the words of my new BFF, Robert Earl Keen, “The road goes on forever and the party never ends.” In that same spirit, it is my hope that I keep writing, and sharing, and working on who I am. Just like my main character, Abbie Winchester, I’ve learned from experience that words can be expensive, both literally and metaphorically. It is my intention that from this day forward, I will use all my words well.
If you have ordered my book, and are currently reading it, or have finished it, I would love to hear from you. If you liked it, please share your thoughts with others through word of mouth, or social media. Thanks for being the kind of people who love and accept me not only when I’m walking around in my fancy-pants, but also when my dress is tucked up in my Spanx.
As always, thanks for your support, and encouragement and for sharing my blog posts, and my podcasts.
Keep it up, and in everything you do, always remember to re-belle like a lady!
Until next time…
My podcast is now available on Stitcher (you don’t need an account to listen)
I’ve put the link on the top of the blog page.