I am reading The Christmas Carol Murders, probably for the twenty-fifth time, striving for that virtually unachievable object—an error-free manuscript. We’re past finding the usual typos, and winding down to the last few—things like awkwardly repeated words on the same page, or a continuity error that has slipped by the author, the critical readers who read earlier drafts of the manuscript, the editor, the proofreader, the author, the author, and the author. Did they eat dinner at Jinx’s or at Cannery Roe? Until today, one character said one place, the second one said another—and this wasn’t to confuse the reader or place suspicion on these characters. The author had simply forgotten, and it slipped by again, and again, and again. Until today. Now it’s fixed. They ate crab macaroni and cheese and gooseberry buckle at Cannery Roe.
But what else might I have missed? I’ve heard many authors say that a book is never done, but that it is finished. Even after publication authors find manuscript errors, or scholars find them later (Finnegan’s Wake comes to mind here).
After this read-through I’m supposed to be done with the manuscript, and the Advance Reader Copies (ARCs to the people in the business) will be printed and distributed by my publicity machine to review services, magazines, newspapers, and bookstore owners, well in advance of the September 24, 2012 publication date.
Book two in the series, The Edwin Drood Murders, is drafted and awaiting professional editing, so I don’t have to do anything more with it for a while. But book three, The Our Mutual Friend Murders, waits impatiently in a small stack of planning papers at my desk. Time to move on.