One of the things that has become very obvious to me in my journey as an author is how difficult it is to get a 100% clean manuscript when it comes to typos and grammar errors. I read through Killing Adam at least 10 times on my own, my editor did two passes, and then her proofreading partner did a pass. But even with all three of us working on it, there were a handful of typos that made it through. And, of course, one of the reviewers that read through an advance copy caught them, and sent me a list of my mistakes. He was cool about it, and didn’t ding me any stars for it (I don’t think!), but it’s still annoying and a little embarrassing when someone has to write to you and point out that you are using the wrong tense for a verb, or that you wrote “provide” when you meant to write “prove.”
So today, I did a second round of typo fixing (this happened once earlier), which involves editing the manuscript, re-generating pdfs/ebook files, and then uploading them to all the various booksellers and print-on-demand vendors. It’s actually quite a chore, as you have to wait there while the sites do their parsing and internal processing. Amazon’s server actually tells you to go make yourself a sandwich, as it’s going to be awhile. So once you’re done with that, then you review proofs, pay any fees (Ingram, you’re a troublemaker), and wait for everything to reset with all the new changes. I basically just spent my entire morning working on that.
But, before I complain too much, I thought it would be good to reflect on how far this industry has come. There was a time — not too long ago! — when this sort of thing would actually have required re-typing an entire page off the typewriter. I heard that Tolstoy actually rewrote War and Peace twelve times, and each revision was completely retyped (rewritten?) by his wife, starting at page 1 and ending at page ten thousand (or whatever it was, that’s how long War and Peace feels to me). Even modern authors like Stephen King talk about when each draft was a complete re-typing of the entire book. So compared to those authors, making my two little changes was actually a breeze. Ten years from now, it will probably be even easier, which is pretty cool if you think about it.