Jennifer Lyon

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020
Making Mistakes Is Rarely Fatal

So yesterday, my formatters sent me all my electronic files for SAVAGED DEVOTION, and I checked each one and approved them. My formatter uploaded the Apple file to publish in a few days (I can’t as I don’t have a Mac), and the remaining files are in my book folder waiting for me to upload to the other retailers. So far so good.

Then today, I began checking the draft of the print version and right there on the copyright pages was a Big Ugly Obvious Mistake. It had the wrong year.  This is entirely my fault. I sent the wrong information and I missed the error in every file I checked until the very last one. But hey, at least I caught it…eventually.

I hate making mistakes, and worse, I hate causing others extra work to fix it. So it’s not a great feeling, but it’s rarely fatal. It’s just a mistake. In fact, I can guarantee that despite two different editors who worked on this book, some errors will get through in the published versions. Typos and other things slip through all our best efforts.

I want a perfect book, but that’s an impossible standard. And it’s exactly the kind of thinking that freezes me creatively. The truth is readers don’t usually love books for their error free perfection, but they adore them for their characters and story. Readers are wonderfully forgiving of authors being fallible if they write a compelling story.

Mistakes are Rarely Fatal.

What I try to do when I make a mistake is this:

  1. First, own the mistake. All mistakes in the books are mine. All of them.
  2. When it causes my team extra work, I try to always claim the mistake, ask them to fix it and to charge me. My editors, formatter and cover artists are valuable professionals and work as hard as I do. And they deserve to make a living as much as I do.
  3. Let it go. It’s okay to be fallible.
  4. Believe in myself and my ability to create imperfectly wonderful stories :-)

So that’s my thought for the day. Happy Wednesday!

6 comments to “Making Mistakes Is Rarely Fatal”

  1. B.E. Sanderson
    November 11th, 2020 at 6:39 am · Link

    I’m right there with you. I hate making mistakes – especially when they cause issues for someone else. But yeah, they aren’t fatal. I feel stupid, but I’ve lived through every stupid mistake I’ve ever made – and I have made some doozies – so I’ve got that going for me. Sounds like you have a wonderful coping strategy for mistakes. Go, you!

    I cannot wait to read this book!

  2. Silver James
    November 11th, 2020 at 8:58 am · Link

    Exactly! Almost everything can be fixed and those darn typos are insidious! It’s easy to have a brain fark, but it takes someone with diligence to find it, own, and fix it. You are all those things. And you’re right. Readers are far more foregiving unless there are so many errors in a book that you wonder if there was any editing–even self-editing. My brain couldn’t get around massive uh-ohs like that even BEFORE I started writing for publication.

    And it’s Veteran’s Day. Saluting all our men and women who have served!

  3. Viki S.
    November 11th, 2020 at 3:38 pm · Link

    Wow! Good catch. Yes, mistakes are a royal pain but like you said, not fatal. It’s really funny how we can look right at something time and time again and not notice anything wrong. I am so glad you caught it before sending book out.
    I love your 4 steps. Owning a mistake is by far number one and so many don’t, they just pass the buck.
    Since it’s Veterans Day and hub is a vet he gets a free meal at this local place we like. They’ve been doing this for 4 years now and it’s a big hit. Needless to say, we’re going out for dinner ;).

    I hope you are having a wonderful day.

    PS I love Maggie and her crush on the UPS guy :-D .

  4. Jenn
    November 11th, 2020 at 6:05 pm · Link

    B.E., thanks. Part of it is I’m trying to NOT let myself freeze up again. Mistakes will happen, and since I’m always multitasking and thinking too many things at once, I make more than my fair share.

    And these days, I want to encourage and lift up people around me, not bring them down.

  5. Jenn
    November 11th, 2020 at 6:09 pm · Link

    Silver, I sometimes think we authors are far harder on ourselves and sometimes other authors, than readers are. I may have noticed typos and minor issues before I became an author, but I figured it just slipped through.

    Mostly though, I just want us all to keep trying out best and not let worry stop our creativity. I’ve learned how awful that is :-)

    Yes, I have deep gratitude for all those who served.

  6. Jenn
    November 11th, 2020 at 6:14 pm · Link

    Viki, it’s true in my case at least. That mistake was glaring, and I just kept looking right over it. I think I often read what I expect to be there, instead of what’s actually there.

    I try hard to own my mistakes, unless I can blame Wizard or Maggie, LOL! Seriously, in self publishing, it’s all on me and I take responsibility.

    Maggie was so funny with him. She got him to stop and say hi to her, and she was thrilled. Silly pup. These days, though, she loves everyone.

    I think it’s wonderful that a restaurant serves a free meal to veterans (especially during these hard times!). I hope you guys have a great time!

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