I’m a big fan of instruction manuals. You give me step by step instructions on just about any subject and I can complete the task. And the age of the internet has made it even easier. Google is my friend - on a daily basis I google anything from how to make the perfect baked potato to how to check the oil level in my car.
However because information is so readily available, I have become short on grace for myself and others in the area of making mistakes. Research in order to do it right the first time has become the expectation I set. I cannot tell you how often I thought “how hard is it to assemble a hamburger the way I requested, it's not rocket science”. No thought to what might be going on in that person’s day…are they new, is there stress going on in their life, did making 30 hamburgers before mine cause them to lapse into daydreaming right at the moment my burger made its way down the conveyor belt?
Without realizing it I had lost the value that can be found in experience. Try, try and try again.
I realized this recently when publishing my first children’s book. The publishing process is new to me. I had to do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions. And yet I still made a costly mistake that has had me kicking myself all week. All along the process you are asked repeatedly to “check and double check” each item that requires your final approval. This generous reminder is given because if you miss something, there is a hefty cost out of your own pocket to have corrections made afterwards. It starts with the initial manuscript, then any edits that are made, then the illustrations, then final manuscript….all the way to the final printed author’s copy of the book prior to going to production.
I must have read my book at least 30 times during this process. I practically knew it by heart at this point. Then I read it a few more times during the editing process. I had to keep referring to the manuscript during the illustration process for little things like text that referred to a specific color or article of clothing however the initial illustration reflected a different color or item. A few more readings after it went to the designer to set up the fonts and final PDF’s for the print copy. All along the way I was able to catch minor issues and have the corrections made.
When my author’s copy arrived, it was glorious! There was my book in living color. It was like giving birth (if pregnancy was approximately 5 years long). So once again I was cautioned to do a thorough inspection to make sure everything was ready for final production….margins were all the same, nothing printed crooked, no missing pages, etc. By this point there should be no word, punctuation or spelling edits left.
So, I read it on the bus on the way into work. My heart began to fall as I noticed not one, but 5 critical edits that were needed. I rushed to view the manuscript I approved keeping my fingers crossed that these were errors after approval, but no. There they all were, in glaring black and white print, with my happy little “approved” at the bottom. Ugh! I really, really hate wasting money on things that I could have easily avoided if I had done it correctly. I could just hear my publisher now…”How could she have missed those? After all our reminders to read and reread. I mean, it’s not rocket science.” Touche’
Thankfully I have some amazing and supportive friends who helped me to stop beating myself up by reminding me that “It’s all part of the process of your first book”, “Think of what you have learned this go-around”, “Think of the stories you will be able to tell when you encourage others in their first book publishing adventure”, and my personal favorite – “When you are a famous author, this author preview copy with all of its errors, will auction for a fortune”.
To make myself feel better, I did a little research (Thank You Google) and found:
Henry Ford, who is now known for his innovative assembly line, had multiple earlier businesses that left him broke five times. Thomas Edison had 1000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb but all these unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked. Jerry Seinfeld froze his first time out on stage and was booed off but went back the following night and finished his set. Michael Jordan was quoted saying “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” And finally, Babe Ruth held the record for strikeouts for many years – 1,330 in all and when asked about it said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run”. He went on to hold the Home Run record – 714 during his career.
So as I sit here writing out the check for the new edits and enduring the 3 week delay in production, I am believing that it will be money well spent for an education in the school of experience.