by Joan C. Benson

When an author completes a book, s/he wants it perfected before submitting it to an agent or publisher. The author has read and reread the manuscript multiple times and revised and revised it with the best of their expertise. Nothing but the best work should be considered for submission.

In my case, my first novel took years to finish. No, it didn’t take years of writing, but years of retrieving it from the bottom of my to-do list. After all, I was paid for contract writing, my proverbial squeaky wheel. Once I finished polishing the manuscript, I asked others to make suggestions. One hopes to catch glaring problems before the book goes into publication.

My debut novel is historical fiction, and its plot revolves around the life of a classically trained musician. Obviously, as a musician myself and the daughter of a gifted pianist about whom the story is written, I wanted the story to resonate with reality, to be pitch-perfect.

Five pianists and music majors read this novel before publication. Two musicians wrote endorsements. The novel was released two years ago in August and now boasts many wonderful reviews. I am thankful.

Last week, however, I received an email from a reader saying she enjoyed the story. Then there was a surprise. This reviewer (who I do not personally know) mentioned an error. (My publisher has since corrected the mistake, but I am at a loss—as well as the publisher!)

I can only say with all those musicians missing this, maybe they were so engaged with the plot and characters, they didn’t zero in on the mistaken detail. Should I take this as a loss? I’m sure there is a spiritual lesson in this tale, but I’ll save that story for another blogpost. I’m calling this a “win.”

Joan C. Benson is a free-lance writer published in multiple magazines including LifeWay’s “ParentLife,” Regent University’s “The Christian Leader,” Royal Rangers “High Adventure,” Focus on the Family online, and others. Some of her devotionals are published on CBN.com. Benson also has many years of experience writing for children’s ministry publications for LifeWay Publishing. She maintains an ongoing blog, which can be found on the website. Her first historical fiction novel, His Gift was published through Elk Lake Publishing in 2020. Benson has co-authored a series of four children’s picture books which are under contract. Another current project is a contemporary fiction novel, expected to be finished in 2022.

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