As they'd say in a certain comic strip, "Arrrgh!" An author who wrote a very nice blurb for my upcoming novel noticed an error that should have been detected months ago, by "helper readers," by the first editor, or, of course, by the author herself. Luckily, is it something that can be fixed with a sentence, and I have another chance to edit before the ARCs come out. But such things start me wondering, "Will it ever be truly right?"
Stories abound from authors who've made a mistake that slipped through the editing process and ended up in the finished product. It gets pointed out again and again by fans, even though it's too late and the mistake is there forever. I'm sure it gets harder as an author gets into the "book a year" phase of her career, where fans' and publishers' demands for the next book shorten the time for thoughtful, multiple edits.
My current WIP will need lots of editing because I've changed plot points so often as it went along. Now it's a matter of going back through and smoothing it out. When does Character A reveal his childhood tragedy? How does Character D become separated from him? It's working itself out, but the details have to fall into place, which means multiple readings, outlining to see if it's all there, and adding correct information at critical points so the reader isn't left confused and therefore frustrated.
So I guess the mistake in Book Two helps with Book Current. It reminds me to check and recheck, read and reread, think and rethink. Because once it's out there ... I don't want it to be "out there."