By Kathy Ide
Editors, have you ever given writing or self-editing tips to your clients or potential clients? The following article by Kathy Ide is a resource you can share to help writers clean up their manuscripts before sending them to editors!
Did you know that even “little” mistakes in your manuscript—typos, inconsistencies, and errors in punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling (which I call “PUGS”)—can affect your reputation as an author … and your book sales? The same thing is true of everything you write that potential publishers or readers might see, including your blogs, social media posts, promotional material, handouts at speaking engagements, even e-mails to colleagues.
Here are just a few reasons to proofread everything you write:
- Mechanical errors can give an unprofessional appearance to publishers and readers.
Too many mistakes in a manuscript, query letter, or proposal can kill your chances of acceptance with a traditional publisher. Even if your manuscript has already been accepted, if the publisher’s in-house editor has to spend all her time fixing your mistakes, she won’t be able to catch the deeper, more subtle nuances of your text. Besides, you won’t be presenting a very polished, professional image to your publisher.
For a lot of avid readers, typos practically jump off the page. And many are familiar with the rules of punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. If your reader knows the rules and you don’t, that’s not going to make you look very professional. This is especially true if you’re self-publishing, because you can’t blame mistakes on the publisher. And since so many self-published books are not well edited or proofread, many readers today are reluctant to purchase books that don’t come from established traditional publishing houses.
- Mechanical errors can be embarrassing.
A friend of mine once picked up a book at a bookstore and noticed a typo on the back cover. When she reported it to our critique group, she didn’t say she’d found a mistake on a book published by “XYZ Publishers.” She said she found the mistake on a “Jane Doe” novel. She didn’t connect the error to the publishing house but to the author.
- Mechanical errors may cause readers to take you and your message less seriously.
I once saw a published article with this title: “Crowe Turns Hero to Help Snake Bite Boy.” The story was about actor Russell Crowe helping a boy who’d been bitten by a snake. But by spelling snakebite as two words, this sentence implies that Mr. Crowe helped a snake bite a boy! Now, I got a good laugh out of that. But I sure don’t want those kinds of mistakes showing up in my own writing. I’m sure you don’t, either.
(To be continued. Stay tuned for Part 2 of 5 Reasons to Proofread Everything You Write!)
Kathy Ide, author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors and editor/compiler of the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series, is a full-time freelance editor/writing mentor, working with new writers, established authors, and book publishers. She speaks at writers’ conferences across the country and is the director for the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference. Kathy is the founder and director of the Christian Editor Connection, a service that links authors and editors, and The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network, which provides training, encouragement, networking, and community for Christian freelance editors. For more about Kathy, visit www.KathyIde.com.