One of the things I enjoy most about my current role is the opportunity to meet and interact with some amazingly creative and professional people. A few weeks ago when I gave the key note address at the West Coast Writers Conference Indie Author Conference, I had the opportunity to meet Kathy Ide. Kathy is a published author/ghostwriter, editor/mentor, and writers’ conference speaker. Her latest book is Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors is a must read for every aspiring author. She is also the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.com).
I asked her to share some of her wisdom and experience with my readers through a blog post. Her post is what follows and I think you will find it to be very helpful.
LET’S EAT GRANDMA: The Importance of Proofreading
Have you seen the plaques and T-shirts that say:
Let’s Eat Grandma.
Let’s Eat, Grandma.
Commas Save Lives.
I love that! It shows how one tiny bit of punctuation can change the entire meaning and tone of a sentence.
You may think that as long as you’ve got life-changing content in your nonfiction manuscript, or an intriguing story with lots of conflict and interesting characters in your fiction manuscript, that should be enough. And yes, content and story are extremely important. But no matter how good those things are, you’ll be running some pretty big risks if you don’t bother proofreading your manuscript carefully for typos, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies … and learning the industry-standard rules regarding punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling.
OK, you won’t be putting your grandmother’s life on the line or joining a tribe of cannibals. But tiny mistakes in your writing can have disastrous consequences. Here are my top ten:
- Mechanical errors can decrease your chance of acceptance by a traditional publisher.
- Mechanical errors can cause miscommunication.
- Mechanical errors can cause confusion.
- Mechanical errors can give an unprofessional appearance to publishers and readers.
- Mechanical errors can be embarrassing.
- Mechanical errors may cause readers to take you and your message less seriously.
- Mechanical errors can affect the sales of your book.
- Mechanical errors could cost you money.
- Mechanical errors can be distracting
- Mechanical errors can give you a poor reputation.
Professionalism Is Key
If you’re writing just for family and friends, it may not matter so much whether every comma is in exactly the right place or if you have a few typos here and there. But if you want to get your book published in today’s highly competitive commercial market, you need every edge you can get. If you expect people to buy what you write, you need to take the time to do it right.
If you have a hard time finding typos, inconsistencies, and “PUGS” errors in your writing, consider hiring a professional proofreader. If you go to http://www.ChristianEditor.com and fill out the form for Authors Seeking Editors, you’ll be connected with established, professional editors who can make your manuscript shine.
A comma may not save Grandma’s life. But a careful proofread might make a life-or-death difference for your manuscript.