All writers do it. Some of us even enjoy it. But the process can drive a sane person absolutely crazy.
For example, just when you think you’ve found all of the mistakes in your manuscript, you discover one or two more. Does the process of self-editing ever end?
Turn your perfect manuscript over to an editor or even a friend with a good eye for proofing and you may be astounded at some of the problems you overlooked. For example:
• Your chapter headings don’t match your table of contents (a common situation for those of us who make changes in heading titles or the order of chapters after having completed the TOC).
• Your character name or a place name is inconsistent. Ooops you changed the name of a character or city in mid-stream and forgot to change it throughout.
• You never took time out to learn how to use the apostrophe correctly.
• You have become so close to your manuscript that you are overlooking obvious blunders.
• You are confused about when to use “then” and “than,” “your” and “you’re,” etc.
• And the list goes on and on and on.
If you are writing a book, I have a couple of suggestions.
1: Buy a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style. It is pricey. But, if you study it, you will learn volumes of valuable editorial and writing rules that will serve you in all of your writings.
2: Start saving up to hire a good book editor. Don’t even think about pitching a book to an agent or publisher without hiring one.
3: When you’ve self-edited to the best of your ability, turn your manuscript over to a good book editor. You will be awfully glad you did.
You might reason, “But I read books all the time that aren’t well edited. If they can get away without hiring an editor, why can’t I?” And how far do you think these authors will get within the publishing world? I can tell you that I won’t read very far into a book that is riddled with errors. I know others who will cast a book aside if it isn’t well-edited. I mean, if the author didn’t care enough about his story or his nonfiction book to make sure it is editorially accurate, what makes you think the content is valid?
I’m sure that many of you have stories of buying books with editorial mistakes. How do you handle it? Do you go ahead and read the book, as painful as it may be? Do you immediately lose confidence in the author? Do you toss the book and tell friends that you do NOT recommend it? Or are you one of those people who can read through the errors without them bothering you?