Sunday, July 28, 2013

Read 'til Your Eyes Bleed....

....and you still won't catch all of the typos. It's a melancholy fact.

With an ebook, of course, you are free to edit indefinitely, so when you receive an email that says on page 25 Judy's eyes are green and the next time she appears on page 195 they are blue, you can go in and fix it up.

Writers tend to be blind to their own mistakes. They know what they meant to say, and mentally they supply the correct version as they proofread. A guy who habitually mistypes teh for the is likely to glide right over the misspelled word. A woman who keeps forgetting that periods at the end of dialogue go inside the quotation mark will probably not notice the thirty times in her manuscript that she does it the other way: She smiled at him. "I love you so much".

This is why it's great to get another set of eyes on your work - and if possible, more than one set. Reader A will catch things that Reader B misses, and vice-versa. You need readers who are sensitive to issues of grammar, spelling, and so on, but who also appreciate the kind of story you've written.

And you know what? You're still likely to get emails pointing out things everybody missed.

Once an editor at a New York house was talking to me about cover letters. She could take them or leave them, she said. Cover letters didn't influence her decision to buy or not buy a book.

Then she got thoughtful and added, "Except for this one time."

The aspiring writer had a brief cover letter, properly respectful and properly formatted.

Unfortunately, the writer had also boasted, "I've been through the manuscript at least six times, and I can assure you that you will find no type O's in it."

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