The Improtance Of Poorfreading

The Improtance Of Poorfreading

So right up front, I know I’m taking a gamble with today’s headline. I only hope most readers of this blog will be able to translate Improtance into Importance, and Poorfreading into Proofreading. Goodness knows Spellcheck tried to change them on me.

The reason for the attempt at comedy here is to inject a bit of levity into what writers often consider a tedious subject—that of editing and proofreading. And I’ll admit, I take these things to an extreme.

Why? Because they’re important.

The great American novelist John Gardner wrote Good fiction sets off…a vivid and continuous dream in the reader’s mind. Any time something pulls the reader out of that dream state—and a typo will do it every time—the reader has to make a conscious effort to get back into it.

And that’s not good.

 

Yeah, But…So What?

I know some of my fellow writers will read this and say, So what? Don’t all books these days have a fair number of errors, even those from the big publishers?

My answer: yes, that’s true…which is why we indie authors have to do even better.

Now, you may think that’s counterintuitive, and it is. After all, large publishers have large resources, both financially and otherwise. How can indie authors possibly compete?

But you see, that’s the point. If you want to compete in a crowded marketplace, you have to stand out from the crowd.

 

Isn’t A Great Story Enough?

To push it even further, my devil’s advocate readers might wonder, Well, why do I have to put so much emphasis on editing and proofreading? Isn’t a great story enough?

In a word: no.

You have to have a great story. That goes without saying. But you also need excellent editing, and yes, proofreading.

Fellow author Nina Soden wrote a great post about the inevitability of typos in manuscripts. In it, she notes that even award-winning authors have typos in some of their books. But she also emphasizes that she does the best she can to make sure errors are minimized in her novels.

A great editor may charge a thousand dollars or more for a manuscript, but proofreaders will work for as little as $15/hour. Yet they are worth their weight in gold. If you’ve gone through your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb after the editing is done, you can get your typo rate down to nearly nothing.

Think about it. If traditional publishers average about six errors per book, and your indie book has three, or two, or none, what will readers think when they read it?

They just might think, Wow, this is really good.

And isn’t that what’s it all about?

holidays

Books: Great Holiday Gifts, or The Greatest Holiday Gifts?

I saw a cartoon the other day that features a character who's starting to sing, "It's beginning to look a lot like..." A second character quickly and quietly puts the first character down, saying, "Shh. Sleep now." Dark stuff, right? But hey, these are dark times—in...

Miles of Files: Where Did It Come From?

I wrote my third novel between about 2007 and 2015. I can’t say it took a full eight years to write – I got stuck in the final third for a couple years – but it was an ambitious project. I’d gone from a third person novel to a first person novel, and now I was going...

Strictly Commercial In SE Asia

Three weeks is not a normal lapse of time between blog posts for me. I try to blog at least once a week, anyway, but from November 9th through November 23rd, I was on my first real vacation since 2015. The destination: my wife's native Thailand. This was my fifth trip...
staycation

The Big July 4th Staycation

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” —Eugene Ionesco   I'll admit it: last week’s blog post was pretty much non-existent. All I posted was a flag picture and a headline, “Happy birthday,...
weird

And Now, Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Now that I’ve reached the latter half of my sixth decade, I increasingly hear myself begin sentences “Back in the day…” or “I remember when….” It’s weird. In our eternally youth-obsessed culture, growing old itself is just plain weird.  And the current pandemic has...
cancel

Anyone Else Thinking about Canceling Cancel Culture?

Ordinarily, I’m on the side of the poor, the beaten-down, the marginalized. In short, the outsiders. But this week, what’s on my mind is something a little on the opposition side, or what I’d like to think of as the middle. Most everyone who knows me would describe me...

The Marketing Thing Vs. The Working Thing

Last week, I took a vacation with my lovely wife, and missed doing a blog post entirely. I see where WordPress has an option of writing and scheduling posts, but frankly, I was too busy doing that with my monthly newsletter. I figured I could ignore the blog for a...
authenticity

Putting Yourself Out There

I see a lot of social media posts these days about "authenticity." The idea is that clients and customers, and potential clients and customers, really appreciate your authenticity—mainly because so many fake people have tried to sell them something they didn't want to...
metaphysical

Five Ways You Can Help With a Local Book Launch Event

This week I want to write a bit more about my fourth novel, Whizzers. It’s my current Work-In-Progress, and I plan to have it finished this year in order to launch it in 2019. One of the few luxuries of being an independent author is that I haven’t set a firm...
punches

Roll With The Punches, Baby!

Today is just one of those Mondays. I got a letter from the IRS that said they "believe there's a miscalculation" in my return. So that big $300 refund I was planning on receiving? Fuhgeddaboutit. But hey, at least I don't owe them anything, and they're not auditing...
Create A Process That Works For YOU

Create A Process That Works For YOU

This week’s topic: create a process that works for you.

I can’t tell you how many times a fellow author’s quote has upset me for the simple reason that their opinion is presented as fact. Here are a few examples:

“Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour.” Robert McKee

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 

Maya Angelou

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”  Stephen King

 

Shouldn’t Those Pros Be Considered Experts?

Okay, so first of all, you might wonder why I would quote famous writers only to disagree with them. After all, these folks are heavyweights, right?

Well, for one, I don’t disagree 100% with any of this stuff. However, I think we writers are often prone to hyperbole, and we certainly feel strongly that whatever works for us will work for others. Right?

Eh, not necessarily.

And there’s the rub: if writing every day is your process, if you need to do that, then do it. But don’t prescribe that for everyone else. It might do more harm than good.

When I attended one of my first writing workshops in grad school, the professor—a respected writer who’d won some awards for his short stories—asked us on the first day of class, “Are you all writers? You all write every day?”

Now, maybe I was just a little hypersensitive, but the implication that if I don’t write every day I’m not a writer really stung. And it probably inhibited me for years afterwards, while I was still struggling to become a writer and hadn’t yet been paid a dime for my work.

Flash forward thirty years, and guess what? I’ve written more novels than my old professor ever did. He’s still around, too. (And yes, he’s old enough to be my father. Not going to mention his name.) Does that mean I’m not a writer if I don’t write every day? I think not.

As for Maya’s quote: I like the idea, but believe me, there are plenty of agonies on earth far worse than bearing an untold story. Let’s be serious.

And King? One of the richest, most successful writers of all time, but I don’t want to write like him. Never did, never will. My aim is for great, lasting literature. Who cares what that guy thinks about a perfectly good part of speech? (See what I did there?)

 

How Will I Know If It Works?

So this is the real question. How will you know what process works best for you, if you haven’t tried it?

Fact is, you won’t. You have to find your way, just like every other writer out there.

People can give you advice. You can take courses. You can, and should, read widely. But the process of writing a book—which I often compare to climbing Mt. Everest alone with a spoon for a walking stick—is your process. Outline or no outline, plotter, pantser, or plantser, you have to do what works. And that might mean throwing a lot of spaghetti at the wall until something sticks.

My process? I have to start with characters, dialogue, snippets of scenes. I create only the roughest of outline, or no outline at all, until I have some pages. Even then, a lot of it is like pulling teeth. My own teeth. And I’m not one of those lucky ducks who loves to write. Like Dorothy Parker, “I love having written.” Big difference.

Have you found a process that works like a charm for you? Still trying to find it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

drivers

Florida Drivers, Beware

This weekend I had to run out for essentials, which I’m only doing when absolutely necessary. But it seems like plenty of other people were out there, too, and I can’t help believing some of them just didn’t want to be bored at home. So when it came time for me to get...
characters

It All Starts With Character

“Sahno offers a compelling vision of a community whose need for companionship and support in the face of life's struggles is stirring.” “The characters are deep, well thought out…” “I read this novel in a few short days, drawn in by a believable plot and characters...
break

Taking A Break

Today I'm taking a break from the regular weekly blog post—not because everyone is exhausted (which is true enough) but because we had a four-hour blackout in my neighborhood this afternoon! So now I'm too busy to create anything new, and time has run out....

All the News

It's been crazy busy for me lately, and this blog got neglected because Monday - my normal blog post date - was the 4th of July holiday. I know, I should have worked anyway, right? Isn't that what everyone does these days? Work any day and every day? Well, the heck...

Self-Publishing: The Trouble with Going It Alone

Indie publishing is on the rise but tread carefully. Self-publishing is exactly how it sounds:everything depends on you and you alone. Sure, you get to make all of the decisions, but that also means you have to make all of the decisions. Editing, proofreading,...
software

How Hard Is Software Supposed to Be?

So last week I took the Memorial Day holiday off from everything: no blog, no book project...nothing. Just me and my wife enjoying the day off from work. We don't get that many of those together, so it was nice to just hang out, sleep late, and watch mindless TV shows...
twitter

Best Accounts to Follow on Twitter

Recently I wrote a blog post about how many writers struggle to find interesting topics. It occurred to me that, for those of us who are writers and/or entrepreneurs, one good topic for this blog might be Best Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Of course, this is totally...
Whizzers

The Glories of Language: Making Stuff Up and Other Fun Things I Do

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” - Pablo Picasso   One thing I was never especially afraid of was breaking the rules. What I was afraid of was getting caught. When I was young, I got into a tiny bit of trouble, but not much....
book launch

Book Launch Time: The Biggest Day In A Writer’s Life

Over the past few weeks, I've been posting ideas with the intention of providing a service to my fellow authors—in particular, those new to the publishing game. Anyone familiar with my work most likely knows about my most recent novel, Whizzers, and for a couple...
exhausted

“Broke Down And Busted In The Promised Land”

Man, are you exhausted or what? I know I am. We all are, right? In fact, I was thinking of titling today's blog post Exhausted, but then the phrase "broke down and busted" drifted into my mind. It comes from a song by a band called The Hilltops, which eventually...
When Do You Need To Copyright Your Work?

When Do You Need To Copyright Your Work?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve written a couple of well-received blog posts on the publishing process, one of which is about the importance of having a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) and the other of which is called What’s the Risk to Not Having A Cataloging-In-Publication (CIP) Data Block?

In all honesty, there was no tangible benefit to putting these articles out there. They’re really just ways I can do my fellow writers a solid by providing info and experience about my journey through the wonderful world of running a publishing company. And as always, I don’t claim to be an expert; this is my opinion.

 

So, About that Copyright

Now, any writing for public consumption should be copyrighted. We all know that. But even in the digital age, there’s still a lot of confusion about copyright.

Back in the days of typewriters—and yes, I am old enough to have been there—copyright was handled a little differently. Although many of us writers were well aware of the concept that something is “copyrighted to you” the minute you put pen to paper, we nonetheless worried about people stealing our work.

The old-fashioned way to “prove” that a work of writing was yours was to mail it to yourself, then keep the unopened copy. The idea was that, in the event of a lawsuit, you could dramatically pull out the envelope and open it in court before all the witnesses, who would then be able to examine the postmark on the envelope. Boy, that seems like a long time ago.

 

Digital Man

In the digital age, writers still worry about theft of copyrighted work. But to be brutally honest, it’s highly unlikely anyone wants to steal your stuff. At least, not in the sense of stealing it, calling it their own, and publishing it. There’s just way too much content out there now, and tons more created every day.

The real worry, when it comes to copyrighted material, is that someone will take your ebook, upload it to a website, and give it away—much like music downloads depriving artists of those potential royalties.

The question of when to copyright is still an open one, but I say it’s fine to go ahead and do it right away. Once you have a few pages’ worth of something, and you’re committed to seeing it through, it’s well worth spending the $75 or $100 to send it to copyright.gov. They’ll send you a hard copy of proof of copyright, which can take a few months. In theory, by the time you get your proof of copyright, you’ll have a complete, or nearly complete, manuscript.

Of course, there’s always the question of the work being “substantially different” from the original. Again, practicality should win out here. Of course it’s going to be substantially different, but enough of the original should be in your submitted manuscript so that it still resembles what you sent the copyright office. In the end, you’ll sleep better, and you’ll feel more like a “real writer” after you’ve submitted it.

 

Postscript

One final consideration: the time of year. Copyright applies to the year, really. Sure, your Amazon listing may have an actual date, but most people won’t look at that. Copyright 2020 means anytime during 2020. So if you plan to milk the calendar and call something “new” as long as you can, you should publish relatively early in the year. My most recent novel is copyright 2019, but in the publishing world, all of 2019 is old news. Keep that in mind if you want to put something out late in the year!

metaphysical

Five Ways You Can Help With a Local Book Launch Event

This week I want to write a bit more about my fourth novel, Whizzers. It’s my current Work-In-Progress, and I plan to have it finished this year in order to launch it in 2019. One of the few luxuries of being an independent author is that I haven’t set a firm...

How Authors Can Navigate Twitter

Way back in June 2016, I wrote a blog post about Facebook vs. Twitter. At the time, I had a whole six months of expertise as a guy running a business full-time, so no wonder I did such a great job! Well, okay, maybe I overstated my case. But the bottom line of that...
reaper

COVID-19: The Reaper that Keeps on Reaping

Last week I wrote about the trials and tribulations of my immediate family. I’d love to brag about how much better things are this week, but…eh…not so much. While we were contending with my mother going from a hospital to a skilled nursing facility, we had some more...
political

Navigating the Murky Waters of Political Correctness

“If you don't have a sense of humor, it just isn't funny.”  —Wavy Gravy   When it comes to political correctness, I’m not convinced we should go back to the “good old days.” I mean, do we really want to go back to calling someone born to an unwed mother a...
post

Why Subscribe To A Blog?

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you probably know I post something new on my blog most Mondays. Or maybe you don’t know that at all. I’ll admit, I’m not exactly the greatest promoter of my own blog. When it comes to social media platforms like Twitter, I'm...
Twitter

6 Twitter Tips for Authors

Those of you who follow my blog probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. Now that I’m closing in on 25K followers, I feel like I’ve got a little experience I can share that will be helpful. And with that, here comes today’s blog...
epic launch

An Epic Launch

Today, the SEO overlords may punish me for posting something overly short. But that's okay. Because I had an epic launch this weekend. "Epic launch" is a phrase I've had in my head for a few weeks now. You see, as the publication date for Whizzers drew closer and...
coming-of-age

Dreams, Memories, And Growing Up One Day At A Time

We use up too much artistry in our dreams—and therefore often are impoverished during the day. - Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow   Boy, ole Nietzsche really had it right, didn’t he? Last night I went through mental movies that ranged from being...

Lyrics: Why I Write Them, and Why I’ve Put Them Into My Novels

Today's post might look like a lazy man's blog, because I'm copying and pasting lyrics into it from other sources. But the fact is, lyrics have always played an important role not only in my life, but also in my novels. I never gave this much thought until recently,...
punches

Roll With The Punches, Baby!

Today is just one of those Mondays. I got a letter from the IRS that said they "believe there's a miscalculation" in my return. So that big $300 refund I was planning on receiving? Fuhgeddaboutit. But hey, at least I don't owe them anything, and they're not auditing...