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?