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?

How Do You Write A Book?

This past week I had the chance to talk to a fair number of business owners. That's normal for what I do, but the interesting thing this week was the similarity of the conversations. Not all entrepreneurs ask me the same things. Some ask me what I do. Many of them end...

Memorial Day 2019

I don't have a special message for Memorial Day. I never do.In fact, looking back through the archives for previous years' messages, I see I don't have any. Maybe I deleted them to save space on the server. Perhaps I deleted something in an effort to avoid courting...
morning

5 Things to Do Before You Begin Your Writing Day

What should you do before you start your writing day?I've read plenty of advice on topics like this over the years, and I have to say upfront: I don't think there's a right way or a wrong way. You have to do what works for you. However, I've also tried to do things...
no more for the road

No More For The Road

I took my last drink 30 years ago. Hard to believe, but I’ve just reached the milestone of three decades’ worth of continuous sobriety.Now, if you’d asked me the day before I stopped drinking whether I had an alcohol problem, I would have said No. Mainly because I...

Short Story Contest Part II

Last week, I launched a short story contest here on my blog as part of a major national promotion. To recap: this is not a call for submissions; I'm serializing a short story in anticipation of my upcoming release of a short collection. Here's how it works: read it...
next book

Talking About My Next Book: More On Whizzers

Talking or writing about your new book is always unnerving for an author. Well, for this author, anyway. I can't really speak for anyone else.Back in November, fellow author Jay Lemming conducted an author interview with me for about 45 minutes. We spoke about a...
kicking that can

Kicking That Can Down the Road

When I started writing my upcoming novel, I didn't have an agenda or even a plan. The story of Whizzers came about very organically, though it has roots in my own life from many years ago. To understand how I evolved as a writer, you almost have to understand how I...

Frustrated By the Publishing Process?

Beep. Beep. Beep. You wake up bright and early to the sound of the dreaded alarm clock. First thing, you brew some coffee and grab your computer. It’s a Thursday, so you have to go to work, but you feel compelled to start each day with a bit of writing. You also...
guest blogging

Guest Blogging: To Post Or Not To Post

So it’s Monday, and as always my calendar says “New Blog Post Due.” My mind, on the other hand, says, Add a quick blog post. This is slightly different, because I have a couple afternoon appointments, and not enough time to write a post between them. Can you say...

Five Mistakes New Authors Make

Every author starts as a newbie, even if they held a job as a writer in some other capacity. The publishing business can be incredibly daunting for a newcomer: many authors work alone without much feedback, so their mistakes, while understandable, are also far too...