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Proofread your writing – always

19 Jun
Click on the book cover to go to amazon.com

Click on the book cover to go to amazon.com

Imagine that everything you are typing is being read by the person you are applying to for your first job. Imagine that it’s all going to be seen by your parents and your grandparents and your grandchildren as well.
– Tim Berners-Lee

The manuscript of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood came back again for more proofreading. I didn’t complain but got right down to doing another proofreading. As a former proofreader for a legal publishing company for seven years in the 1990s I know the importance of many proofreads of a manuscript by several readers. Even the same readers having another crack at it.

Because the old eyes don’t always catch something the first go-round. And what one person doesn’t catch another person can. It is not something to be lazy about if you want your published novel to be nearly perfect.

I say “nearly perfect” because nobody is 100 per cent perfect. But you have to aim high or you might be embarrassed what gets published. True, with electronic publishing there is room for some changes later on. But most trade publishers publish both e-copies and print copies and it’s the latter which can land the author in hot water. Readers for the most part tend to be smart and will catch errors. However, it is the author they usually go after. Maybe the author is at fault, maybe not. But, if enough pairs of eyes haven’t proofread the manuscript several times, it really doesn’t matter who is to blame. The error is there.

Back in the days of my proofreading for the legal publishing company, a few things did slip through to print. We were reading from the galleys, often from manuscripts scanned and then printed out for proofing. In those days of the early scan, sometimes weird things came out. One (and this one was not from a manuscript I was proofing) was “the Crown Attorney” as “the Clown Attorney.” It wasn’t caught. As you can imagine that didn’t go over very well with the president and other big wigs in the company, not to mention the “Crown Attorney” himself or herself.

And my current manuscript?
Most of the snafus are apostrophes and backward quotation marks with a few mea culpa’s thrown in. I mean you would think that I, a “child” of the late 1950s and 1960s would know how to spell the late singer Bobby Darin’s name and his big hit “Mack the Knife.” I came out with Bobby Darrin and Mac the Knife. I caught it on this last round of proofreading. It doesn’t help that I know why I goofed. There is also a singer (still living) from the same era – James Darren (hence the two r’s) and some of you younger readers may remember him better as an actor on TV series such as T.J. Hooker (William Shatner and Heather Locklear also starred), The Time Tunnel, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Mac error comes from the more common spelling of Mac. I have to list all these proofreading errors in a separate sheet for my editor at the publisher’s to fix as he has done some formatting on the manuscript. Any that were my spelling errors like in this Darin case, and content errors (I also had one character sitting in a chair and a few paragraphs down she got up from the chesterfield), I have put “Mea Culpa” in brackets after it.

Proofreading your writing-in-progress before even submitting it is a very good idea. Editors of magazines and publishing houses, as well as agents, are turned off by a lot of typos and actual miss-spellings in a manuscript.

Happy writing and proofreading.

 

You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com. The book is available there in print and Kindle. For Kobo e-book go to http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beyond-the-tripping-point or go to any bricks and mortar store and order in a print copy.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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