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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Typing "the end" doesn't mean the manuscript is finished

 cj Sez: Readers, did you ever open a book, read a few chapters (or even a few lines), and then put it down because of errata, i.e.; those typo, grammar, and misspelling gremlins that drive a pedantic like me crazy? One or two gremlins will make me shake my head. If a lot of them, I’ll close the book.

   I used to find that indie books were the worst. They tended to be poorly edited if not poorly written. Now, I’m finding repetitive errors in books by established authors and big publishing houses who should know better. Perhaps it comes down to the time it takes to do a detailed copy edit vs. getting the book to the market.

    The problem with self-published books is that they are so often done on a shoestring (cost-wise) that the author cannot afford to pay for a copy editor. Unfortunately, I’ve come across some authors who simply don’t want to go through the process.

   Speaking from experience, self-edits and beta readers do not, will not, and cannot catch everything that a professional copy editor will. When I was gainfully employed, one of my report/column-writing rules was to get as many people as possible to read the document . . . the more eyes on it the better the end product. That wasn’t easy to do when I was on a deadline of minutes, and my work wasn’t on the top of a co-worker’s list. But the effort was so worth it.

   The same thing is true about an author’s manuscript. I want my manuscript to be the best I can make it. I read the document on the computer screen, and then I print a few pages. Because the text looks different when printed, I have a better chance to find the missing comma, period, or quotation mark that was missed on numerous computer-screen read-throughs. (Chances are there is at least one gremlin in this post.) 

  Sometimes, I make a copy of the printed page and read that. Copying changes the size of the font once again, and I will often find something else to correct. One of the best ways to find those gremlins and discover plot or dialogue problems is to read the manuscript out loud. It’s amazing how much I find.

   Moral of the story: When you’ve come to “The End,” rest assured your manuscript is not finished. It’s probably months away from being ready for publication. YOur MS needs to rest a while before you give it another read-through, and then it needs professional eyes. It’s a personal and financial consideration for each author, but please consider hiring a copy editor if you can afford it. 

   Caveat: Expect that if your manuscript is accepted by a publisher, their punctuation rules may differ from your copy editor’s input, and there could be more changes to be made…be flexible.


   Books make great gifts, and anthologies may be an even better option...a variety of authors and stories in one book...the gift that keeps on giving.

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Promo courtesy of Carrie Dalby Author


cj Sez: That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


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