Typos and Errors in Published Manuscripts

I originally published this article (or a version of this article) as a guest author on another blog, that no longer seems to exist, on August 8, 2014. However, I felt that the information was important enough that I wanted it in my blog feed as well, so I published it here… in 2014.

It has been almost a whole 5 years since the information was first published and it is still relevent… with some minor changes.

<wink wink>

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy my take on Typos and Errors in Indie-Published Manuscripts – in all manuscripts really. I hope you let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Editing

Are typos in a book a big deal?

Of course they are – to some extent! Typos happen. Let me say that again, TYPOS HAPPEN! Typos happen in books that are self-published and traditionally published. Typos happen to new authors and seasoned authors. Typos happen in eBooks and print books. It doesn’t matter how many people you have edit, proof read, re-read, etc. there is always a chance a typo (or two – or three – or four) is going to slip through. Does that mean the world is over, the author should never write again, or that the author should lose all credibility? NO!

Let me say that again – NO!

It goes without saying, although I will say it, that every author should take the time and effort to make their manuscript the best that it can be. Not only do readers deserve the best product an author can provide, authors deserve to produce their best work – which they can be proud of for years to come!

You might be asking yourself, ‘how do I, as a self-published author without the backing of a traditional publishing house, afford to make sure that my manuscripts are ready for publication?’

Good Question!

Editors, proof-readers, and copy-writing services all cost money! Plus, and here is the catcher, even professional editors, proof-readers, and copy-writing service professionals make mistakes! Yes, they are only human! Even when you pay good money for services like these, you can’t be 100% sure your manuscript is flawless. That doesn’t mean you should just accept the fact that typos happen and therefore you don’t need to worry about them. There are a lot of things you can do to ensure that you publish your best work. I’ve listed some examples of things I do below, but just remember you are never going to please everyone. There will always be someone who finds something wrong with your book.

What can you do to ensure minimal typos and errors in your final manuscript?

Below is a partial list of tools (free and/or low-cost) that I believe all authors (self-published or traditionally published) should be using:

SPELLCHECK – I LOVE spellcheck. No matter what I am working on I have spellcheck set to mark spelling and grammatical errors while I am typing. No, it doesn’t always catch misused words – but it is a great start to catching those words frequently misspelled. You can also add words to your computers dictionary. This is a great way to allow your computer to know that names (or other words) you use frequently are not incorrectly typed.

READING ALOUD – Yes, just like you did when you were in elementary school. One of the reasons teachers have their students read out loud is because we often retain more information when we hear text read out loud. For me, as an author, I like to either read my books out loud to myself or have someone else read them to me as I follow along. The down side to this is that it can be a rather lengthy process, but the upside is that it allows me to catch words that have been misused and dialog that doesn’t sound natural.

FIND / REPLACE – If you don’t use this Microsoft Word tool yet – YOU NEED TO! Microsoft can find just about anything from double commas or periods, extra spaces, repeat words, etc. Once you find them you can fix them. Although, what I really like about this feature is that you can easily replace mistakes with corrections. [Example: FIND: .. REPLACE WITH: .] Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to just trust your computer to make all of your corrections for you. When I do a search for an error I look at each of the results and decide if I want the correction to be made.

TEST READERS (AKA BETA READERS) – Or as I like to call them guinea pigs! My mom, my sister, and a number of my friends have all been my willing and loyal test subjects in this area. They have read, edited, and re-read all of my books throughout the writing process looking for errors that I might have missed. They are also a great resource when it comes to finding plot holes, unintentional cliffhangers, etc. It isn’t easy seeing your manuscript covered in red edits, but trust me this process makes your final manuscript much better than it would be with only you reading and reviewing it. Just make sure you get test readers who are willing to give you an honest critique. You won’t always like what they say, but try to listen with an open mind because they are only trying to help.

PRO WRITING AID – This is an online writing editor and personal writing coach. It checks grammar and spelling; helps to improve overall readability; finds overused words; improves dull paragraph structure; locates repeat words and phrases; checks for consistency of spelling; hyphenation and capitalization; warns you about clichés and redundancies; and so much more. I learned about this tool through a friend that does line editing as a freelancer. She told me that it was an inexpensive way to help improve writing as you go and that it was extremely user-friendly – SHE WAS RIGHT! I highly suggest trying it out. What is the worst that could happen? Want to try Pro Writing Aid, start your free trial by clicking HERE!

The Hemingway Editor App – You can use the free online version or, for just $19.99 you can down load a desktop (Windows and/or Mac) version. $19.99 is not much for such a great tool. The Hemingway App cuts the dead weight from your writing. It highlights passive voice, adverbs, weak language, confusing language, and lengthy/structurally complex sentences and, in many cases, gives suggestions for changes. For a really great review and comparison to similar products, click HERE! To download your copy of The Hemingway Editor desktop version, click HERE.

ARC – Advance Reader Copies! Okay, once your manuscript is complete, as complete as you feel you can make it, you need to offer advance reader copies. This is a great way to get feedback. You can request feedback in the form of reader notes and/or book reviews. I have even gone so far as providing a list of questions at the end of the advance reader copies I have sent out, this helped me to target key areas of my story, character development, dialogue, and/or editing that needed to be fixed.

EDITOROK, this one costs money, sometimes a significant amount – it depends on the length of your manuscript and the experience level of the editor. All of the tools above are free or can be done at a very low-cost, however hiring an editor is not cheap. If you decide to go this route – which I did – you do not want to skimp! You get what you pay for. however, you still have to remember – Editors are only HUMAN, they make mistakes too! Again, there is no way to guarantee – 100% – that your manuscript isn’t going to have typos or errors.

My novels may still have errors – heck, even award-winning authors sometimes have errors in their novels – but I can honestly say that I have taken all possible steps to ensure that the books I publish are the best they can possibly be. So, if there are still a few errors, as I am sure there are, then I’m OK with that. I’m happy with my finished products and that truly is all an author can ask for.

* Written by: Nina Soden *

4 KEY INGREDIENTS FOR A STRONG BOOK LAUNCH & CONSISTENT SALES

woman reading book

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

KEY INGREDIENTS FOR A STRONG BOOK LAUNCH AND CONSISTENT BOOK SALES:

• Cover Design – YES, people do judge books by their covers! The cover is your books first impression, if people don’t like it they aren’t going to pick it up to read the back blurb (2nd impression).

• Detailed Editing – The more editing the better! Readers will give your book on average 1-3 chapters to impress them, often less.

• Strong Story – Some editing issues can be forgiven as long as your story is strong.

• Marketing – You should start marketing your book at least 6 months prior to the actual book release date.

I want to know your thoughts too!!! Comment below and share your suggestions for ensuring a successful book launch and consistent sales after your book has been published!

Picking the right editor!

editorAs a self-published author, the idea of finding an editor can be very daunting. Everywhere you look, there are a thousand people, with a wide range of experience, offering editing services that vary in price and level of detail. To say that making a decision on which editor is right for your project is easy would be stating a blatant lie. With so many choice… to many choices… you may be tempted to just hire the first editor you meet, but that could turn out to be the biggest mistake you could make for your manuscript. 

I consider myself lucky, in that I was able to find and connect with an editor early on who I feel really “gets” my writing style and author voice. Does that mean I would never hire a different editor? No, but it means that while things are working… we’ll keep working. Writing is a very personal experience. You spend days… weeks… months… and often years planning and writing your manuscript. It is important to find an editor who not only values your project but also your individual voice and style as an author. 

Considering I only published my first novel, Awaken (book 1 ~ The Blood Angel Series) back in 2012, I still think of myself as fairly new to the publishing game… publishing world. However, in that short time and with 7 novels (and a few author assistance guides) under my belt now, I have come up with a list of things that I believe are important to do/think about when picking the right editor for you. 

#1. Decide what type of editing help you’re looking for

  • Beta-Readers
  • Developmental/Substantive Editor
  • Content Editor
  • Copyeditor
  • Proofreader

Keep in mind that you will more than likely need more than one editor/edit pass on your book. I usually do a series of beta-reader edits and then a minimum of 3 professional rounds of edits. For more detail on the different types of edits, check out Shayla Raquel’s blog post, What Kind of Editor Do You Need?

#2. Determine your budget
It is important, before choosing an editor, to know exactly how much you have available to spend on editing. Be realistic, spend what you can afford right now, not what you think you can cover with book sales. Editing is important. In fact, it is essential to the success of your book. However, it DOES NOT SELL YOUR BOOK ON IT’S OWN!!! The book cover and the story you’ve written are what sells the book… the editing plays a huge part in the readers decision to continue reading, what kind of review (if any) they give your book, and whether or not they buy your next book. 

Once you’ve decided on a budget, don’t deviate. I recommend having an editing price range… What I want to spend and what I’m willing to spend if I find an editor that I just love!

#3: Do your research and make a list
Do your research and create a list of editors to include contact information, experience, offered services, pricing, client reviews/ratings, and what genres the editor works in (if applicable). An editor whose only experience is in technical manuals might not be the right editor for your Sci-Fi novel.

There are a thousand ways to get this information, but I recommend doing a Google search; request recommendations from fellow authors; Search LinkedIn and upwork.com; search online author forums on NaNoWriMo, Goodreads, and any other author chat boards you can find!

Once you have a complete list of editors you should be able to find those that stand out above the rest.

#4: Narrow down your options
Start by deleting editors off the list.

  • Delete anyone that is absolutely out of your price range
  • Delete anyone who doesn’t offer the editing services you need
  • Delete anyone with less than adequate education or experience
  • Delete them if they just seem like they won’t be a good fit
  • Delete them if they don’t have experience in your genre
  • Delete them if their turnaround time wont meet your deadline
  • Delete them if they have negative client reviews/ratings

Don’t feel bad about being picky – you should be picky when picking your editor! What you should have left is a list editors whose price range, turnaround time, service offerings, education and experience, meet your expectations.

#5: Request a sample edit and complete reviews
Now is the time to make sure you select an editor you can work with. This person is someone you have to be able to trust… trust to help you mold and shape your manuscript… your creative baby! You can’t just pick an editor because they offer the services you need at a price you can afford. You want to be confident in your choice and the fact that their assistance is going to help move your story forward, and not backward.

The best way to do that is to review sample edits. Most good editors will offer a free sample edit or consultation on a few pages of your manuscript. If the editor isn’t willing to do this, delete them off your list and move on.

Take advantage of this opportunity for a sample edit, but don’t expect to send a different chapter of your manuscript to twenty different editors and call that a round of edits.  This is your chance to really get a feel for what it would be like to work with a particular editor. Send the same 2-3 page sample to all your prospective editors so you can compare their work – apples to apples. The more samples you get the easier it will be to choose the right editor for you.

Once you have as many sample edits as you can get, compare them! Look to see if the editor did a good job marking errors in punctuation, grammar, syntax, and work usage. (Tip: I like to include some specific errors when I send my sample… It allows me to test the editors and see who catches the errors and who doesn’t.) If the editor made suggestions/comments on sentence structure or dialogue, or how was their tone? Did they seem constructive or condescending? Did the editor keep their text suggestions within the same voice and style that you prefer? 

You are looking for an editor who not only has the technical abilities to edit your manuscript but also the skills to work with one on one with you and respect your creative process and writing style. This isn’t just about one book… on manuscript. If you can find an editor you work well with, an editor who understands your style and is willing and able to work within it, then you can build a wonderful working relationship with them. Like I said before, I’ve been working with the same editor now for 7 novels and I know exactly what I will get from her every time… LOTS OF AWESOME SUGGESTIONS AND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM!  

#6: Hire your editor
Hopefully you were able to find an editor that gave you a great sample edits, with lots of awesome suggestions, who also respected your creative voice that seems like they would be easy to work with. If so, HIRE THEM! Hire them A.S.A.P. before someone else scoops them up and they are no longer available. There are a thousand editors ready to offer you their services, but finding a good one can be hard. When you find that good one… the needle in the haystack you grab them fast!

On the other hand, if you weren’t able to find the perfect editor – try again. Hiring an editor can be expensive, don’t settle for someone you aren’t excited about. Wait until you are sure you’ve found the right editor before putting out the money.

I have one last piece of advice and I say this not to scare you but to prepare you – The editing process sucks! You’ve worked long and hard to write your story… It isn’t easy to get it back from an editor who has had it a couple of weeks, maybe a month, and see it covered in bright red markings. Each edits poking at your soul like a personal insult.

With that said, as hard as it is to see your marked up manuscript, you don’t want an editor who will just tell you everything is great. That isn’t what you pay an editor for and in the end it would be a waste of your money. You want someone who will be completely honest with you, no matter how bad it hurts. 

When I got my first manuscript back from my editor, I cried. I took one look at it, flipped through the pages and cried. I didn’t pick it back up for a month. Then, when I finally took the time to read her edits, consider her suggestions, and really think about my story I knew she was right. In the end, my story is so much better because of the care and time she and I spent working through the issues the original manuscript had. It doesn’t matter how good of a writer you are, in the end your editor will – if they are good – find things that MUST BE CHANGED in order to make your story the best it can be.  

Don’t pick an editor who makes you feel great about yourself, pick the editor that cares more about making your story great than coddling your feelings.  

I think my computer hates me!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very good with technology. I can turn on my computer and use the programs… most of them… ok, some of them, but much more than that and I’m lost.

My kids are the IT department of my house and will probably run their own technology firm some day, if they don’t secretly have one already. I’m not kidding, my kids know more about my computer and phone than I do!

Blue screen of death… “Kids, mommy needs you!”

Phone screen freezes… “Kids, mommy needs you!”

iPad tells me it hasn’t been backed up in 18 weeks… “Kids, mommy needs you!”

When I was their age, we didn’t have a home computer, much less portable tablets. Phones, well there was no such thing as a cell phone back then. Our phones were still tethered to the wall with a coiled cord. If you wanted privacy you pulled the phone as far from the kitchen as you could, stretching the cord till you could almost hear it cry. More often than not you found yourself sitting in a closet, your head on the floor next to the phone as you tried to whisper loud enough that your friends would still hear you. The day I got my own bedroom phone… a bright yellow Pac-man phone… WAS AMAZING!!! It was like my parents had handed me the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. 

I never dreamed of carrying a pocket-sized phone around with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cell phone. Cell phones are cool. I am constantly connected… phone calls, emails, internet searches, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, blah blah blah, INSERT NEXT NEW APP HERE!!! WE ARE ALWAYS CONNECTED…

But seriously, cell phones are great for safety. I love that my kids have them and can reach me whenever they need to… but love it more when they want to. With all that said, I’m sure my next statement is of the unpopular brand… I think cell phones have killed childhood. OK… that’s a topic for another post. 

The whole point of my post ‘I think my computer hates me’ was to say this:

I often feel like my computer deliberately deletes my files! There, I’ve said it. My computer deliverately deletes my files! What is that? What did I do to my computer to make it hate me so much? I backup everything… I have thumb-drives (do people still call them thumb-drives or is it flash-drives now?) for all my work and I keep a downloaded backup (multiple in fact) of everything I do. Yet, the other day, after discovering that 5 of my 7 eBooks had somehow mysteriously disappeared from Amazon, I tried to find the files on my computer and THEY WERE GONE!

Shock!

Fear!!

Terror!!!

To say that I was freaking out would be putting it nicely. Luckily I found a way to get the files… but my computer didn’t make it easy… the files weren’t formatted.

NO FORMATTING AT ALL!

Paragraphs and chapters ran into each other like one long run on. How does something like this happen? I tried everything, but in the end I ended up spending hours re-formatting one book… I have four more to do… FOUR MORE! 

I’ll look on the bright side… I haven’t read those books in a while, so at least I get to reconnect with some of my past characters. I have missed them.

Has something like this ever happened to you? If so, tell me your story and what you did to fix it. Misery loves company, right? 

 

‘How do I Edit my Own writing?’ 5 easy steps

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I came across the following article in my weekly Pinterest email updates. I was intrigued by the title… as an author, I’m sure you can understand why I would be.

‘How do I edit my own writing?’ 5 easy steps

After reading the article, I have to admit… I mostly agree. I say ‘mostlyagree’ because I believe there is a 6th step to editing my own writing. So, let’s break it down right here, starting with the 5 listed in the original article. There is a link to the original article at the end of this post. 

Step 1: Take a break – I couldn’t agree more… You have to step away from your work in order to come back and see it with a fresh set of eyes.

“Another reason to take a break is that you need the distance from the work. In a way, you need to forget about the book. On returning to it, you might be surprised to find passages that you don’t remember writing; passages that affect you emotionally as though someone else were the author.”

YES! I never thought this would be true, but it is. I recently  went back and reread my first novel, published in 2012, and it was like reading some of it for the first time. I LOVED being surprised by my own writing.

Step 2: Get organised – As someone who prides herself on being organized, I totally agree with this step. However, I don’t think it only applies to the editing portion of writing. When I’m writing I need an organized workplace so that I can feel free to create and comfortable enough to do the research necessary to complete my daily writing goals. YES… SETTING GOALS IS VERY IMPORTANT, both during the writing process and the editing process.

“Make a schedule for your revision just as you did for writing your novel. Set a goal and stick to it. Think about what other tools might help you with your revision. You’ll need some kind of system to take notes and keep track of things. The system that works best for you depends on you. You might choose to use multicoloured index cards or sticky notes, spreadsheets, a notebook with sections and multicoloured pens, or a physical filing drawer, for example.”

Multicoloured index cards, sticky notes, spreadsheets, a notebook with sections and multicoloured pens… I’m getting excited about organization already. This blogger sounds like she has been reading my mind or watching me through my office window. LOL

“Learning how to write a book is a rigorous exercise in focus and discipline.”

Take note, that is the most important piece of advice/knowledge/wisdom in this section. People quit things that are hard… it’s true! You might be thinking, no I can do this the story is already in my head. I can tell you, getting your story out of your head and onto the paper or computer screen is the easy part – AND STILL PEOPLE QUIT! The hard work comes when the story is written and you have to edit, market, publicise, sell, sell, sell.

Step 3: Develop a plan – I agree with the points of the blogger in this section. However, I feel that developing a plan is part of Step 2: Get Organised! I believe the two sections go hand in hand. However, you should ready both sections within the original article.

Step 4: Make multiple passes – YES! YES! YES! Like I said above, the hard work comes after the story is written. Editing isn’t as simple as reading your story and making sure you’ve used spell check. Do MULTIPLE passes when you edit, looking at different things each time: flow, plot, character development, grammar, punctuation, etc., etc., etc.

 

Step 5: Get feedback – Now, the author of the original article feels that feedback is your final step… and I don’t NOT agree (yes, I know that’s a double negative), but I want to take it one step further and say there are two steps to getting feedback. I will address the second step to getting feedback below, in step 6.

Ask your friends, family, writing groups, reading groups, teacher friends, etc. to read your manuscript. Find anyone you can you might be interested and ask them to read it.

“The value of having others look over your work is that they will spot mistakes or inconsistencies you might miss because you are so immersed in the text you’ve written.”

It doesn’t matter how many times you read your own manuscript… YOU WILL MISS THINGS!

Step 6: HIRE AN EDITOR – Yes, this article is called ‘How do I Edit my Own Writing’ but the best advice I can give you on how to edit your own writing is… DON’T. Yes, you should do everything listing above in steps 1-5, but you should never rely on yourself to be the only editor of your manuscript. As I said above in Step 5… It doesn’t matter how many times you read your own manuscript… YOU WILL MISS THINGS! 

I am not saying you have to spend thousands of dollars on an editor. You don’t need to go to the bookstore, sift through books within your genre, figure out who the most popular editors are and then attempt to contact them. NO!!! But, if you are serious about your novel, put a little time and money into making it the best novel it can be. Go to http://www.upwork.com and hire a freelance editor. Find someone who has experience and good reviews. Get a fresh set of eyes on your manuscript. It doesn’t have to be expensive to get good editing. What is costly, are the bad reviews you will receive for publishing a poorly edited novel. They will lead to pulling the book… rereading… revising…re-editing… again and again. TRUST ME, I KNOW!

Now, my process for steps 5 and 6 for each of my books are as follows:

  • I read, edit, read, edit, read, edit… my own manuscript multiple times.
  • Submit for edits to beta readers (at least 5 beta readers). After each beta reader… I read, edit, read, edit, etc.
  • Submit to a professional editor (3 – 5 rounds of edits)
  • Submit for final review to beta readers (2-3 beta readers)
  • One final read through – Just me.

Finishing your novel can be amazing, but remember editing is not an optional step in the process. It is part of writing, an essential part if you want to be successful. By taking the time to go through all the steps listed above, you save yourself time and heartache later on down the road.

Got any question? Ask below… I’m happy to answer.

Link to the original article: ‘How do I edit my own writing?’ 5 easy steps

New Adventure – UPDATE

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On September 12th I announced that I was starting a new adventure in my writing. I had begun writing a new story on September 3rd. My goal was to have the first draft completed by the end of the month (September). Well, that didn’t happen BUT I did complete the first draft by October 3rd which works for me.

 

My process has been slightly different for this book. I’m working on my document in the cloud! I feel like there should be a drum roll or something when I say that. Anyway, I have three beta-readers that always do my initial content/grammar edits and since I was working in the cloud I was able to share the document for editing purposes. I am so excited to announce that not only am I done with my first draft, but one of my editors has completed her read/review/edit/etc. and I have already incorporated her changes and made some major rewrites based on her suggestions. One beta-reader down… two to go. The document has already been shared with them and I am hoping to have their edits by the end of this month (wishful thinking? maybe).

GOAL LIST:

* Come up with a title for the story (novel)
* Get the final draft off to the editor by the end of November
* Have the cover design complete by the end of November
* Have first edit complete by December 15th
* Have final edit complete by January 15th
* Book release – END OF JANUARY

OK, my goal list might be a little ambitious, considering it is all dependent on the schedule of other people. I have no idea of my final two beta-readers will be able to finish the story by the end of this month or if my editor will be available during the month of December – holidays and all. But, if all else fails I can push everything two months and release at the end of March… worst case scenario (I hope).

 

In the meantime… I will be working on the next book! Oh, and trying to figure out the title, designing the cover, working my full-time job, and living the life of a mother, wife, etc. YES – I WEAR MANY HATS!

The Editing Process…

editing2Edit: To prepare (written material) for publication by correcting, condensing, or otherwise modifying it.

Editing: The act of putting something (a written work such as a literary work) into acceptable form.

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When you decide to right write a book… you have to understand and accept that editing is all part of the process. The worst WORST part! YET ESSENTIAL!!!

Yes in the end the editing process makes your book story novel the best it can be. However, the moment you get your manuscript back from the editor… and it is covered COVERED in RED ink INK… WOW!!! Your heart stops!

At least mine does.

I imagine my editor sitting at her desk stacking piles and piles of red pens… brand new – fresh out of the box on the desk in front of her.

Red Pens

 

I can almost feel her excitement, from a thousand miles away, as she gets ready to strick strike that first line across the page. Yup, her joy is my pain!

The waiting… that time between sending her the manuscript and getting her mutilated improved  mutilate yet improved copy back… is almost as bad as the first ten seconds after opening the package after it arrives in the mail.

I SAID ALMOST!

But, I won’t lie, after I’ve spent the next few weeks reading and rereading all of her edits, comments, deletions, additions, etc. etc. I do have a better understanding of what will  is needed to make my book better the best it can be. Then, after spending a couple of week on rewrites… well, I feel more confident that sending the manuscript off to the editor AGAIN isn’t going to be as painful.

My process is this: write – edit – rewrite – edit – rewrite – edit – rewrite – edit – rewrite – final edit – final rewrite – final review by editor – final review by me – format – review – format edits – review – and so on… until publication!

I do not don’t use only one  1 editor… I have a team of editors. Why? Well, because if you read someone reads the same thing document over and over you they start seeing what the words should be instead of what they are. I like to have a fresh set of eyes to edit at different stages of the process.

THAT IS WHERE I AM TODAY!!!

I have gone through all the edits, all the comments, all the changes my editors could come up with. Yes, I accepted most of them but not all! I am now ready to move forward with the final round of edits. This round is purely for grammar – spelling – punctuation – etc. NOT TO CHANGE THE PLOT, CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, OR THE STORY! I want the book to have my voice – not the editor’s voice.

As my son’s karate teacher would say…

“BRING IT ON!”