I originally published this article as a guest author at http://timothy-oullette.blogspot.com/ and http://www.timouellette.com on August 8, 2014, but I felt that the information was important so I also shared in on my website. Since I continue to get questions about editing as an indie-author, I thought it might benefit my readers to repost it today. I hope you enjoy my take on Typos and Errors in Indie-Published Manuscripts. You can let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.
Are typos in a book a big deal?
Of course they are – to some extent! 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 – OR MORE) is going to slip through THE CRACKS. 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 – manuscripts 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 manuscript is 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! Even when you pay good money for these services 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, and I will give you some examples, but you have to remember that you are never going to please everyone. There will always be someone that finds something wrong with your book.
What can you do to ensure minimal typos and errors in your final manuscript?
Below is a list of tools (free and/or low cost) that all self-published authors 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 computer’s 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 a kid. 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 aloud 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 – 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. 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.
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?
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 and/or editing that needed to be fixed.
EDITOR – OK, this one costs money. 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 highly recommend – you don’t want to skimp! You get what you pay for!!! But, 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.