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.
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.
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?’
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.
EDITOR – OK, 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 *