Spot the deliberate mistake in the heading?
As a career journalist and a newspaper sub-editor since the mid-80s these things have become second nature to me.
That’s probably why the one thing that is guaranteed to put me off reading a book – and this can happen in traditionally published novels, too, though mainly I am talking about indies – is when I find loads of grammatical or silly literal mistakes in it.
A few people have encouraged me to read their books in the past and I have found myself grimacing and swearing under my breath at the silly mistakes that have been allowed to slip through the net.
In one particular book the protagonists’ names kept changing or the wrong person was credited with speaking a line not meant for them.
The thing is that these things are so easily avoidable. The more people who read your work before you sign off on it, the better.
An editor is important to help the book flow and make sure you don’t get bogged down in too many details, but if you feel they are suggesting changes that you consider detrimental to your story you can always over-rule them. Beta readers, too, particularly those who agree to read your work but don’t particularly have a close relationship with you, can give really helpful advice.
A spelling mistake or glaring punctuation error is not a matter for discussion, though, which is why a professional proofreader is so important.
My wife Liz has just passed a proofreading course and the fact she is a production journalist with years of experience means she already has a head start. She proofed my book, her father’s and has recently taken on some independent work. Why not check out her website and make an inquiry? Her fees are very reasonable but if not Liz, make sure you seek out the services of a professional in the field.
Plug over. The reason I am writing this is that last night after a busy shift in the day job we got talking about a friend who set up a magazine. It is all going quite well but he is tearing his hair out over some of the silly errors that creep into it. His partner is an enthusiastic techie who can handle all the layout and print issues, but lets silly mistakes slip through the net through carelessness and the desire to do things quickly, failing to realise irreparable harm is being done to the overall product.
I’ve just found this article on a website which gives plenty of stats about why people are likely to stop reading books and most of them can directly or indirectly be put down to the editing and proofreading process. Check it out here