Monday, March 6, 2017

I SENT WHAT?! by Hilary Wagner




We've all done it. I don't care how well published you are or how new to the industry you are, but we've all sent something out with a big fat humbling and in most cases highly visible typo--and many times more than one. It's unavoidable. No matter how many times you read through a manuscript, you are bound to miss things. It's simply part of being human and how the brain works.

Now then, If you've recently sent a manuscript out to an agent or editor and realized you've left in some conspicuous typos, don't freak out. Take a step back and know that it happens to everyone. Besides, if someone was going to bounce you out of consideration for a typo or two (or even a couple more) in your 250 page manuscript, possibly it's someone you wouldn't want to work with anyhow. Clearly, there are flagrant typos, wherein the reader is tripping over typos in every paragraph, that's not going to fly, but everyone, from writers, to agents, to editors, miss things now and again. After all, we are only human and if humans were perfect, there would never be typos in published books--bestselling books--books that have been combed through by the author, the editor, readers, and copy editors, BEFORE they hit the shelves. In other words, it happens. It does. Period.

Tips for catching typos:
Print it out: Print out the full manuscript. Somehow a lot more typos slip by the naked eye staring at a monitor than when you hold the physical manuscript, knocking out typos like Mike Tyson with your almighty red pen.

Read your work out loud: This requires you to read every word from start to finish. Time consuming and dry throat inducing? Yes, but a lot more effective than skimming through it silently.

Let your work sit a while: This is a hard one for me, as I'm about as patient as a starving bear, but do it. Even if it's just for a few days, let your work sit. This will cause you to read your words more thoroughly and thoughtfully, rather than flying through something you were just working on.

A second set of eyes: When time permits, I always have my husband read through my work before I send it off. Since he's reading it for the first time, it's far easier for him to catch "to" versus "too" than it would be for my eyes, which at this point in the process, have gone blind to the little things.

Okay, truth time. In my first manuscript I had typos. After I caught them (which was after I hit "send") I sat at my laptop and cringed, wondering how on earth I could have missed something so glaringly obvious. I probably read through the manuscript at least 50 times, but there they were in all their glory, "shutters" instead of "shudders", "there" instead of "their". You get the picture. I wondered if I'd be automatically rejected based on this, but I learned editors get it. They understand how things get missed. It's about your impelling story not your misspelling of "accommodate".

In the end, I got published! Luckily, the typos did not. ;)

Long story short, there will generally be normal inconsequential typos somewhere in something you send out. Don't sweat it. It doesn't change your story or your hard work. It only makes you human.

PS: If there are typos in this post, please blame someone else. :)

Hilary

9 comments:

  1. No typos, as far as I could see--but I haven't yet read it out loud to my patient dog, who gets the brunt of my home-alone writer's mania.

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    1. Ha! Dogs are very good listeners! :)

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  2. Yikes! You are so correct. The scrutiny of it though.

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    1. I know, it's so intense! It's so hard not to beat yourself up. :)

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  3. I have done worse. I recently made a last-minute change to a query letter, using voice recognition software, and didn't notice that it used their instead of there. Until after I sent it to my dream agent. Groan!

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    1. I don't know a single writer who hasn't had a cringe-worthy moment like that. Luckily we have chocolate and salty snacks to help ease the pain. :)

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  4. I'm pretty sure there's at least one glaring typo in every one of my published books. It's pretty humbling, to be reading aloud to some kids and suddenly find yourself stumbling over a misspelled word--yikes! Yet another way the career of a writer is endless Practice in Letting Go. :)

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    1. I've read glaring typos in best-sellers. It goes through so many hands by the time it gets to print. I'm surprised they're aren't more. Even the best software programs geared to catch grammar mistakes are going to get things wrong. Practice in Letting Go, love it!!!!

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  5. Reading aloud is key for me! I can skim when reading silently. The eye likes to skip over all those unnecessary words at times. Even with editors and publishers reviewing, typos happen when published too. A publisher once told me that 20 typos in a book is acceptable and they won't re-edit if less than that after it's published (think about a full novel at 90K or so and 20 seems such a tiny number). I am reading a huge bestseller right now turned into a movie and already caught 2 typos by page 80! Yes, so please everyone, forgive yourself :)

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!