Your Reputation as a Writer

Are you a writer? Do you care about your writing?

Are you satisfied to publish your work for the world to see, when the quality of your writing is less than perfect? Sadly, some writers don’t care, but believe me, readers care.

Not many writers have flawless manuscripts.  Creativity and the mechanics of writing don’t always go together. Working with a good copy-editor  is essential.

I am a writer and a copy-editor–a good one, I think–and still, before I publish anything, I have another writer read my work and then I hire a copy-editor to read it again. I am always amazed at what they find.

I could read my own words over ten times and not see a mistake, but when I read someone else’s words, any mistakes would leap off the page at me. Why is that?

An author knows what their sentences are going to say. Our brain tricks us into thinking that those words are there, and, especially if we are reading silently, we tend to gloss over errors. When reading someone else’s work, we don’t know what is coming, so we see the mistakes more easily.

Why should you care if your writing is perfect or not?

Readers buy books expecting quality for the money they pay. As a writer, it is your obligation to give them your best.  It is a matter of pride and reputation. Do you want to be known as a good writer, or a sloppy one? Do you only want to publish a “one-hit wonder” and never write again? Would you want people to “wonder” why you bothered to publish that carelessly written “one hit”?

I’ve heard many readers say, “When I see one mistake, okay, I can overlook it, but when there is another and another, I lose track of the story and find myself just looking for that next mistake.” What a horrible thing for someone to say about your book. But so true!

When I skim over the first few pages of a book to see if I want to read it, I usually find bits of dialogue to see how that is written. If it has complicated dialogue tags, such as “inquired, responded, answered, replied, questioned,” and “shouted,” instead of “said” and “asked,” I move on to look for another book. Dialogue tags should be like punctuation–important, but not “in your face.”

I look for correct usage of ordinary words such as “its, it’s, your, you’re, their, there,” and “they’re.” I look for incorrect capitalization of “mom, dad, spring, summer, fall, winter, north, south, east, west, sir, madam, heaven, hell,” and many other words. (Note that “Mom and Dad” would be capitalized, but “my mom and my dad” would not be.)

In a short sample of writing, I can usually tell whether the work has been copy-edited or not.

Yes, it costs to have work copy-edited, but the price is not unreasonable. Your reputation hangs on the quality of your writing, and once the work is cleaned up, it will stay that way forever. Unedited work also stays that way and your damaged reputation as a careless writer could follow you around forever too.

Copy-editors  do much more than correct those examples I’ve given. They will check:

  • your sentences for balance to make sure your verbs match the subject
  • if you’ve omitted or repeated words or information
  • grammar
  • punctuation
  • spelling, including homonyms
  • hyphenation
  • capitalization
  • extra spaces
  • verb tense and usage, especially for problem verbs such as “lie, lay, laid, lain”
  • point-of-view errors
  • clichés, and many other errors you may have inadvertently made.

Please visit my website and click on the page for copy-editing if you are interested in having a few pages of your work copy-edited for free.

http://www.anneli-purchase.com

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Copy-editing Fun

Here is a fun exercise for writers. I’ve taken part of a travel adventure and purposely put many mistakes into it. How many can you find? Count them and tell us in the comment section. I haven’t included the kind of mistakes that involve number of spaces between words or sentences, or repeated words. This exercise is very basic, showing just a sample of the most obvious mistakes that a copy-editor will find for you. Believe me, in the world of “pre-publishing,” many manuscripts look worse than the sample of writing below, but a copy-editor can save you from disgracing yourself.

So, are you  “up” for the challenge? Why not give it a try?

Travel from Italy to Greece

An alternative to driving the long way around from Italy to Greece to go by car ferry. On the day we want to make the trip many years ago, third class tickets for the “Mediterranean sea,” were sold out, so we had to buy First Class. After waiting in line for hours, our VW van was crammed a board, into one of the last available spaces, a cubby hole with a low cieling and steal walls on 3 sides.

Three days later, when it was time to unload, this cubacle became an oven. Tempatures soaring over 100 F. and the Chaos of impatient passengers and disorganized unloading practices had us nearly suffocating on the engine exhaust of cars started way too soon in the closed in car deck. (In those days in Italy, there was no safety regulations such as we have in Canada now-a-days.) An over-eager passenger in dire need of driving lessons backed up his trailor at a wierd angel behind us, making it impossible for us to move. Trapped in the scorching cubacle I felt like a chicken in a slow cooker.

If you have writing that needs the expert eye of a copy-editor, please visit my webpage anneli-purchase.com and click on the copy-editing page. I can do a free sample of editing for you.