LET’S EAT GRANDMA The Importance of Proofreading by Kathy Ide
Grammar can be the bane of a writer’s life. But grammatical errors don’t just affect professional writers. I can’t count how many times I’ve read something and shaken my head at the mistakes I’ve noticed.
Editor Kathy Ide has written a new book, Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. Today, she’s sharing some of the reasons why we should pay special attention to proofreading. Though her focus is to writers, if you’re in business, these points matter for you, too. Thanks, Kathy!
Have you seen the plaques and T-shirts that say:
Let’s Eat Grandma.
Let’s Eat, Grandma.
Commas Save Lives.
I love that! It shows how one tiny bit of punctuation can change the entire meaning and tone of a sentence.
You may think that as long as you’ve got life-changing content in your nonfiction manuscript, or an intriguing story with lots of conflict and interesting characters in your fiction manuscript, that should be enough. And yes, content and story are extremely important. But no matter how good those things are, you’ll be running some pretty big risks if you don’t bother proofreading your manuscript carefully for typos, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies … and learning the industry-standard rules regarding punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling.
OK, you won’t be putting your grandmother’s life on the line or joining a tribe of cannibals. But tiny mistakes in your writing can have disastrous consequences.
Here are my top ten:
1. Mechanical errors can decrease your chance of acceptance by a traditional publisher.
2. Mechanical errors can cause miscommunication.
3. Mechanical errors can cause confusion.
4. Mechanical errors can give an unprofessional appearance to publishers and readers.
5. Mechanical errors can be embarrassing.
6. Mechanical errors may cause readers to take you and your message less seriously.
7. Mechanical errors can affect the sales of your book.
8. Mechanical errors could cost you money.
9. Mechanical errors can be distracting.
10. Mechanical errors can give you a poor reputation.
Professionalism Is Key
If you’re writing just for family and friends, it may not matter so much whether every comma is in exactly the right place or if you have a few typos here and there. But if you want to get your book published in today’s highly competitive commercial market, you need every edge you can get. If you expect people to buy what you write, you need to take the time to do it right.
If you have a hard time finding typos, inconsistencies, and “PUGS” errors in your writing, consider hiring a professional proofreader. If you go to www.ChristianEditor.com and fill out the form for Authors Seeking Editors, you’ll be connected with established, professional editors who can make your manuscript shine.
A comma may not save Grandma’s life. But a careful proofread might make a life-or-death difference for your manuscript.
Kathy Ide, author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, is a full-time freelance editor/mentor for new writers, established authors, and book publishers. She speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and director of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network and the Christian Editor Network. For more about Kathy, visit www.KathyIde.com. Or find Kathy Ide on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, ShoutLife, Goodreads, or Pinterest.
Pennsylvania Dutch say; Throw mama down the stairs her hat 🙂
Oh yikes! This post hits home because I am the Comma Queen. My philosophy: When in doubt, add a comma.
Great post, Kathy. Or should it be Great post Kathy. Hmmm…
Thanks for a Tuesday smile!
LOL! I think that best describes me, too, Dora. Then again, when we were in school, that was kinda what they taught–at least the way I remember it. 🙂
A lot of people add commas whenever they’re “in doubt.” But there are industry-standard guidelines for when commas should be used and when they shouldn’t. My “Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors” has a whole section on commas.
Thanks, Kathy! I guess I’m always in doubt. 🙂
That’s not at all surprising … or uncommon. Whenever I’m in doubt about a comma (or other punctuation), I go to the official “rule book.” Those rules can be confusing. That’s why I wrote my book–to give writers and editors a go-to guide that explains the rules of punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling in easy-to-understand language. Then I added tips from actual best-selling authors on proofreading for typos, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies. I honestly believe this is a valuable reference tool–especially for anyone who’s in doubt about commas and such!
I checked it out and I agree, Kathy, which is why I’ll definitely be getting a copy for myself. I liked Lena Nelson Dooley’s suggestion of starting at the back to proofread. I’ve never heard that one before.
I’m so grateful to the best-selling authors who contributed proofreading tips for this book. They came up with wonderful suggestions, many of which I used as I proofread the manuscript for my proofreading book! 🙂