Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S = Save Up Your Money and Don't Skip the Final Edits

If you’ve invested in a copy editor, great! Your manuscript will benefit. If your copy editor does (as I do) copy edits and final proof, don’t skip that final step. It’s worth the small amount of money for the peace of mind it will bring.

The temptation might gnaw at you to skip the final proof. After all, it might save you those extra dollars, and it’s probably not needed, right? Well . . . it might and it might not.

The final proof ensures that, as far as is humanly possible, nothing was missed that should have been corrected. Whether it’s as insignificant as an extra space between words or as important as a character’s name change, a misspelling of a word, or a missing apostrophe, that final run-through is essential. The manuscript should be in good shape, unless something completely catastrophic happened. I don't know what goes on once the first round of edits leaves my hands: maybe the author didn't know how to approve the changes, maybe he only looked at the big red marks and not the small ones, or maybe she forgot to save the file, and none of the changes were actually made. This takes care of the "did I turn off the oven before leaving the house?" moment in the publishing world.

I believe I have a good eye for detail, but I’m often surprised at the number of “how did I miss that?” moments I have during the final proof of a book. There aren’t a huge lot of them, but even one or two per chapter makes me glad for one last opportunity to get it right.

42 comments:

  1. Every time I read my WiP I find a TON of tiny mistakes and some glaring ones. You are absolutely right about the benefits of proofing and editing by SOMEONE ELSE. You just don't want your baby to go out into the world with errors.

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    1. There's always something, whether large or small, that makes me SO glad to have that manuscript in my grubby mitts one last time.

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  2. Ma'am, yes, ma'am! ::Raises hand in salute::

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  3. Odd. Over at Goodreads, I suggested that more money spent (though I did say on marketing) = more success at the checkout stand. I was then thoroughly castigated by indies for suggesting the blasphemous notion that something that came out of their pens could be improved on by the mere expenditure of money. That's all right. I've been around the block two or three times, and have a pretty good idea how things work. So, apparently, do you. It will be interesting to see if you receive any pushback on this issue.

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    1. It's funny, Jack, how each person perceives that sort of thing. I don't think you have to spend an arm and a leg to have good work done (maybe just an arm, or a hand...), but everyone needs SOME type of help. I can't even catch every error in my own blog posts.

      I only know from my own experiences while editing...even when I think I've caught it all, the final run-through always catches one more thing.

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    2. It's just denial. Every time this topic comes up writers who want to publish but who don't have the money for editing either say, "it's not important" or "well I read my stuff several times and have a good friend look at it." I have a good friend who edits my stuff too, she's an editor and I pay her for the service.

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    3. Yes! I can be your friend and still hit you up for loot.

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    4. I'm perfect. I can just publish a rough draft and people are awed and want to know my editor. Since I don't have one, I always direct them to you. I know you can probably use the money. If only to keep you in wine and crackers. And dog biscuits, so you can keep Raymond satisfied.

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    5. I'm awed just reading your blog comments. I can't imagine what it will feel like to read an entire book of yours.

      Lol, dog biscuits for Raymond! He already thinks I throw him under the bus when we're on the GR threads. We'll give him good coffee instead. He pays well.

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    6. You haven't read my books? Shame on you. Here I thought I was talking to another Katla aficionado... Want me to send you Reprobate, so you know whether my writing will disgust you as much as my blog post tickle your funny bone?

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    7. Yes, and duh. Send it on over!

      It may take a couple weeks to fit it in, but from what I understand, I won't want to put it down, so I want to make sure I have the time blocked off.

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  4. Did I turn off the oven light - funny!
    I know how many times my publisher goes over my edits and corrections. It's important.

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    1. Extremely important! Once is just not enough, especially when changes are made after the first edit.

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  5. I can't do final edits on my own ms. I learned that the hard way. I was so sure I could do it. I couldn't. Like you, I was shocked at all those itsy mistakes that I'd made. Good advice. Hire an editor.

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    1. It's never a bad idea to do as much editing as you can on your own, because ultimately your final editing costs should be a little cheaper. But having those extra eyes...essential. It's always the dumb stuff that we can't believe we didn't spot the first time.

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    1. No, she wasn't taking about you and me, are stuff could go out on a napkin and people would love it...but it's good advice for the less "special" writers.

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    2. Thank you, Raymond, for saying exactly what I was going to say. Just another fine example of you stealing my ideas...

      Silver Fox, you're not what they term a "speshul snowflake" so we'll give you a pass on this one.

      Raymond...Raymond, Raymond...I'll save all my most special comments for your next manuscript, when you mail me the napkin.

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  7. Edits are the awesome. Honestly it is very important and once you do it you will be addicted to it.

    Brandon Ax: Writer's Storm

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    1. I would think it would just be a relief, if nothing else, to hand over your ms to someone and say, "YOU deal with it now."

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  8. If you AND your editor aren't completely SICK of your story by the time you hit publish, you haven't revised and edited enough.

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    1. Shoot. I still like yours. What does that say about me?

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  9. Having another set of eyes look over my work - more than once! - makes me feel so much better about sending it out into the world. :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption
    Minion, Capt. Alex's Ninja Minion Army
    The 2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge

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    1. "More than once" is the key. Sending it out into the world unprotected (a.k.a. unedited) would leave me feeling too vulnerable.

      I can't believe I hadn't seen your blog until today! I'm loving the flash fiction. Even the one-sentence story packed a wallop.

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  10. I hear you - loud and clear!
    I'm prepared to eat peanut butter and jam sandwiches with coffee if I have to, but I won't scrimp on the editing of my stuff... so save, I will...
    (I love pb & jam... anyway...)

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    1. You're not alone, Michelle. I've heard authors talking about eating ramen noodles or red beans & rice for months to save up for edits. I would be great with having peanut butter...mmm...you're making me hungry.

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  11. I am almost at that stage but in a bit of a stand still right now with finishing my book. I actually lost part of it when I switched to a new computer and thought it was backed up. What a depressing nightmare that was.

    Kimberly
    Blogging AtoZ "Things My Husband Has Broken"
    http://AMomsPointOfView.com

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    1. Oh, Kimberly! That really would be a nightmare! I once edited for someone who discovered after seven chapters that he'd sent me an old draft. I'd wondered at the sudden drop in writing quality and a character's name change...

      Maybe your husband was the one to back up your file? lol..."my husband broke my novel..."

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    2. I almost lost the entire manuscript for By Right of Arms when I had a hard drive crash. Luckily I had printed it out for someone and could scan it back in. I was terrified for a bout a week.

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  12. I keep telling you that name change was intentional.;) But really, Again Lynda you are right on the button. The final edits are 100% necessary. Blood and Steel had gone through 2 copy-editors before it came to me for final approval and there were still minor errors that I noticed right off. Another example is when you do the final walk-through before you buy or rent a house and you notice the water stain on the ceiling that turns out to be a major leak. Same before releasing your book.

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    1. Ha! No, the name change this time was in a manuscript, not a published book. Chapters 7 through the end were a whole different animal. Thankfully we were both able to laugh about it.

      Oh, house buying...we had that experience when moving to the home we now live in. We thought we looked at "everything" multiple times but realized the Realtor had steered us away from the areas she didn't want us inspecting too closely.

      As for your comment to Kimberly, I'm SO glad you were able to recover By Right of Arms, even if it was by scanning. What a panic moment that would be.

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  13. Hi Lynda

    One moment, please....That's better. Just had to shift a box off my keyboard :) I find I could read something over I wrote like a zillion times. Then I publish it and see the typo. Something like I can get my metters lixed.

    You make for a very interesting, thoughtful read, Lynda.

    Gary, who should probably get some sleep......

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    1. Gary, all that shag-shopping takes it out of a person. I can understand completely why you're tired.

      I can't even get my blog posts right the first time through.

      Get some rest and make sure to stop on by again!

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  14. You are SO right, Lynda!

    I thought I had my FINAL copy done with my editor.... Well, I sent it out to another CP, but I had no idea she was and editor as well... She found about another twenty or so typos... You just never know.

    It doesn't matter how many you times you have a read through, there is something lurking in the shadows. LOL.

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    1. Always the lurkers you have to watch out for. Um...for whom you have to watch...

      I can spot other people's mistakes at twenty paces. My own? Nope and nope again.

      Thanks for stopping by, Michael!

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  15. Really great points, Lynda. Especially when you are self-publishing, it's important to invest the extra time and money to make sure it's as perfect as humanly possible.

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    1. It really is an investment, rather than only an expenditure. I wish more people realized that.

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  16. Even after several read throughs by myself and my betas, then more by the editor and the proof reader...there are still mistakes in my books. Hiring a professional editor is a must.

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    1. Isn't that amazing how it works? Each fresh set of eyeballs will see something the others missed.

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  17. Good advice! I'm thinking of tackling the final editing step this summer, so I need to start exploring options.

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    1. The final proof always catches something. And I have been known to race back to my old file just to see if I really missed it or not . . . sure enough, I find myself saying, "It's not you, baby, it's me."

      If you're exploring options, make sure you take my letter "G" advice (listen to me, bossing you around, lol) and get free evals from a handful of editors so you know you've placed your ms in the best hands possible.

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I love comments, and will always answer them, partly because I like having the last word and partly because I just like getting to know the people who read my blog. (Note: if the post is more than a couple weeks old, your comment will automatically go into the "needs approval" folder, but I will still publish it and reply!)