When was the last time you read a book that you really, really enjoyed? And what was it about that book that made you really, really enjoy it?
Obviously, I can’t answer those questions exactly for you. But I’m guessing your responses aren't too far away from my own. For my part, I find myself getting into books with:
An engaging plot
Dialogue that works
A well-developed setting that compliments the other elements.
Do you know what doesn’t automatically disqualify a book as being enjoyable (at least to me)?
Believe it or not, that would be typos.
Typos aren’t an awesome addition to a story, of course. But they’re not the worst thing in the world either. When I’m reading a book for enjoyment’s sake, I honestly don’t care if there’s a typo per page.
With that said, if you’re a writer with any intention of publishing your work, your goal should be to have as few of those editorial nuisances as possible. That’s why I’ve compiled a short list of some common ones I’ve found in especially self-published books.
Once you know to look for them, your chances of joining the poorly self-published book authors definitely goes down.
Okay, yes, that's not really a typo. But it still doesn’t lend to a professionally published feel.
Back in the old days of publishing, when the dinosaurs were still roaming the earth and writers were etching their stories in stone, long paragraphs were fine. In fact, long paragraphs meant there was more room per page to work with. That isn’t so much of a problem now though. In fact, thanks to online reading, people’s eyes and brains are much more used to digesting smaller paragraphs… to the point where anything over six lines long is going to start looking a bit bulky. To avoid that unattractive appearance, look for spots where:
A new character starts talking
A different topic is introduced
Something specific needs to be emphasized.
Those all make for good spots to add in a paragraph break.
Don’t ask me why we self-published authors hyphenate random words together. I couldn’t tell you.
But I’ve nonetheless seen it while editing my own stories. And I’ve seen it plenty of other times in other self-published stories I’ve read.
It’s a cautionary tale to be sure. When polishing your manuscript one last time… before hitting the publish button… keep an eye out specifically for hyphens. And when you find one, ask yourself this: Do those words actually belong together like that?
Chances are pretty decent that they don’t.
Speaking of words that don’t belong, here’s another thing we self-published authors tend to do. Because we have final reign over our manuscripts, we have a bad habit of fixing sentences that don’t necessarily need to be fixed.
No doubt, that happens based on our sincere desire to make sure that our manuscripts are perfect. But alas, that desire can backfire on us. Too often, we only end up adding in words that don’t need to be added in the process. Or we forget to delete words that need to be deleted.
Either way, our revisions take our manuscripts back a step or two in the editorial process. Not forward.
Incidentally, this can also happen with traditionally published books. I’ve seen significant typos outside of the indie author circle. So really, take it as a cautionary tale regardless of what publishing route you’re taking.
Because while typos may or may not bother the reader – if you’re anything like me – they’re going to drive you bonkers when you catch them in your own books.