My business, Innovative Editing, has a program called Author of the Month.
Every month, I do an interview with an author to promote one particular book. This author can be self-published or traditionally published. And it also doesn’t matter if they’re one of my editing clients, someone who submitted their work specifically for the Author of the Month spot or someone I just stumbled onto.
The only conditions for consideration are that I read and enjoy the book in question, and that I feel comfortable promoting it to my diversely aged Genuine Writer e-letter followers.
Do you know what it takes for me to enjoy a book? That would be believable characters, an engaging plot, dialogue that doesn’t make me want to edit it to pieces, and a well-developed setting that doesn’t detract from the other elements.
Do you know what doesn’t automatically disqualify a book from an Innovative Editing Author of the Month spot?
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 typos as possible. So here’s some common ones I’ve found in especially self-published potential Author of the Month books:
The paragraphs aren’t properly broken up. Okay, yes, this isn’t 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. 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, where a different topic is introduced, or where something specific needs to be emphasized. Those all make for good spots to add in a paragraph break.
Words are oddly hyphenated. Don’t ask me why we self-published authors will hyphenate random words together. I couldn’t tell you. But I’ve seen it while editing my own stories, and I’ve seen it plenty of other times in other 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… do those words actually belong together like that?
There are random words thrown into sentences. 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 just because we’re stressing out over last-edit details. Too often, we only end up adding in words that don’t need to be added or forgetting to delete words that need to be deleted in the process. 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 have 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.