Here’s a tip for (impoverished) writers ….. If, like me, you are writing/publishing on the proverbial shoe-string and of necessity doing as many would-be professional functions yourself, never short change the editing rounds. You must keep proof-reading your manuscript every chance you get. Then when you’re comfortable you’ve done so enough …… do it again. And then again. And then get a friend to do so ….. And then another friend……. And then your sister …. And then …..
If you cannot afford the skills of a professional editor then the onus is 100% on you to be as thorough as you possibly can in ensuring your manuscript is absolutely correct prior to hitting the go button on the printing press. As I have found, self-editing/proofing is open to risk of missing subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) errors and once the book is out there your friends are no longer offering proof reading advice when they tell you about them, they are pointing out mistakes indelibly set in the finished version of that unblemished masterpiece you’ve striven so long and hard to produce.
So next time you hit the wall and the dreaded writer’s block kicks in, don’t waste your time crashing you’re cranium trying to be creative when it just isn’t there; go back and read that manuscript for the umpteenth time and check what you’ve already created. Try not to get into the art but look at the mechanics, the nuts and bolts, the spelling and grammar and syntax, and leave the creativity for when you’re in the mood. You’ll be grateful you did for this way you won’t have consumed your time (as well as half a conifer forest) throwing away sheets of paper on which you’ve attempted to write stuff that just wasn’t meant to happen. But you may well have found a copula stooped spoiling mistakes that your smell chucker thought were OK, or a silly, grammatical error. or two, or incorrect used of tense, or a run on sentence that should be shortened that seems to go on pointlessly for ever stating the same thing repeatedly, over and over, again and again, that leaves the reader wondering when, or for that matter if, the next full stop will come and hoping it will be soon before they run out of breath.
With two books out now I cringe when I see (or, worse yet, hear about from a reader) a stupid mistake that I just didn’t pick up in proofing rounds. OK, so far it seems that there are very few and relatively small, but even one is way too many. Like that little scratch in the paintwork of your brand new car, it stands out like a sore thumb to the point where that is what you notice and not the rest of the blemish free paint job.
So even if you’re on a very tight budget my advice is: if you can scrape it together to have a professional editor help you then definitely do so. But if you can’t then go back and read the first paragraph here and then add a few more do-it-agains. Otherwise you might find your shiny new car has a copula scratches in the paintwork.