I am doing the third editing pass on a client’s book and yes, I found two more typos (much to my chagrin). I tell my clients that line editing is like sweeping a dirt floor. No matter how many times you sweep, you’re still going to pick up dirt. But too many books today are riddled with typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors. Part of this is due to the fact that we live in the age of self-publishing, print-on-demand, and ebooks, Kindle or other. Anyone can put out a book.
This is not to say that errors occur only in self-published tomes. I find errors in traditionally published books on an all-too-regular basis, both fiction and non-fiction, big publishers and boutique houses. I am currently reading a business book published by Dutton (no slouch) that has a number of errors. It is 200+ pages and I understand better than most that you can’t catch everything. Here’s the thing: the number of errors in this book was markedly higher than usual—so much so that I went to the front of the book to see if it had been self-published. That’s when I found the Dutton imprint. I also saw something that made me take a (metaphorical) step back. The book was in its third printing. THIRD. You would think that somewhere between the first and third printing someone would have bothered to correct the errors. Alas, no.
I have a friend who writes incredibly detailed and helpful manuals. But his spelling and grammar are nothing short of atrocious. There are people (including my friend) who will say, “If the content is good, people won’t mind a few errors.” And they won’t mind… a few. But I have been told by more than one person that my friend’s manuals have so many errors that they are difficult to read.
Spelling and grammar matter because the purpose of writing a book is to communicate your ideas clearly. You can spend a lifetime perfecting every last sentence in a book, but you’ll never finish your book. A few typos, especially in longer works, will always slip through the cracks. But your ideas need to come through without your reader having to struggle to decipher each page.
There’s a balance that needs to be struck. You spent a lot of time and effort writing your book. Don’t undermine yourself. Invest a bit of money to ensure you look your best. A second set of eyes, AKA a good editor, can help your book (and you) come across as professional and competent.
If you need a second pair of eyes, email me: Barbara@BarbaraGrassey.com