What’s wrong with these sentences?
1. It’s 1893,” said the bartender, wiping down the bar, “and the Irish are as common as a flight from Philadelphia to New York.”
2. “Jimmy JJ Walker was a dy-no-mite comedian!” said my companion, much to my surprise.
3. We read an article in the “New York Times” about avian flu.
4. We had been driving all night, until exhaustion overtook us at dawn.
8 reasons to hire a copy editor
1. Publishers expect you to submit a near-perfect manuscript. These days, editors take part in finding and signing authors, then editing and marketing their books. Your first manuscript needs to be as polished and professional as possible, or they will find a reason to reject it. They just don’t have the time to develop talent and rework stories the way they used to.
2. Readers expect a near-perfect manuscript. If you’re self-publishing, your book needs to be as good as those already on the shelves, because someone previewing your book will put it back if it isn’t. Don’t invest your money for very little return. Simply put, if a reader finds one mistake in your book, they feel special, as if they found something your editor missed. If they find a hundred, they feel ripped off and never buy your next book. Use an editor to keep that from happening.
3. Mistakes stop a reader cold.
4. Editing is more than grammar and good spelling. A good editor will develop your story like a coach does an athlete. Get solid advice on character development, story arcs, rhythm, word choice and more that make your story better.
5. Styles change. Your high-school English teacher may have taught you how to write like a long-dead literary scribe, but writing styles and preferences change. This doesn’t mean editors want something cutting edge or revolutionary, but they also don’t want something out of the 19th century (even if your story is set there!).
6. Formats change. Every so often, and for reasons no one really understands, the way manuscripts are formatted changes. Editors automatically reject improperly formatted manuscripts as the sign of an “amateur writer.” Make sure your submission is formatted properly.
7. Mistakes are easy to miss. After you’ve read your manuscript a few times, your eyes play tricks on you. Your brain reads it right, even if it’s wrong. Get fresh eyes on your story.
8. Not having a professional manuscript can cost you more in the long run. If it doesn’t sell well, you’ll have spent a lot of time and energy writing a good story no one will ever read.
- In 1893, flights from New York to Philadelphia weren’t common. In fact, they weren’t even possible. The airplane wasn’t invented until 1903 and flights weren’t common for another 40 years. Also, the first quotation mark is missing.
- Jimmy JJ Walker should be Jimmie “J.J.” Walker.
- the “New York Times” should be The New York Times.
- Instead of “We had been driving all night long…” try “We drove all night long…” Stick with action verbs. They’re more powerful.