How Important is the State of Your Manuscript?

It’s very important! Surely, you didn’t expect me to say anything different.

When you submit a manuscript to a publisher, you want to give them the best story you can. That means you tell a good tale, create believable characters, and the writing is the best you can produce.

But wait, there’s more. You want to make sure the spelling and grammar adhere to industry standards, because if your work is full of typos and weird sentences that don’t make sense, the publisher isn’t going to waste their time trying to fix it. They’ll reject it, and here’s why: if an author submits a work full of typos and grammar errors that are easily caught and corrected but the writer didn’t bother, the publisher is going to doubt the author can make the suggested edits.

What if you self-publish and pay an editor to vet your manuscript? Same thing applies. The editor is going to wonder if you are capable of making his edits without reintroducing typos and grammar errors. Most editors don’t want to be associated with authors like this; it gives their work a bad name.

Writers who don’t take pride in their work, who think it’s up to the editor to “fix all that crap so I don’t have to” are unprofessional and will find it difficult to hire good people.

I want to be clear about something.ย Allย writers make mistakes, and none of us find them all before passing our manuscripts on to the editor or publisher. This is normal, it’s expected, it is the proper balance of things. ๐Ÿ™‚ After all, it keeps editors in business, so thank you for doing what is expected!

What I’m talking about is the manuscript that goes so far beyond what is considered acceptable, it scares the shit out of the publisher or editor, who become very nervous about taking it on for the reason stated above: is the writer capable of making the suggested edits? If the original manuscript is a mess, it is doubtful.

Please don’t expect an editor to waste valuable time fixing stuff you should have corrected before giving him the manuscript. Read it at least once! Twice would be better, and if you have time and a willing friend, have it beta’d, too.

When the editor getsย that manuscript, he’s ready to do the serious work of making your manuscript the best it can be by concentrating on plot, characterization, and the occasional typo/grammar error, rather than wasting all his time fixing the shitย you should have before giving it to him.

This isn’t rocket science, boys and girls. It’s how things are done. If you don’t want to bother with the extra read-through, you’re not ready to be a writer who is taken seriously.


About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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12 Responses to How Important is the State of Your Manuscript?

  1. Tara West says:

    You are very right. I sure hope my manuscripts are clean enough before I send them to you, and I do appreciate all of your hard work. You’re an amazing editor! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. A.M.B. says:

    That makes sense. If I were an editor, I wouldn’t want to waste my time on a manuscript with too many typos and grammatical errors (although I suppose that might depend on how much they’re paying me!).

    • I don’t charge enough, according to what I’ve heard, and when I consider how many man hours goes into an edit, I’d have to agree. ๐Ÿ™‚

      However, I understand money is tight for many these days, so I make an effort to keep my prices reasonable. Every author needs an editor. I don’t care how good you are. I need an editor, and I’m an above-average, out of the box writer.

  3. diannegray says:

    This is so true, Theo. The beta reader is the go after you’ve read and re-read and fixed all you can see ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Absolutely correct! Although I’m currently on hiatus from editing for a publisher, I can’t tell you how many manuscripts I saw that were not up to par when it came to typos and grammar errors. It takes a lot of time to fix that stuff, and that means less time to address bigger issues.

      There was one author who did not understand dialog tags. Throughout the manuscript, tags were separate from dialog. I wasted a lot of time restructuring everything so it made sense.

      Then there was the author who didn’t get how to punctuate dialog: “Give me that flat iron. I’m gonna bash him in the head with it.” He said.

      Y’all realize there should be a comma after “it” and “He” is lowercase, but this author somehow missed that lesson when they were teaching it. Do you realize how long it takes to fix something like this in a 60,000 word manuscript? Ouch!

      If a writer can’t look at his work with a critical eye before submitting it, how can he learn to correct his writing as he goes? And isn’t it his goal to get better in every way? If not, it should be.

      • diannegray says:

        I totally understand, Theo. Dialogue errors can be a nightmare. I would review for You Write On and sometimes just throw my hands in the air after seeing these types of basic mistakes. It can be very frustrating…

        • What’s frustrating is writers who refuse to learn. They keep making the same mistakes over and over and over…

          I won’t work with them. I don’t mind “raw” as long as they want to learn. I love working with writers like that. But if they’re publishing their fifth book and the writing still sucks? Take up knitting and goat milking.

  4. What a great blog!!! Do you mind if I share it at some point on my website? I’m an editor, too. I shared on Facebook. Thanks for stating the “facts” in easy to understand english… short and to the point!

    • You’re welcome! And check out my “Writers Writing Badly” entries. There are two, and if every new writer followed my advice, they’d be published in no time.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  5. Thank you. Very good advice for a novice writer who really wants to be published soon. ๐Ÿ‘

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