Tag Archives: proofreading

Guest post from Grammarly! Why Proofreading matters

As most of you know from earlier posts, I’m a big fan of Grammarly. When Nick Baron emailed me to ask if they could post an article on my blog, of course I said yes! It’s a great kick-off to 2014 for this blog (we moved in January, among other distractions!). Enjoy!

Why Proofreading Matters

proofreading

Anyone who puts pen to paper or finger to keyboard as it so happens today, needs to understand the importance of proofreading. Proofreading is the very thing that can separate good writing from bad writing and greatly impacts your chances of being published. Further, proofreading is a simple task that takes very little of your time.

I should know, my name is Nick and I work over at Grammarly. Grammarly is a site dedicated to proofreading and improving your grammatical skills and part of my job is to study the writing habits of everyday writers to greater improve our site. As you can imagine I come across hundreds of texts daily with terrible usage and believe me when I say, it makes understanding the writers point near impossible.

So let’s start off with the basics—what is proofreading?

Proofreading, also known as line editing, is exactly what you think. It is the process of meticulously analyzing every word, line, paragraph of your writing for spelling errors, punctuation errors, usage errors and other typos. Proofreading is not a natural ability; it is a skillset that takes practice and patience to develop. Though it can be rather tedious at times, a well proofread piece is the true sign of a professional. It is the creation of a text that has the highest level of clarity and therefore understanding.

Therefore, if you want to be taken seriously as a writer and if you want your point to be understood you HAVE to proofread and proofread well.

This is why today we are going to review some resources that are available online. These resources will pave the way to your understanding of proofreading and editing, which will ultimately mold you in a better writer. Many of these resources deal with grammar and usage as these are typically the bulk of errors you will encounter, while others provide tips for making the task of proofreading easier.

  • Purdue’s Online Writing Lab—understanding the true mechanics of grammar has never been easier with the aid of Purdue’s famed OWL. The excellent writers over at OWL take those confusing grammatical elements and break them down in easy-to-understand language. It is a wonderful resource that will definitely advance your knowledge on both grammar and various writing styles.
  • Chicago Manual of Style—if you want to bring you grammar game to the next level, consider thumbing through the Chicago Manual of Style. What better way to learn the rules than from the people who make them? The manual itself is a little thick and boring, so should only be used as a reference or in a school settings however definitely check out their forum. There you can find endless discussions on virtually every grammatical topic known to man.
  • UNC’s Writing Center—like Purdue’s OWL, UNC’s Writing Center is an excellent resource for both academic and non-academic writers. Here UNC provides some excellent articles on tips and strategies for revising your writing. Working through their incredibly well-formatted website will leave you a proofreading pro in no time.
  • Daily Writing Tips—as the name implies, this site is dedicated to offering writers daily tips to help hone their craft. The site is filled to the brim with a number of proof related articles and covers many topics like grammar, spelling, punctuation and more. Further, many of these articles are not just well written but fun to read! Daily Writing is a must have on your “favorites” tab.
  • Grammarly—falls into the category of “online proofreader” but it is a lot more than just that. At its core, yes, Grammarly is an online proofreading site (arguably the best online), but a proofreader that does more than just proof. Grammarly is a tool that totally encompasses every aspect of writing as it can provide stylistic edits, word replacement suggestions to expand vocabulary, checks for plagiarized material while suggesting proper citations and more. However, the truly unique bit is that Grammarly teaches you along the way. Grammarly takes your grammatical errors and teaches you proper usage. Undeniably Grammarly is an excellent tool for any writer and proofreader.

Obviously this list does not include every resource out there but will get you started on the right foot. Proofreading, much like writing, takes time and effort to hone. If you are committed to learning the above sites will make your proofreading education much easier than your old high school grammar classes.

 

 By Nikolas Baron

Bio:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

Leave a comment

Filed under Publishing, Self publishing, Writing

Guest Post from Bestselling Author Leeland Artra

How to Sabotage Your Writing Career in One Easy Step

Leeland Artra is a six month Amazon bestselling author with his debut fantasy/sci-fi trilogy that starts with the book Thread Slivers.

01-Thread-Slivers-533x800-Cover

It’s one o-clock in the morning. You have pushed through because you could see the end. Hundreds of hours of work are done and your book is really written. Congratulation you are now an author. All that is left is to watch the sales roll in.

Well, not exactly. There are still a few items to deal with. For example, you have to format the book into an appropriate form for the eBook retailers or print on demand shops. Oh, and there is that silly cover graphic that needs to be made. What about a forward or an epilogue? Do you need an acknowledgements section? Of course, there is the blurb or sales pitch for the back cover.

All of the above can take hours or days, and some talented or determined people manage to work through the various items on their own. Sales might not be fabulous, but a poor blurb, or a unexceptional cover design will not really kill your career.

There is a common mistake that screams, “Hey, this is just a want-to-be writer who isn’t serious.”

What is that mistake? I’ll get to it in a second. First take a step back and consider how many authors you have bought a second, third or fourth book from. Think about the authors who you just know that, if you see their name on a cover, you’re going to drop the cash to buy it and read it with joy. Now, what do they all have in common?

When you have a favorite author you stop looking at the covers, you might only read the blurb to find out if this new fabulous find is part of a series. The blurb and the cover are used to judge new authors that you are not familiar with to see if you’ll give them a shot.

What about authors you’ve decided never to read again. What was it that made you cringe to read the book?

I’ll bet you might not even know why you put some authors on that “never again” list. I know my list had a few I couldn’t identify the reason for until I started writing myself. I went back and analyzed my favorite vs. my “yuck no way” authors.

What was it? It was something I never even noticed, something I am personally horrible at getting right myself.

Okay, enough of the suspense. It was grammar. Yep, a number of authors on my never read again list were there because the first book I got with their name on the cover had some horrible grammar errors. Misused words, and just terrible flow. Good stories, interesting characters, but just unforgivable writing errors.

What is the one mistake that will sabotage your writing career? The answer is not bothering to have a real editor give your manuscript the complete treatment.

The moment I realized this, I knew I would never let that mistake happen. It isn’t easy finding a good editor. They are not exactly inexpensive either, most charging about one cent per word. If your book is one hundred thousand words, that is one thousand dollars in editing services. That is a lot of money to drop. Is it worth it? I’d argue yes. Every single book you sell might bring you a dollar in profit. However, more importantly you want that book to bring you at least one faithful reader. You want to earn the respect of someone so they will buy your next book, and the one after that.

The idiom “you only have one chance to make a good first impression” is true. As an author you will earn back at least ten dollars for every dollar you spend in editing. You will make a good impression, you will make future sales, you will get word of mouth recommendations leading to more of the same.

What if it is impossible for you to hire a professional editor? Well dig in, work hard, find someone qualified. There are librarians, there are high school writing teachers, there are college writing professors, and I know you have friends. Exploit your network of friends and find one or two people that qualify as real editors that will do it for you free.

Be aware of what makes a good editor. Editors do not just correct your typos. They look at the style, the flow, the character development, the tone, and the grammar based on the genre. They do so much more than proofread; you will have to rewrite parts, ditch some stuff, and expand other items based on their feedback.

Editorial passes are not just a one time through the wringer either. My first book had two different editors and went through four revisions before being called done. Even with that there were still typos and some minor issues. My second book had three professional editors. I sent the book off to one, got it back, worked through the changes and then sent it to the next editor. The book went through each editor three times, which means I did nine revisions. It is almost as much effort as writing the thing. But, the final result shines so brightly I am proud to release it.

Be aware of what each editorial pass is about. Here is the breakdown.

First pass is called the beta read. In a beta read pass the editor is generally ignoring words, grammar and language. This pass is about characters, plot, and flow. The editor is looking for character mistakes, character believability, and plot progress.

Second pass is called a line-edit. In a line-edit pass the editor has the red pen out. All the grammar, word usages, typos, and language are under heavy scrutiny. This pass, the plot and characters are back burner items and it is all about sentence structure, dialogue handling, etc. (This is the pass I dread personally because I’m horribly vicious to the English language.)

Third pass is called a proof read. In a proof read pass, the manuscript is considered “done” and basically ready for print. Most editors can do a proof read in a couple of days. In this pass they are just speed reading the book end to end looking for simple typos. Red pen out, this is generally where some of the stuff you added gets marked up a little. This is also where I get a lot of comments like “had to stop here I was laughing too hard to keep going” and “this is really cute”.

Good editors are busy people. If you want to get onto their schedules you have to book in advance. I have gotten very lucky in finding my editors. I had to do a lot of searching to locate and vet them. You need to find some editors you feel are good for your books. This is not something to short change. Be tough when first meeting an editor. Ask questions like how many books in the [insert genre] realm do you work on? Can you give me references for books you have edited? Do I have to pay for each editorial pass or can we negotiate a one fee for beta+line-edit+proof read type service?

Whatever you do, don’t let your books go out unedited. This is something you can have total control over and there is no need to miss this step. I wish you all the best! Feel free to shoot me questions on Twitter, or Facebook.

I wish you all the skill and luck in the world. If you’re another fantasy and/or sci-fi author I’d love to connect with you.

 Leeland-Author-180

Leeland sayds, “I still can’t believe I’m really a bestselling author. You can find all of my books at Amazon.”

1 Comment

Filed under Publishing, Writing

Editing and mistakes

do whatever you like

I just read a good blog post by internet-friend Victoria Grefer on typos, and it got me thinking about editing in general. On the issue of typos, the more casual the writing, the less typos bother me. In my own writing, they bother me more than when reading someone else’s. These days, most traditionally published novels have typos and other editing errors in them. Budget cuts or carelessness? I don’t know. If I’m into the story, it rarely registers beyond a tiny blip on the radar.

But I’m in the editing phase of IXEOS: Rebellion, and so this is pertinent point. I’m not a grammar nazi, although I know some, and I don’t strive for grammatical perfection. Grammar doesn’t matter one whit in dialogue, which is my favorite thing to write, and a lot of grammar is somewhat subjective. Don’t believe me? Try an experiment: run your document through at least three spelling/grammar checkers and see what happens. I use Scrivener to write my first drafts, and do the preponderance of editing in that program. When I’m about to move it to Word, I run the spelling/grammar check. I fix things, move the document to Word on a pc, and run the novel through Grammarly. What do you know? There are now more, new things, or things correcting my corrections back to the way I originally wrote it. After Grammarly, I move the document to Word on my Mac for a final (or two) read-through and edit. When that’s done, I run the spelling/grammar check a final time. And… you guessed it. More/new things show up, often to go back to a formerly “corrected” version. Sometimes words that didn’t show up as misspelled before pop up.

What does this tell you? That, for fiction at least, the rules are flexible. In fact, they aren’t even so much “rules” much of the time. They’re suggestions. (Kind of like the pirates’ code in Pirates of the Caribbean.) While people, even the best of editors, are incapable of total objectivity when it comes to editing and proofreading, computer programs have no such issues. They are incapable of subjectivity. If three programs, all respected and widely used, vary in their use of grammar rules, then what does that say about those rules? Now, I’m not saying we should all be ee cummings and use no punctuation or capitalization at all. Obviously, grammar is a necessity for the reader. But if you want a comma somewhere that your editor or your grammar program doesn’t like, because it puts a mental pause in that spot (or vice versa), use the comma. If you don’t use ellipses exactly how “the experts” say to use them, but you always use them the same way, trust your reader to be smart enough to figure that out.

As indie authors, we owe our readers our best product. We have to take the time to edit, proofread, and edit some more. But you will never get it perfect, because such perfection doesn’t exist. There is too much subjectivity. A friend of mine recently confessed that she “always” edits books she checks out from the library. In pencil, thank God. Her daughter, who used to work in a library, had a conniption fit at this disclosure and (supposedly) my friend has stopped this practice. But she’s done it for decades, and has even written letters to authors to tell them about their grammar. Obviously, these are all traditionally published books. And we’re not talking about a typo or two. What does that tell you about the subjectivity of grammar?

The above meme says it all… Write whatever you like. Edit. Proofread. Then let your imperfect child loose on the world.

8 Comments

Filed under Publishing, Self publishing, Writing