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Dear Author, are you reading to send your manuscript to your editor or potential agent? THINK AGAIN!


Sorry I’m being as dramatic as an Archer Clan Vampire, but this is your double-check checklist of things to search for within your writing before you send your manuscript to your editor, or agent! It would be a great idea to use this list before sending your manuscript to any beta reader.This list can help you get a lesser rate on editing services (you need that) or make you look more polished when you pitch your manuscript to an agent living on 5th avenue, New York, New York. This post is so early, because I want to catch people who might be querying agents. Some agents will also want your rough manuscript edited professionally before you send it, which blows my mind, but you need to follow their requirements.

Does this list of control searches replacing editing? Hell to the no. Why is that even a subheading? I am passionate about editing, and will speak more about it in the professional services section, along with it’s biggest con.

These check are time savers, and include things you might miss. They are not on the act of writing itself, but they are simple an effective. Because youe editor will find these things, it’s going to save both of you more time than you realize.

Checks you want to perform yourself:

  • Control search for spell check.

I hadn’t done this for 3 years in my first book, and thought everything was all clear, but, pressing f7 in my Microsoft word document would have saved me two errors. That is two too many when you’re an Indie. Please, just do it before you send even if you think you did. Though sometimes I swear spell check doesn’t work (again, using the unimpressive but effective word as my processor).

Tip: Kindle will catch spelling mistakes when you upload your manuscript, so pay attention when you upload, or try a rough draft.

  • Control search for elipsies, AKA: …

Your ellipses… should begin immediately after the previous word with no spaces, appear as three periods in a row, space, and then the following word. Making sure there is a space between the end of the ellipses “…” and the following word:
“… following”, will save your editor and YOU tons of time later.

  • Control search for hyphens and dashes

When your book is formatted you will quickly realize if you have inconsistencies between your dashes and hyphen and words (extra spaces or not enough). On a word processor, it is easy to miss. When words are justified and put into a manuscript, inconsistencies in dashes stick out like the sorest thumb. You need to decide if you are using a small hyphen “-” or a dash “—” to separate word phrases, and if you want spaces in between or not. I go for long dashes and no spaces to keep the flow. In journalism, there are spaces flanking the dashes. I’ve also seen (in publishing house produced book) a singular hyphen set with spaces on both parts of the phrase, “like – like”. Whatever you decide, stick to it. DOUBLE CHECK that there is or isn’t a space after the last hyphen, because it is incredibly hard to see with normal spacing, and once it’s formatted you will notice the inconsistencies.

  • Control search for quotes and punctuation. “. and “,

Punctuation should never happen outside of quotations, so if you have “. or “, then you are going to have to fix it later. Be sure to put your punctuation safely inside it’s quote for safekeeping. You could have missed these on accident.

Awesome resources for checks:

For more of an in depth self-edit (you should do this one first) Sherry D. Ramsey put together a beautiful presentation for CaperCon 2017, which you can find here: http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?p=3605

Wendy Janes also has a fabulous list of checks here: http://completelynovel.com/articles/five-proofreading-checks-you-need-to-run

She discussed double words, and searching for words that might be typed wrong, in which case, they are still a real word and spell check does not find them. The word “eyes” and “yes” are an example. I have a French character names “Yves,” so that check is particularly important to me.


Why do some mistakes still slip through after editing (and reading over your book 3 times)?

So why do we have all of these weird misspelled words and mistakes when we are educated writers and intelligent humans? Why do they still remain even after we have applied edits? I must mention Gestalt Psychology and perception. You already know what the words should say. Our brains will essentially fill in the missing words.It’s not just you.

The image below may look like a triangle, but in reality, only three circles were drawn. The three circles are like your actual text, and the triangle is  what you think should be there.



This is clearly a triangle, right? This is how your brain works when you are trying to proof or edit your own work. For more information on Gestalt Psychology, this is a fun resource: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/gestalt.html

It’s an important concept you should be familiar with and applies to many areas of your life. At a wedding recently, I was sat across from an art therapy psychology major, and there were errors in the wedding program. I thought she would totally get me as I explained this sort of thing happens all of the time and tried to make a Gestalt Psychology reference… I suddenly felt extremely old when she had no idea.

Good luck, writers!

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