Manuscript Mistakes Can Sabotage The Editing Process
Your manuscript stands ready for professional editing. Or does it? Here is a list of manuscript mistakes that can hamper your editors efforts to improve your work and get it ready for publication.
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So you’ve decided to write a book. Congratulations! After spending all that time envisioning your work and creating your written masterpiece, it has finally come down to getting your book published. After weighing the pros and cons, you’ve decided to go with self-publishing. There are many reasons to choose the self-publishing route: the publication timeline is much shorter, every decision concerning your book is yours to make, and you get to determine the final price and collect some amazing royalty rates.
However, along with the benefits of publishing your own book, there are downsides every writer should be aware of. Since every decision is yours to make, you may decide to skimp on professional editing and formatting to avoid the additional cost and time. This in itself is a grave mistake, but even when you do the right thing and employ a professional editor, there are simple errors you can avoid to make your manuscript tighter and easier to edit. Avoid these manuscript mistakes and allow your editor to improve your book’s chances for success.
Don’t double space after periods
Contrary to what you may have been taught, double spacing after a period is a formatting mistake you need to steer clear of. The standard of double-spacing after a period derived from the use of typewriters, where all of the words were equally spaced apart. With the advent of modern computers, the need for double-spacing has been eliminated.
Don’t misuse hyphens
Using unnecessary hyphens in your book can make your work less engaging and more difficult for your reader to enjoy. Hyphen rules are relatively simple, here’s how to use them:
Two or more words joined together that work as an adjective.
Example: Light-green jacket.
Two or more words that form a number.
You do not need to use a hyphen when you are using compound words, such as toothbrush. Keeping your written style neat and efficient will keep your book looking professional and reader friendly.
Avoid incorrect use of quotation marks and apostrophes
Incorrect use of punctuation is a serious rookie mistake among self-published authors. Punctuation mistakes are an easy way to garner negative reviews and lose credibility.
When using quotation marks, it’s important to remember these key factors:
- Always use quotation marks when you’re quoting a person’s speech or copying work from another source.
- Common expressions don’t need the use of quotation marks (e.g. fed up, no hard feelings).
- Avoid overusing quotation marks as they can become monotonous.
The proper use of an apostrophe can be a bit trickier, so before throwing in an unnecessary apostrophe, keep these tips in mind.
- An apostrophe should be used to show possession (The dog’s bowl is blue).
- An apostrophe should be used for contractions (You can’t feed the dog that food).
Avoid redundant phrases
Professional writers with years of experience know that a good piece of writing keeps the reader interested. Good writing avoids unnecessary words that can dull the work and put readers to sleep. There is a collection of words and phrases professional authors completely avoid when writing their books.
Some examples of words and phrases to cut from your writing include:
- And also: Redundant usage.
- Irregardless: A phrase popularized by modern media, the actual word is regardless.
- The reason why is because: Once again, redundant phrasing can quickly lose the attention of your readers.
A book ready for self publishing avoids unnecessary phrases that take away from the focus of the writing. Keeping the writing descriptive and concise will help you produce a book readers can really connect with.
Remove tab indents
Do not create indents at the start of each new paragraph using your tab key. When you create an indent with the tab key, you are incorrectly formatting your work as the tab key creates far too large an indent.
In a fiction book, a small indent created through the Paragraph settings in Microsoft Word is all that is needed. In nonfiction books, a professional writer will use a block to create a paragraph division. Instead of using an indentation, a block paragraph will simply use a horizontal line of white space beneath each paragraph.
Time for professional editing
The advice in this post is really just the beginning, and no manuscript destined for publishing should go without professional editing. Keeping your manuscript free of basic inconsistencies and mistakes will make the process easier and allow an editor to focus on improving your work rather than cleaning up simple, avoidable errors.
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