Can you read the title of this post? If you stare at the words for a few minutes, you can probably figure it out. For those of you who have given up, it says: Proofreading Makes a Difference. Now imagine having to sit through an entire 50 page partial trying to read something like that? Not easy.
No doubt some of you are thinking, “That’s what spell check is for.” Well, spell check only looks for misspelled words. So many manuscripts I read have awkward passages that don’t make sense. They have repeated words and poor grammar. I know it’s thrilling to type the last period of your novel, but please do not simply Google a few literary agencies and send it off. You’re not even giving your book a fighting chance. After so much time spent planning the book, doing painstaking research, and writing, don’t you owe your master piece the respect of another look over? You’d be amazed at how much needs to be rework. You might re-write an entire chapter because you had an off day.
Here’s a little secret when it comes to proofreading: Your book needs to be virtually perfect. It needs to be so polished that it can go from the agent’s hands to the book shelves. Is their wiggle room? Absolutely—an ending may need to be changed or a beginning starts too slow, but the characters and plot need to be there. However, we won’t even get to that point if the novel is riddled with mistakes.
Now that you’re a big ball of stress, let me untangle you. There is hope and there is help! I would suggest joining an online critique group. They are much less hassle than the ones that you drive to weekly or bi weekly. The online ones are on your own time. One of the biggest groups lately is Wattpad. It’s a giant forum of posted books. People vote on their favorites, comment on their stories and offer advice to each other. Also, there is that added bonus of exposure to other people’s works. Critiquing others helps you to understand what’s wrong with your own stuff. If you’re looking for genre specific there are many options out there like RWC and Romance Critters, just search engine it.