The Occasionally Cranky Editor Speaks

Dear Mr. Author:

There are a lot of errors in your manuscript. Not plot holes or lack of clarity, no. Simple things like typos, misspelled words, punctuation mistakes. What happened? It looks like a bomb went off in here.

I’m the content editor, so I’ve been looking past these things; it’s the copyeditor’s job to catch them when you and I are through. I’m not marking them—but I can’t help noticing them.

You should too. Given that there are dozens (no, really, dozens) of just this one thing—form/from errors—you should note what your other common errors are (your dialogue punctuation needs work, for example) and do a search-and-replace before you turn in the manuscript.

Best practices: you always want to turn in as clean a manuscript as possible. :)

Why? There are a couple reasons.

First impressions are important. So when you send in messy work, it makes you look sloppy. Or lazy. That makes it seem as if you don’t care about this project. It feels a little disrespectful, frankly.

Worse, it’s distracting. I’ve already mentioned that I can’t help noticing the mess. But your copyeditor will have to clean it up. If she is all caught up in finding and fixing the nickel errors—things you should have handled—she might miss the five-dollar errors.

Don’t worry—everyone on your editorial team knows how hard this work is. Nobody expects perfection right out of the box. But act as if you care, dude!

Your Editor

P. S. I’ve written about this several times:

It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green
The First Draft vs. Your Best Effort
Are You Ready for Some Editing?

Tweet: Best practices: you always want to turn in as clean a manuscript as possible.
Tweet: What happened to this manuscript? It looks like a bomb went off in here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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  1. Sacha black says:

    See this makes me a little sad. I know this is what we should do, and believe me I TRY SO HARD. I must have edited the early part of my script 20 times by now. But I am not great at grammar. Even when I try to do all the things I can, get all the typos, run it through grammar checkers. I still have HUNDREDS of errors. I’ll be one of those that submits a manuscript and it still has lots of errors. And it makes me sad because I will have tried my best, but I’ll still leave a sour taste in an editors mouth. My grammar knowledge is just not good enough. I must own every grammar self help book out there. For some unknown reason I just cannot seem to grasp it. *cries into coffee* I genuinely don’t know what to do about it.