“You’ve got a typo in your first paragraph,” I said to the friend whose manuscript I was glancing at.
“The editor will fix it,” he said with a shrug. “That’s what editors are for.”
I looked at him in disbelief. Then I began to educate him. “Yes, editors will fix the errors you somehow overlooked—assuming they buy the story or book you’re sending them in the first place. But you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you knowingly send out a manuscript with typos or other errors in it.
“Editors are uniformly overworked. Given a choice of two books, two stories, or whatever, to fill a slot, assuming both are well written and interesting, they’re gonna acquire the one that’s ‘cleaner’ and reject the other one.”
“’Cleaner’?” my friend asked.
“That means fewer typos, misspellings, and other stuff that needs correcting. It’s publishing lingo. Editors like writers who turn in clean copy—manuscripts that need the least copyediting. Less work for them.”
“Why don’t they do their job? They’re getting paid to edit. That’s why they’re editors.”
“In the first place, editing manuscripts is only part of an editor’s job, whether she or he works for a book publisher, a magazine publisher, or some other entity. And in the second place, editors have a whole magazine or a whole season’s worth of books to edit. They’re trying to make their burden lighter—and deservedly. They’re not being lazy.”
“Aww, it’s just one little typo.”
“If there’s one, there may be more. Proofread your work one more time before you send it out. And that’s assuming you already edited it,” I said sternly, handing the story back to him.
He snatched the manuscript back, seeming ticked off.
“You DO want to sell it?” I said questioningly.
He nodded agreement.
“Then edit your work after you write it, and proof it once it’s printed, before you send it out. Your eye can catch errors on the printed page that you missed on-screen.
“Good luck selling your story.”
And good luck to you who are reading this. I hope you sell your books and stories, too. But take a lesson from this story, and edit and then proofread them before you send them.