If the Story Is Good Enough, No One Will Care About a Few Typos, Right?
You’ve just put the finishing touches on your masterpiece and cannot wait to share it with the world. Readers are going to shower you with positive reviews. You just have to get your story out there. There’s no reason to wait another second, right?
It’s easier than ever to self-publish your work, and we’re farther and farther from the days when the vanity press was viewed with near-universal disdain.
When done right, self-publishing can be profitable—even, dare we say, respectable. Just look at the growing number of authors who have made it going the self-publishing route (E.L. James and Hugh Howey are two well-known examples).
The tools available to self-publishers also make it possible to create beautiful books with relative ease—books with your name on them! How can you resist?
The temptation is almost too much for any writer, one of whose ultimate goals is, of course, to send a written work out into the world. But the ease with which writers can now publish their works can be a trap.
Remember, once you send something into the world, you can’t pull it back, and that first impression can turn off a reader for life. Sure, you can reload a cleaner version, but by then a significant amount of damage may already be done to your reputation.
If you think self-publishing is a good fit for your goals, then there’s every reason to pursue it. But it’s a cruel world out there, and you should make every effort to give your work its best chance for survival.
When we want something badly enough, we are extremely adept at picturing our desired outcome, often turning a blind eye to harder realities. This can lead to rushing out a work before you’ve helped it achieve its best form.
Think about how fragile your feelings are in regard to something you’ve written, and then think about what lurks online. Have you been on the internet lately? Can’t you hear readers sharpening their knives? Do you really want to let an audience, emboldened by anonymity, take potshots at one of your darlings?
It’s not uncommon for hopeful writers to say to themselves, “But if it’s a good enough story, no one’s going to care about a few typos, right?”
The truth is that the only people who don’t care about typos are the imaginary readers you create for your work.
Eliminate Stumbling Blocks
Some of the best writing advice you’ll ever hear is simply this: Don’t ever give your readers a reason to stop reading.
Dense paragraphs at the beginning of a work might convince your readers that your story is simply too difficult to wade through. For this reason many writers suggest always throwing in dialogue on the first page.
Packing too much information, too much world-building, into the beginning of your story can also give your readers a reason to stop reading, so a better approach might be to let your audience acclimate a little more slowly to your world.
And whether you’d like to believe it or not, misspellings and grammatical errors are a huge reason to stop reading. Your audience will question your professionalism, and if readers have paid for your work, even if it’s only a few dollars, even if it’s only 99 cents, they are going to feel ripped off.
Writers owe their readers, at a minimum, crisp, clear copy that contains none of the stumbling blocks a professional edit could have eliminated.
Before sending your darling out into the world, ensure it’s edited properly, which means another set of eyes. The world’s best editors realize that no one can successfully edit his or her own work. Writers are simply too familiar with their text. So do the right thing and treat your darling to a good edit. You—and your story—deserve it.