How Good Is Your Eyesight?

How good is your eyesight? Can you catch all of the errors in your manuscript?

I’m in the process of doing a final read-through before I send my manuscript for Something to Crow About to my editor. The ms has been read, criticized, and edited by four Beta Readers. And, of course, before I sent it to them, I thought I had caught all of the punctuation and spelling errors, typos, and grammar goofs.

I was wrong.

Each of my Beta Readers found errors: missing quote marks. Quote marks that shouldn’t be there. Periods that should have been question marks. Question marks that should have been periods or commas. A switch in verb tense. And so on.

As each Beta Reader returned the ms with corrections, I went into the master ms and made the necessary changes. Once I input the final corrections, the ms should have been ready to send to my editor. Right?

But wait a minute. I think I’d better give it one more read.

Sigh. I haven’t found a lot of errors, but they are there. A missed period. A wayward quote mark. Extra words.

How did I and my Beta Readers miss these things?

The problem is we often read/see what we think should be there. In a sense, the story blinds us. This is why even after a book has been edited by a traditional publishing house’s editor, readers find errors. It’s why, if you’re self-publishing a book, you need several sets of eyes editing your work, no matter how great you may think your self-editing skills may be. And it’s why, when we’re reading another writer’s book, we shouldn’t be too critical if we find a few small errors.

My editor told me when my ms is perfect to my eyes, he’ll show me how poor my eyesight is.

I’m hoping he won’t find too many errors. When he sends the ms back, I’ll let you know if I need better eyeglasses.

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6 Responses to How Good Is Your Eyesight?

  1. Maris,

    I always find errors that I originally missed. They are small things, of course, but still upsetting. This is why we need professional editors.

  2. Lucy Kubash says:

    I have found the Text to Speak feature in Word very helpful in catching a lot of errors. By just hearing the ms. spoken I have caught missed words and punctuation (like if a sentence is suppose to be a question but isn’t read as one). I run every ms. through T to S even more than once.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Lucy, I’ve begun using the Text to Speak feature. One problem I’m having with this book is the computer reads P.J. Benson as P dot J dot Benson. Hearing that always jars me. But, as you said, the T to S feature has certainly helped me find missing words or words that shouldn’t be in the text.

  3. Thanks for pointing that out, Maris. There seems to be no end to the imperfections that keep poppinf up. It’s encouraging to know it also happens to the longtime successful authors.

  4. In fact, it happened again! 🙂 poppinf?