Blogger: Mary Keeley
Location: Books & Such Midwest Office, IL
How many errors do you find, in this sentence; both puntuation, grammer, and spelling errors.
A lot of hard work goes into preparing a stellar proposal for submission. You need to come up with the perfect wording for your hook, a compelling short description, the best choices for your list of competing books, and all those other details that will communicate the worthiness of your manuscript and your knowledge of the industry. Whew! You feel brain-dead by the time it’s complete.
But you’re not done yet. Not until you have given your proposal a thorough proofreading. You can produce the most impressive content, but grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors can betray you. Agents and editors will see persistent errors as a poor reflection of your professional writing ability. When I read a proposal that is fairly interesting in content, if the writer did a quick proofread, it could make the difference between my continuing to review it or deciding to decline the project.
Don’t rely on your computer’s spell check. Arm yourself with a recent edition of a good grammar book. Also include the 16th edition of Chicago Manual of Style, which was published last August. There are numerous changes since the 15th edition. Familiarizing yourself with these resources will communicate that you are up-to-date and professional.
If you don’t feel confident, hire a professional proofreader to do the work for you. Even if you do feel proficient, it is worth having another set of eyes review it. Your proposal represents your one chance with an agent or an editor. It must be a sampling of your publication-ready book. The investment of adequate time and money spent for the final proofread will either add icing to the cake or reveal that it’s under-done and in need of additional “baking” before an agent will take a serious look.
When have you been surprised by what a proofreader found in your proposal or manuscript? What habitual errors do you have to watch out for that you can alert the rest of us to? Oh, and how many errors did you find in my opening sentence? (Don’t tell us what they are or it will spoil the fun for others!)