Categories
Writing and Publishing

Don’t Expect an Editor to Do Your Job

As a magazine publisher, I edit every submission I receive. Yes, every single one. (And then a proofreader fixes everything I miss.) Though some submissions are in much better shape than others, each one receives some changes. In fifteen years, I’ve never ever accepted a submission without making at least a few edits.

I may need to shorten a piece to meet space requirements. Or I may need to fix issues with the writing itself, such as using complete sentences, ensuring a consistent tense or perspective, fixing punctuation, and so forth. I may need to remove self-promotion, something that is unprofessional and that we prohibit. Other times I need to correct sections that readers will likely misunderstand. Occasionally, I need to remove something that will offend our audience.

Whatever the reason for the edits, I keep two things in mind: I don’t want to embarrass the writer, and I don’t want to change his or her voice. Most editors have a similar perspective: they have the writer’s best interest in mind.

Given that, some writers may wonder: If it’s going to be edited anyway, why should I submit my best work?

Submitting your best writing results in less work for the editor and earns you their respect. Your future submissions will be anticipated, more likely to be accepted, and may even be published sooner.

Submitting sloppy work has the opposite effect. The editor groans when your email arrives, puts off reading it, and is more likely to reject it. Don’t earn that reputation. This applies to both article and book submissions.

I have several writers who submit content on a regular basis. For some, each piece is well written and professional. For others, I see their quality slide over time, often degrading to a point where I think I’m reading their first draft; they didn’t even bother to proofread it. Maybe they’ve become complacent or perhaps they figure that since it’s going to be edited anyway, why bother?

Don’t be that writer.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Proof then Publish

Another blogging tip is to proof and then publish. That is, once written, review with care and post without delay. It’s that simple.

Some beginning bloggers are afraid to share what they write. They fear it’s not good enough or people will criticize their words. They talk themselves into waiting until it’s better. They search for a title with pizzazz or a conclusion with punch. They worry about formatting, search engine optimization, and finding the right picture. And if the post is controversial, they dread the firestorm that could erupt—or that no one will react. Will anyone even read it? Given all that, the safest thing is to never post.

I once fell into that trap. Fortunately I escaped quickly. If no one reads our words, they mean nothing. We must publish.

The other extreme is to gush a flurry of words, and toss them to the world without a worry. Who cares about typos, word choices, fact checking, or excellence? Just spew forth our stream-of-consciousness and call it good. Disregard the craft of writing; seek quantity over quality.

I understand that mindset, too. In my early days as a blogger, circa 2008, I sought to write quickly and post even quicker. I hoped one scan of my draft would catch all errors. My objective was a twenty-minute post. And though I sometimes hit my goal, the results fell short. Typos overshadowed my prose; sloppy writing detracted from my ideas. I needed to turn off the timer and to take more time. Though perfect posting is an illusion, we need to be close; errors should be the exception and not the norm.

Successful blogging requires a rhythm: we sit down and write; we proof our words and then publish the results. No more, no less.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Why You Should Avoid Being Relective

I was reading one of those college textbooks that send you to the dictionary every other paragraph. Progress was tedious. Most of the words I needed help with weren’t in the dictionaries I consulted, so I’d google the word, hoping to figure it out through context. Sometimes I’d stumble upon a cogent explanation, but often I would need to refer to multiple uses in order to theorize a plausible understanding.

So it began when I encountered the word “reflective.” Unable to locate it in printed or online dictionaries, Google presented me with 29,000 matches to consider. Drilling down, I entered “define reflective,” which narrowed the results to 1,520 occurrences.

Many of the sites were scientific and highly detailed. After ten minutes of effort, I was no closer to an answer. Eventually, a working theory emerged. It seemed that many of the entries addressed light and reflection. I wondered if reflective could correspond to reflective, such as its opposite or perhaps a countervailing phenomenon.

Eventually, I realized most of the occurrences made sense if I substituted reflective for reflective. That seemed to follow for my book as well. I emailed my professor, asking if it might be a typo. His concise reply was, “I sure hope so!”

So much for proofreading, not only did my textbook spell reflective wrong but so did 29,000 websites.

You shouldn’t believe everything you read—and you should carefully proofread everything you write.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Perfect Proofing Practices

It’s hard for most people to proof their own writing. I’m no exception. For my magazines, I hire a proofreader to check my work and the other submissions that will appear in each issue. For my books, I pay a copy editor to catch my errors. For blogs, I rely on my wife and friends to offer correction, albeit only after I post it.

Sometimes my mistakes are significant errors, such as the wrong word spelled correctly or stating something in the negative when I intended the positive. Other errors are not so weighty, but merely embarrassing, such as incorrect word usage, a missing word, or an extra word.

When someone tells me of an error, I quickly correct the offense. Those who read my posts via email miss the corrections, but those who use a reader or bookmark my blog have a good chance of seeing the revised version.

For a while, every post seemed to contain errors. Then I tried reading my work aloud before I published my post. This greatly reduced my mistakes but not all of them. More recently, I’ve been using text-to-speech software (TextAloud), where Crystal and Mike take turns reading my work to me. Hearing my words through someone else’s voice helps me catch most of the errors I make.

I hope it worked this time.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Six Tips for Proofing Your Work

Proofing your own work is hard for most people. After all, you know what you intended to say, so that is what you tend to see when you proofread your writing. Proofing is a huge challenge for me, as you have likely seen in past posts.

I am much more likely to catch errors when I let my work sit for a day or two. With the distance of time, I am less likely to see what I intended to say and actually see what I really wrote. But this is not a guaranteed solution either. Plus, waiting is a luxury not afforded when blogging.

Another proofing technique is to read your work aloud. Yes, it is a bit strange at first, but reading it aloud does help you catch errors. A side benefit is this also aids in catching awkward sentence structure and poorly crafted wording.

A third method is to read it backwards. Yeah, I don’t get it either, but some people swear by this technique.

Also, I tend to proof better from a printout versus working directly on my computer. (Interestingly, when proofing on my computer, it makes a difference if I adjust the font type or size. I guess the change of perspective helps.)

But the best way is to have someone else proofread my work!

Regardless of how skilled or lacking you are at proofreading, be sure to spell check your final version. I am shocked at how often I receive submissions with errors that spell check would have caught. That is inexcusable.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.