Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Getting Out of the Slush Pile - Part 2

I apologize for a rather extended absence. I haven't felt well for the past month of flu season and my attention – what there was of it – went to my novel. All over a very nasty flu bug and attendant bout of bronchitis now though.

I'm back with more discussion of Mike Resnick's article on Jim Baen's Universe on how one may (or may not) get out of the slush pile. Here is a link to the entire article which I strongly recommend reading.

Mr. Resnick says:

Second, check your spelling and punctuation. Again, that seems awfully basic, and in truth no good story ever failed to sell because of a couple of typos . . . but a sloppy manuscript implies that the author had no respect for his work and his craft, and if he didn’t then why should the reader (and in this case, the slush reader)?

Now, I have to say that's harsh. Maybe I react that way because it's someplace that I fall down, but when I do fall down there it's definitely not because I don't care. However, I have no doubt if Mr. Resnick says that's how slush readers react, then he's right. He has the experience to know.

But what does that leave the rest of us who in our fallibility may have trouble with proofreading. And here I'm talking about myself. I have a very hard time finding all the nit-pick errors in my manuscripts and believe me, I look.

I have improved by doing this and like most of us I do my stories using MS Word: I select the whole thing, change the font to something I don't usually use (Arial for me) and to a larger size, print it out, sit myself down and read it out loud with pen in hand.

It was actually an editor over at Baen's Universe (thanks, Paula) who suggested changing the fonts. I was surprised that that does help me look at it with fresh eyes. I can't say it makes my proofreading perfect, but it's better. And I never want to hear from an editor (as I must admit I did once) "If you don't care, why should I?"

If you have problems with proofreading, you might try that method. If you have a better method, please let all of us know because I'm more than open to new methods.


Anthony said...

I think this is one of the areas where a first reader can really help. I am fortunate enough to have several people who not only are willing to read but enjoy the idea of reading my stories before they see the light of day.

They catch a fair amount of typo's that my careful reading and Word's grammar/spell check does not.

Jeanne Tomlin said...

I try not to depend too much on readers to point out errors, but I agree that they're invaluable in picking up what we miss.