I know, I know, the endless, sometimes hopeless-seeming quest of the writer, proofreader, or doting loved one who genuinely seeks to help realize a published book without typos. Do they exist? I think that I have seen them, but I’m not sure. Perhaps they are like the Loch Ness Monster. Then again, I have seen so many books published by big publishers with typos (just ask my frowning, blushing bookshelf). I found “raido” instead of “radio” in A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY by John Irving and I kept closing my eyes wishing it was some strange dream. Ouch, I wonder if he knows about that typo? I sure hope not. Maybe ignorance is bliss after all.
Well, book without typos or not, here are five tips to radically reduce them.
1: Turbo Your Spell Check
Oh, you did not know that spell check has a turbo feature? Ok, well, maybe not in the software, but next time try this. Once you let spell check run its course, throw it into turbo by copying the whole book, then opening a new doc file and pasting into that. You will find all these new typos and errors! Why? I think that a file gets set into its own parameters, and then saves them. Just think of it as employing another reader that is waiting inside your computer.
2: The Rocky Technique
Ok, just get your laughs out of the way now. Finished? All right. Remember in Rocky II how Adrian helps Rocky learn how to read? Well, you will learn how to catch typos, and then some, if you read your document out loud. You won’t believe it until you try it. Those teachers and professors knew what they were talking about, believe me.
3: New Eyes
Your eyes are too used to the project you are working on (and probably tired). So you have to get “new eyes.” How do you do this? One way is to take a rest from the document. This could be days to weeks. It is up to you. This technique also does wonders for editing as well. Believe me. Another way is to go to your handy-dandy copy store and print a spiraled version, nothing expensive, just black and white, spiral bound, and read that. Any way you can find to see your document from a different perspective, will yield new typos.
4: Other Eyes
If you do not believe that “no person is an island” (yes ladies, updated for this century), then you have not tried to edit your own work yet. I, like an idiot, actually tried to edit my own work in my early self-publishing days. Believe it or not. Embarrassing, but I did try it. I thought that I had some immunity—that if I did all the right things I could proofread my own work. Get over it. You will be happier for it. Trust me. Find yourself at least one other proofreader, but the more the merrier. If you are on a tight budget, heck, even having friends look at your manuscript with “other eyes” makes a difference. Most of my typos in my self-published works were found by readers.
5: Eagle Eyes
There are different eyes we possess when we “treasure hunt” instead of reading our work. Look at your work with totally logical eyes. Give yourself a reward for every error you find. You are not trying to read your work, you are trying to find errors, or “treasures.” You will cleanup your manuscript more, but you will never see your work like another reader (thus, see tip #4!).
I hope you find at least one of these tips helpful. So what are you waiting for? Get on out there and start trying to spot the Loch Ness Monster. Your manuscript, a.k.a. Lake Loch Ness, waits for you!
Yours in literature,