What Not To Do Wednesday on Proofreading

ImageI used Grammarly to grammar check this post because sometimes, even a grammar geek like me (or is it I?) could use a proofreading hand.

So, grasshopper, we meet again.

I really hoped we would not meet again. Hoped that I had, finally, exhausted all the What Not To Do’s which one writer could actually manage to do. But alas, such was not the case.

It began with an email, an email that was, in fact, a query to an agent. So you can see that right from the get-go, this was a terribly important email. Because when one is querying, what one is really doing is trying to convince an agent to say, “Yes! Yes! A thousand times, yes! You are the one for me! Send me your manuscript immediately!”

One might even settle for, “Well, possibly you are the one for me. Send me a bit more of your manuscript and we shall see.”

But I think it goes without saying that one wants to send his or her absolute best query. Something bright and shiny and irresistible. At the very least, one wants to send a mistake-proof query. And that’s not difficult, grasshopper, is it? Not when one proofreads an email ten times before sending it.

Except that when one proofreads one’s work, over and over and over again, one might get so used to seeing the same mistake that one doesn’t actually “see” it at all. One might just hit “send” and whoosh! Out rockets the email with an egregious mistake.

Perhaps it’s a glaring grammatical error. Maybe it’s a misspelled word, or a misplaced modifier. Possibly (and I’m not admitting to anything here), it’s the name of two of the characters in your book but you have changed their names several times so that when you send the query the names might be A and B, but in the synopsis following the query, they are C and D.

Sometimes, grasshopper, you need another pair of eyes to proofread and find those egregious mistakes, especially when one is querying.

In writing a query, as in life, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Better make it a good one.

P.S. On this particular post, I scored a 91 out of 100 when I grammar checked on Grammarly. I also checked the afore-mentioned query/synopsis email, just to see if, say, a name snafu would be flagged (They were names with unusual spellings.). It was—along with a comma that didn’t belong in the OPENING sentence.

So, grasshopper, I suppose I can either write a blog post with my query and synopsis and hope that an agent reads it—or use Grammarly to proofread before I hit “send.”

7 thoughts on “What Not To Do Wednesday on Proofreading

  1. Cathy–I’ve done that a couple of times–sent a submission, only to find later a mistake of some sort. The only way I catch them is by reading them aloud to myself.

    Yeah, that simple act of pushing a button and sending something across the country–it makes it simple to send it with an error…

    • Oh, I read stuff aloud ALL THE TIME. Usually, it works. But this time…sheesh. And yes, something about the whole *zipping* of it makes sending mistakes way too easy. At least, that sounds like as good a reason as any other…:-)

  2. When you run out of “What Not To Do’s…” you can give me a call. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of fodder for you. Until then, I have to admit I learn more from posts like this than stuff I hear at conferences. Plus, it’s kind of fun to laugh out loud when I read about your mistakes – and I mean that in a GOOD way. 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing. My biggest oops was sending an esay, My Rearview in My Full Length Mirror to what I thought was Sasee and myself. When the instant reply popped up a few seconds later, I realized I had sent it to The Smithsonian. Talk about a hot flash!

  4. Pingback: Just Another Frantic Friday | Tanya Valentine

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