5 Ways to Uphold Your Reputation as an Author

On this week’s Firsts in Fiction podcast, we’ll be chatting with author/editor Kathy Ide about Holiday Fiction and the dos and don’ts of writing about popular holidays. You can watch the live stream and join the chat every Tuesday evening at 6:30 PST.

On today’s blog, Kathy shares her ideas for maintaining your credit as a writer:

The buzz word in publishing is platform. And for good reason. Authors need to get the word out about their books. After all, if no one knows about them, no one will buy them.

But there’s another “p word” that, in my opinion, is even more important than platform. It’s proofreading. No matter what you write or how you choose to publish your work, typos, inconsistencies, and mistakes in punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling (what I call “PUGS”) will brand you as an amateur. And that will affect your sales as much as, or more than, your platform.

  1. Proofread your manuscript.

Before you submit a manuscript to a publisher (book, magazine, or other), check it carefully for typos, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and PUGS errors. And make sure you use the appropriate style guide and dictionary for the type of publisher you’re submitting to.

If you plan to self-publish, you’ll need to proofread even more carefully, because you won’t have a publisher’s in-house proofreaders to check your work before readers see it.

  1. Proofread your queries and proposals.

The content of your manuscript might be brilliant, and you could have a fantastic platform. But if an acquisitions editor notices typos, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and PUGS errors in your query or proposal, you won’t be presenting a very polished, professional image. And the editor will likely be thinking about how much time it would take their proofreaders to fix all those mistakes. If another proposal she’s considering has fewer errors, she may very well choose that one instead of yours.

  1. Proofread your galleys.

The term galleys refers to the final version of your manuscript before it goes to print. This is your last chance to catch typos, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and PUGS errors before your readers see what you’ve written. Don’t rely on the publisher’s in-house editors or proofreaders. Even professionals can miss things.

  1. Proofread your back cover copy.

A friend of mine once picked up a book at a bookstore and noticed a typo on the back cover. When she reported it to our critique group, she didn’t say she’d found a mistake on a book published by “XYZ Publishers.” She said she found the mistake on a “Jane Doe” novel. She didn’t connect the error to the publishing house but to the author.

  1. Proofread your promotional material.

As you’re creating promotional flyers, blogs, social media posts, handouts for your talks, even e-mails you plan to send to colleagues in the industry, read through them multiple times to check for typos, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and PUGS errors. Your reputation, and your book sales, will be affected—positively or negatively.

For a lot of avid readers, typos and inconsistencies practically jump off the page. And many are familiar with the rules of punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. If your reader knows the rules and you don’t, that’s not going to make you look very professional.

Readers who find a lot of mistakes in a book will not be as likely to recommend that book to their friends. And who knows? A creative writing teacher might just read your book and want to recommend it to her students . . . but she probably won’t do that if there are a lot of mistakes in it.

Most people have a hard time finding typos and inconsistencies in their own writing, because the eye tends to see what the mind expects to see. And many new writers aren’t familiar with the reference books that publishers use for punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. That’s why I wrote Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. It has tips from multi-published authors on how to catch typos, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies. It also contains industry-standard guidelines on the PUGS issues that most writers struggle with.

Once you’ve got your manuscript, galleys, or promotional material as polished as you think they can be, you may wish to consider hiring a professional proofreader. I’m not talking about your neighbor who’s a high school English teacher, but someone who knows and understands the publishing industry’s requirements. You can find professional freelance proofreaders at writers’ conferences or by filling out the form for Authors Seeking Editors at the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.com).

The investment you make in proofreading could make a tremendous difference in the success of your writing journey.

Kathy Ide is a published author/ghostwriter, editor/mentor, and writers’ conference speaker. In addition to being the author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, she is the editor/compiler for the new Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. Kathy is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.com). To find out more about Kathy, visit www.KathyIde.com.

21 Days of Christmas

21 Days of Christmas

Kathy’s newest book, 21 Days of Christmas, is now available through her website, Amazon, and many bookstores across the country.

Join Kathy Ide, Aaron Gansky, Alton Gansky, and myself for this week’s Firsts in Fiction podcast on Google Hangouts. Have a question for the authors? Visit Aaron’s website for Ask The Author and if he uses your question on air this week, you’ll get a code for a free audio download of his novel, The Bargain. 

The Bargain by Aaron D. Gansky

The Bargain by Aaron D. Gansky

And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!

My Broken Thumb

Let’s be real clear about something: Medical depression is a chemical imbalance, it’s a body malfunction that makes it hard to function. The same way a broken thumb makes it hard to hold a mug without a handle. You learn other ways of managing, and you know that some day the thumb will heal. It may not always work perfectly, but it will work. And if it doesn’t, you learn other ways of managing, of holding your mug.
People who suffer from depression are not weak in faith. It’s not a spiritual deficiency. Sometimes holding on to that mug takes all the strength a person has, but at least they’re holding on.
So stop telling them they’re doing it wrong.
If your thumbs are working, if every atom in your body and brain are working at full capacity, congratulations. Your name is Jesus.
Guess what. My name’s not that.
My thumb may be broken, but the rest of me works just fine.
I see a lot of memes about “share this if you know someone who suffers . . .” but we don’t, do we? We don’t “share” because we don’t want to be associated with “that”. We glance, nod, think of someone else, think “there but for the grace of God go I.”
We think, “If only they did this, tried that, went here, skipped there . . .”
We make our own judgment calls of how their life could be, should be, better.
We hide, we’re embarrassed. We think we’re less than perfect because it comes down to “us” and “them”, where “us” are the “normal” people and “them” are the ones who suffer.
We/Us avoid getting too deep with we/them. We/us are uncomfortable, can’t comprehend how this thumb doesn’t work, we/us don’t really want to know how the thumb broke to begin with, we/us offer solutions. The problem is, we/them can’t always pick up your solution. Sometimes, we/them are so used to the broken thumb, that we/them sometimes don’t remember it will heal. We know how to compensate and make do. We don’t always know how we broke it. We sometimes feel it’s always been broken, or we forget it’s broken. We think this is the way it’s always been. But it isn’t. We just don’t always remember “normal”.
We/us can’t understand why we/them just can’t “get it together”. We think they aren’t strong enough, they must want this, or not want God. We think there’s a disconnect between their body and their soul and they don’t want to mend it.
We/them can’t express ourselves. We/them know we ask too much, and we/them put we/us in ridiculous positions where we/us have to say no which perpetuates our/their sense of alienation.
We/them feel combative, defensive . . . and always alone.
We just want to be invited back to the normal table.
Sometimes the problem isn’t we/them. Sometimes a thumb break is the kindest thing that can happen to us/them because it’s at that point that there’s a conscious realization that something’s not right.
Sometimes the best help we/us can give us/them is to not to splint the thumb, but just ask, “Can I hold that mug for you, for a little while? Can I stay here and watch you try, and learn how you cope so I can see more of how you are? Can I be with you, in case you start to drop your mug and I can help? Can I be normal around you and not make you feel less normal? Can I do that for you? Will you let me?”
And we/them will say, “No. It’s awkward. I’m embarrassed. I’m supposed to be strong. I’m supposed to have my own thumb back right away. It shouldn’t take this long to heal. I should know how to do this by now. It’s my thumb that’s broken, not yours. You shouldn’t be here for this. Go away. Go away. Go away!”
That’s when we/them need we/us to say, “Yeah. I’m gonna be your thumb for a while. I’m gonna be your normal.”
That’s when we/them need we/us to stay. No matter what.
That’s when we/them will drop the mug, push we/us away, say things we/them don’t mean, do things we/them shouldn’t do.
That’s when we/them need we/us to stay. NO MATTER WHAT.
And sometimes say nothing.
But just stay.
And when we have our thumbs back, we/them still don’t want you/us to leave. Because it can be really scary to admit we were broken, but that’s when you were there. So it’s also hard to admit while we want our thumbs back, we’re afraid you’re going to leave. Because some people like us when we’re broken. It’s the only time they hear us. So sometimes, we stay a little more broken, a little longer, so we don’t have to be alone.
And then we know. We don’t like being broken. Not really.
We just want to be back at the normal table with our normal people and forget there was a time we weren’t normal.
You don’t understand. And that’s okay.
Our normal isn’t your normal and it may never be.
We don’t want to be unique. We can’t help it.
We’re different. We’re not always broken.
It’s our faith that things will get better that keeps us holding that mug.
Depression isn’t a spiritual deficiency. It’s just a struggle.
Without faith, I wouldn’t be here to tell you these things.
Without faith, I wouldn’t believe it will get better.
Depression isn’t a spiritual deficiency. And it doesn’t define me.
Like a thumb, it’s just a small part of my body.
Some days it’s more useful than others.
It won’t always be broken.
I won’t always be broken.
You won’t always be broken.
Have faith in that.

Depression is not a spiritual deficiency.

Depression is not a spiritual deficiency.

And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!