You all know that nano is a prefix that indicates something being very, very small, right? 🙂
November is more than halfway over (yes, do panic if it helps), which means that in less than two weeks, there will be some very, very small novels in need of, perhaps, a bit of light proofreading before they’re ready to submit to publishers.
Just kidding. Anyone who thinks that it’s possible not only to write a novel in thirty days but also to make sure it is mostly free of errors… I’d laugh if it wouldn’t wake the cat.
A little while ago, I caught myself thinking, Must not proofread the free e-book. MUST NOT. If I didn’t pay for it (a science fiction novel that I am deliberately not naming), and the author isn’t paying me to proofread/edit, is it really any of my business that the opening paragraphs are lumpy and awkward and full of squishy verb phrases? Is it any of my business that there’s a misused semicolon on page two (argh!), and a bit of character thought/internal dialogue in the middle of that page with completely wrong punctuation?
Of course it’s my business. In my copious spare time (yes, that’s a joke), I’m a reader, just like anyone else who ever picks up a book to, y’know, read it. Although the e-book in question is far from the worst writing I’ve seen from a self-published author — after all, the sentences, while lumpy and clunky, are coherent and chock full of words that are all spelled correctly — it’s also far from the best I’ve seen. A fair amount of time was spent just getting a copy of this book, too, because although I’ve had a Kindle for months, I had not yet used it (or even taken it out of its box), so I had to set all of that up in preparation for “purchasing” said free e-book.
I suppose that it’s a good thing for you, a reader of my blog, that I am so far disappointed with my “purchase,” because without something to read, I became bored and decided to blog just for something to do (after dropping by Twitter to see if anyone was posting anything that caught my attention — and no, I still have not actually read the notice Twitter sent me about one of the authors I follow re-tweeting a post from someone I assume is that author’s son… ’cause if it’s someone else with the same name, the world is a far weirder place than I can cope with right now), which is why I’m here, taking the long route to informing my myriad followers (that’s a joke, too) that the offer of free proofreading/editing in exchange for being one of my myriad followers will not last forever. Also, you have to contact me and let me know that you have a short story or novel chapters that you want me to look at. I’m not a mind reader. Okay, I am a mind reader, but it hurts to leave myself open to random incoming whatever, so I tend to stay shielded pretty intensely, which means you’re gonna have to send me an email or something if you want that free proofreading.
If you are one of those participating in NaNoWriMo, you may have thousands of words written in another week and a half, and you may like most of those words, and you may want some lunatic with an addiction to fixing others’ comma glitches to fix your comma glitches so those words will look even better before you send them off to a publisher right before Christmas…
If I may make a suggestion, don’t send anyone that NaNo manuscript on December 1st. Not even your bestest beta-reader. Do your own proofreading first; nano-novels are, by definition, written at great speed with no time taken for editing. After you do that, then send it to your bestest beta-reader, if you have one (and if he/she is not busy with editing his/her own nano-novel before Christmas). And then, once your bestest beta-reader has said it’ll do, send the first five thousand words of it to me for the free editing you qualified for when you started following my blog. (If you feel that the free editing has improved your manuscript, you may choose to contact me about, y’know, paying to have the rest of it edited, too. That’s not a requirement, but I strongly recommend not submitting your work, or self-publishing it, without having someone make sure it’s free of erroneous punctuation and lumpy sentence structure. A little bit of fact checking is nice, too, especially for science fiction.)
So there it is: Don’t submit or self-publish your NaNoWriMo novel without having someone with a clue about writing take a look at it and help you fix the glitches; your readers will notice. And some of them will blog about it.