One of my clients sent me an email chock-full of apologies for making me suffer through all those typos! “I’m so embarrassed!”
“Ha! That’s nothin’!” says I.
Seriously–do you know what I did last month? No, of course not. I didn’t tell anyone because I was so embarrassed. So, here it is, confession time: I sent to my agent sample chapters of The Simulacrum that were not just riddled with typos, but with one character who’d been given two different names within three paragraphs of each other. Aack! How could I have missed that?
That’s okay. He liked it anyway.
Same for my client. General mistakes like the ones presented to me aren’t a big deal. For my clients, catching things like this is why they pay me.
But even in my capacity as agent Terry Burns’s editorial assistant or as content editor with Port Yonder Press, little mistakes aren’t fatal. Nobody’s gonna send your work back with a throbbing neon “REJECTED” stamped across the front. Of course you’re supposed to clean up your manuscript to the best of your ability before sending it out, but inevitably, you’re going to miss something. It’s a malady most writers suffer from–seeing what’s supposed to be there instead of what’s actually there. That’s a “little oops.” No big deal.
The kinds of mistakes that’ll get you a fat rejection stamp are more major than typos and fumbled character names. Not doing your research on the agent/publisher you’re submitting to is a big oops. Send a foul-languaged steampunk to Terry Burns at Hartline Literary, and he’s going to reject it. He has a zero-tolerance policy pertaining to vulgarities, and he doesn’t work in the fantasy market. Send a pulpit-pounding inspirational to publisher Chila Woychik at Port Yonder Press, and she’s going to reject it. She likes clean cross-over novels, not sermons disguised as stories. Send a manuscript that’s evident you can’t write or craft a story to either of them–or anyone else on that level–and they’ll both reject it.
There are other reasons for rejection which have nothing to do with your manuscript. Agents and publishers reach their limits and can’t accept another client at that time, or they’re flooded with novels of your genre and don’t have room for another, or the genre you’ve chosen is a hard sell. These reasons and others like them are nobody’s fault. They don’t count as “oops-worthy.”
But when you’re submitting to a freelance editor, nothing is oops-worthy. It’s our job to help you polish your manuscript before you send it out to agents and publishers. Typos, cockeyed sentences, out-of-place paragraphs, and fumbled names are our specialty.