We all appreciate someone who catches us when we are about to fall. The same is true when a writer receives a word of constructive criticism from a trusted beta-reader, editor, or proofreader.
We fool ourselves as writers when we think we are able to see all the gaps in our writing. There is a moment for every writer when we simply cannot read through our work-in-progress one more time. Periodically throughout the process, we need a set of fresh eyes. We must admit these are not our own.
No matter what role we are playing the process–as writer, reader, or editor–we have a blind spot. Mine is the bottom of the page. I learned this when I was an editor of a small company that published career development materials. If a writer’s error occurred at or near the bottom of the page, I was more likely to miss it. That’s why I had an editorial assistant, a copy editor, and a proofreader. Each career description, which averaged two pages, received at least five reads before being finalized. Knowing this, I make sure I have more than one beta-reader for my own manuscripts. Because I self-publish, the danger is relying too much on myself for editing and formatting. If I am doing the majority of this process, I ask for another read from someone who can check against my blind spots. For my current project, I’ve hired an editorial and formatting team. Trust me, no one wants to merge into publication-traffic without someone sitting shotgun.
Because if we do, we get hit with the stray bullet of a documentation or grammatical misstep. I will never forget how to spell pimiento after my friend, who is a doctor and fellow-bibliophile, caught my misspelling after the professional proofreading of my first collection. (Even now, I double-checked because spell checks are becoming more and more unreliable with the introduction of auto-correct.)
If we head into our publishing ventures with a cavalier attitude, we are setting ourselves up for rejection. Our works might be the most pithy, eloquent expositions the English language has experienced since Shakespeare. But, a typo can be the beginning of the end of rave reviews.
We also need the encouragement gained from the reading of others. Writing is hard work. Sometimes we don’t stumble in our writing so much as we are afraid to take the first step in doing it. We need the support of family, friends, and professionals to tell us the truth about our writing before we send it out to face society’s scrutiny.
We do ourselves a favor by asking others to back us up as we cross the writing path and enter into the publishing portal.