In submitting a manuscript to an American publisher last week, I wrote a cover letter mentioning that one of my books (All Good Children) was nominated for two YALSA awards. I read through the letter and manuscript excerpt, made a few revisions, proofread it a final time, and was just about to send it off by email when I made a tiny last-minute change.
The last-minute change is my nemesis. (As in the divine retribution that comes to the cocky.)
I altered “was nominated” to read “is a nominee.” Oh yes, what an improvement.
Did I proofread my letter again? No. Honestly, why should I? It was perfect last time I looked. I made the change and pressed “send.” And off went the submission into a stranger’s mailbox.
But when I glanced at the letter to jot down a record of the submission, I noticed that I hadn’t quite changed “was nominated” to “is a nominee.” I’d actually changed it to “is a nominatee.” Yup. I had written, ever so proudly, that my book was a nominatee for some awards (very presitidigious awards).
Did I really send that to an editor? Yes, I totality did.
Do I expect the editor to even glance at the manuscript following that letter? No, I reality don’t.
Those last-minute changes show up as typos all over my letters, posts, and manuscripts. (Like the blog post in which I christened Deadline? What Deadline and noted that the name might not be a good choice for a writer trying to keep her clients and “maybe attact an agent.” Hmm. I don’t think the blog name is the problem.)
But what’s a silly blog post or one weeny cover letter compared to my brilliant last-minute change of name in a manuscript I sent out this summer? I read the whole thing through until it was perfect. Well, almost perfect. Two characters had similar names, which might confuse an inattentive reader. So I did a last-minute search-and-replace to change “Tony” into “Randy.”
What could be simpler? It was a minor character and he seemed even more authentic as a Randy. It would have been a big improvement if it hadn’t left my heroine, Tina, sitting in a srandy silence and complaining about the monorandy of her waitressing job.
Yeah, I sent that one out, too. I’m serial.
It’s not that I don’t proofread. I proofread MANY times. I just can’t leave well enough alone. I always fall for that last-minute altercation.
Take my advice. If you change ANYTHING in your submission, read the WHOLE THING over again before mailing it out.