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.
Take my advice. If you change ANYTHING in your submission, read the WHOLE THING over again before mailing it out.
Just do it. On more timer.